Jon Stewart left a major void behind when he ended his run on The Daily Show last year. Don’t get me wrong--I love Full Frontal with Samantha Bee and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, I think Trevor Noah’s gradually finding his voice, and Larry Wilmore’s The Nightly Show is solid. Yet Stewart was the premiere political satirist and media critic of the last 15-16 years. He’d also become that familiar and reassuring presence on TV--a Walter Cronkite prone to spit-takes and telling Glenn Beck to go fuck himself. He launched dozens of comedy careers fighting Bullshit Mountain, and in the process became (liberal) America’s conscience.
So many have been clamoring for Jon Stewart to return to The Daily Show, especially given how insane this election season has been. Last night on a live edition of Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show, America’s cool uncle stopped in for a visit.
Give it a watch below.
Seeing Stewart do his thing again makes me appreciate just how good he could be when he was on fire. Not every episode of The Daily Show was great--off night, slow news days, the grind of doing it four times a week takes its toll--but on the whole the show was always reliably brainy and heartfelt.
This all makes me wonder what would happen if Jon Stewart had stuck around for this election year, like a general ordering one final charge up Bullshit Mountain, and boldly leading the way. What would he have made of the Hillary Clinton/Bernie Sanders battle? What jokes would there have been about drowsy Ben Carson and Ted-Cruz-y Ted Cruz? Oh, and Jeb--poor, poor Jeb.
And of course there’s Donald Trump. I don’t believe that one comedian could have brought him down. Like the idea of Savior Candidates, I find the idea of Savior Comedians naive. Besides, Stewart would have been branded as one of the media elite who just doesn’t get Trump like Trump’s supporters do--that’s the narrative, and why so many of Trump’s horde seem to delight in proving their critics wrong.
Yet I think Stewart would have made this car crash a bit more bearable. Maybe that’s what political satirists do best in troubled times: they go from the nation’s conscience to the nation’s airbag. Okay, less morbid. Maybe a good satirist who is first and foremost a good person would, after cracking wise, just sit with you and talk things out until something at least resembling joy could be found simply in an act of mutual commiseration.
Stop by again some time, Uncle Jon. I like our talks.[via YouTube]