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Jon Stewart returns to “The Daily Show” with his zeal and wit

Jon Stewart returns to “The Daily Show” with his zeal and wit


TV - Jon Stewart - Daily ShowTV - Jon Stewart - Daily Show

Jon Stewart attends The Albies hosted by the Clooney Foundation for Justice at the New York Public Library in New York on September 28, 2023. Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, file

On Monday, The Daily Show opened to loud applause and a standing ovation from the studio audience as it welcomed back host Jon Stewart, who left the show in 2015 after 16 years at the helm.

Why am I back, you may be wondering, and it's a reasonable question, he said with a smile on his face. I've committed a lot of crimes and from what I understand talk show hosts get immunity.

Stewart's high energy matched the anticipation surrounding his return to the Comedy Central show, hosted by Trevor Noah until 2022, when he stepped down. The last year and a half has been hosted by a series of guest hosts, including Kal Penn, Charlamagne tha God, Sarah Silverman and Michelle Wolf.

Now that Stewarts is back, he will host the show every Monday night, at least until the presidential election in November. The other evenings will be hosted by a rotation of correspondents.

But a lot has changed since Stewart left office, including national levels of political vitriol and the role of the media in whether candidates succeed or lose. Consider that when Stewart was last hosting, Bill O'Reilly was Fox's kingpin and the possibility of Donald Trump in the Oval Office was a joke.

Stewart dove into his opening monologue with the zeal, wit and timing that made him a pioneer of modern late-night political satire.

While discussing the Super Bowl, he brought up absurd conspiracy theories that the NFL and Taylor Swift are agents of the Democratic Party. The game was actually something of a no-win for conservatives who feared the success of a Joe Biden plot if the Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers, he said. But if the Chiefs lose, who wins? The Communist People's Republic of Gay Pelosistan, Stewart joked.

Appearing earlier Monday on CBS Mornings, the 61-year-old joked that he was well suited to cover this election because he is someone who truly understands two aging men who are past their prime. Stewart appeared in his element Monday night and admitted as much about his return to The Daily Show.

The host's last attempt, the Apple TV+ show The Problem with Jon Stewart, only lasted two seasons. Stewart told the CBS hosts that he really wanted some sort of place to vent his thoughts as we head into this election season. I thought I was going to do it again because they call it Apple TV+, it's a TV enclave, very small. It's like living in Malibu. But they felt they didn't want me to say things that might get me in trouble.

Stewart, who is also executive producer of The Daily Show, spent most of his time Monday night doing what he does best: cutting through controversial political discourse with insight and humor, and focusing on critical issues. His trademark two-sidedness, while remaining firmly progressive, has diminished Bill Maher's recent efforts to make his HBO show the only place where both sides are represented.

President Biden and former President Trump were the focus of Stewart's opening performance. He spoke about them alongside a graphic of the two men being their ages. Nine months until the elections, friends, and we already know our candidates. Drum roll, humor these guys, he said deflatedly. Then the new banner for this year's elections appeared on the screen: Indecision 2024: American DeMOCKracy and Electile Dysfunction. Later he changed it to Indecision 2024: Antiques Roadshow.

Stewart offered a refreshing perspective on how Democrats and Republicans have largely avoided considering the advanced age of their own candidates, while using that same factor as a weapon against the opponent.

The question then becomes: what are we doing here, friends? Stewart joked. We have two candidates who, chronologically, are outside the norm of anyone who has run for president of this country in the history of the country. They are the oldest people to ever run for president, beating by just four years the record they set during their last campaign.

What's crazy is to think that it is they, as voters, who must silence the concerns and criticism. It’s the candidates’ job to allay concerns, not voters’ job to not mention them.

Then Stewart, graying, asked the cameraman to come take a close-up of his face: I didn't want to have to do that on the first day. Look at me. Look at the time that has passed. Treat children to the pleasure of discovering the lunar surface here. I'm 20 years younger than this mother f. And if you think 20 years isn't that long, that's me 20 years ago.

And a photo appeared of Stewart, well, much younger.

Look, the next nine months or so, and maybe more than that depending on the timing of the coup, they're going to suck. You're going to get emails with crazy subject lines like, Hello Jon, it's Chuck Schumer. Donald Trump is right behind you with a knife. You're going to be inundated with robocalls, he said, and push polls, and real polls. All of this is going to make you feel like Tuesday November 5th is the only day that matters, and that day does matter, but man, November 6th is nothing to sneeze at, or November 7th.

If your man loses, bad things could happen, but the country is not finished, he continued. If your man wins, the country is in no way saved. I've learned one thing over the last nine years, and I've been flippant at best and probably dismissive at worst about it. The work of making this world like the one you would prefer to live in is lunchtime work, day in and day out, where thousands of committed, anonymous, intelligent, dedicated people knock behind closed doors and pick up the fallen and go. on the questions until they get a positive result, and even then they have to stay on the job to make sure that result holds. The good news is that I'm not saying you don't have to worry about who wins the election. I say you have to worry about every day before and every day after forever. But on the plus side, I was told that at some point the sun would run out of hydrogen.

The program also included an interview with Zanny Minton Beddoes, editor of The Economist, and dispatches from campaign correspondents. Outside a Michigan restaurant, Dulc Sloan complained that the election was a tired reboot. They already had this job. Now these old white guys have to come back and get it? How come! Go do something new and don't be so desperate. Let someone else run the show, she said, clearly referring to Stewart's return.

Later, Jordan Klepper, who will host the show the rest of the week, appeared behind the desk with Stewart. Have you ever saved democracy? asked Klepper. With your brand of 90s snark and bisiderism, Searing, Jon.

And with that, Stewart was back.

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