After watching Jon Stewart’s last appearance as the host of ‘The Daily Show’, I felt the need to share a few thoughts to add to the long list of shared thoughts that plague the Internet already. That seems a little excessive, but Jon Stewart’s show was such an important part of the Kevy Metal household, that it truly is the end of an era to me. And as much as his crew – both on- and offscreen – deserves all the credit they can get, it was Stewart’s charming, witty and sometimes shamelessly nerdy personality that made him a welcome addition to our living room for years. Sometimes it even felt like he was right there with us. An impressive feat that isn’t given to every show host.
My parents and I started watching every episode of ‘The Daily Show’ as soon as we had a TV channel that aired the program. I can’t exactly pinpoint the date we started watching, but judging from the many compilations that were featured in the show in these last few weeks, it must have been about six years ago. Stewart was a breath of fresh air for us. Not only was his delivery in terms of humor fantastic, he also had a surprisingly universal approach when compared to the America-centered worldview of most American anchors. His sincere interest in all things Middle East hardly has any competition worldwide.
What is more important, however, is the function that ‘The Daily Show’ has had as a springboard for young, talented comedians. Despite joining the show prior, Stephen Colbert is commonly seen as a protégé of Stewart, with Colbert even mentioning him as the reason he started moving into political satire. ‘The Daily Show’ was also responsible for getting John Oliver to the United States and therefore granting him the stage that later enabled him to start ‘Last Week Tonight’ about a decade later – a show that might equal, possibly even surpass the quality of ‘The Daily Show’ these days.
For me, it was the show that introduced me to a number of fantastic comedians. Sometimes these were younger talents that got their chance to shine to a sizeable audience through the program (the brilliant Wyatt Cenac, the downright crazy Kristen Schaal) and sometimes, I was introduced to a comedy veteran for whom ‘The Daily Show’ just happened to be the medium that introduced me to their work; most prominently Lewis Black, who remains one of my favorite comedians to this day. I’m not sure how much emphasis there is on comedic acting among cast and crew, but people like Jason Jones and Aasif Mandvi have grown to full-blown comedy actors throughout the history of the show.
Let’s not forget the interviews. Some of the best interviews were the ones that had nothing to do with whatever the guest was promoting – Ricky Gervais’ monologue about raccoons having sex with panda’s springs to mind. Occasionally, a genuinely interesting interview popped up. It was through ‘The Daily Show’ that I was introduced to Ramita Navai’s amazing book ‘City Of Lies’. It actually went so far that my mother begged the show to stop promoting interesting books; it was quite an assault on our bank accounts at some point. Stewart’s political interest made people like Barack Obama show a bit of their true selves and sometimes set to “unmask” people in a different way, like his on-screen frustration opposite journalist Judith Miller about her role in the Iraq war by publishing faulty information.
Now that this icon has quit the show, all we can hope for that his replacement Trevor Noah will get an honest chance to prove himself. To be honest, I wasn’t particularly impressed by his few appearances on the show, but it was his performance on BBC’s ‘Live At The Apollo’ about his experiences as a child of a mixed race parents in South Africa that convinced me that he is able to at least put on a good and credible satire show. And as long as he’s got the current team of correspondents – Hasan Minhaj, the silly genius of Jordan Klepper and the perfect combination of beauty, brains and humor that is Jessica Williams – we can be sure that the legacy of the show will be safe.
Of course things won’t be the same again. The second most important man in our living room – second only after my father – won’t appear quite as often anymore. Jon Voyage!