I’ve been in denial about this day since rumors surfaced that Jon Stewart may leave “The Daily Show” at the end of his current contract. I just couldn’t believe that he – someone who has held the same job for 17 consecutive years – would actually consider moving on to something else. I couldn’t consider that someone who has been on my television every day for the past few years might not be there anymore.
But that day is almost here. Comedy Central officially announced today that Stewart will leave “The Daily Show” at the end of the year. When he does, we’ll have to say goodbye to someone who has been the face of comedic satire in the ’00s. Who did we turn to after 9/11 to help us understand the tragedy? Who did we turn to when we wanted to hear about the hypocrisy of fundamental issues? Who else would tell us about the problems with a certain North Dakotan winter driving campaign?
Just watching those videos – it reminds me how critical his voice is to today’s discourse surrounding current events. Whenever something happened, whether it was Brian Williams inflating the truth, a president getting elected or deep-dish pizza needing to be taken down, I turned to Stewart for commentary that would both make me laugh and inform me. His insight, while sometimes crude, brought intelligence to discussions about cable news. Just watch his “Chaos on Bullshit Mountain” segment, which embodied everything about the hole that will be created by his retirement from the show.
Stewart has also launched the careers of so many of comedy’s most powerful voices. He helped propel the careers of Steve Carell, John Hodgman, Larry Wilmore, Ed Helms, Rob Corddry and Rob Riggle. Each of these comedians have achieved great successes, partially due to their exposure and work on “The Daily Show.” Most importantly, Stephen Colbert and John Oliver received their grassroots training first under Stewart, before moving on to launch their individual shows. Collectively, the three have worked to provide a humorous lens on discussions about the United States – Colbert with his satirical right-wing character and Oliver with his long segments on lesser-known, but serious issues.
Nevertheless, though his presence will be greatly missed, “The Daily Show” will go on. There are so many potential candidates, both in-house and outside of Comedy Central, that would also do a fantastic job in the role (though never in the same way as Stewart). Stewart’s long-lived presence has rooted him as one of the most distinguished and respected figures in the world of television.