I know there are a lot of Daily Show with Jon Stewart retrospectives out there that are from more important or insightful people. But as a fan of the show for a long time, I feel like writing a little post about it.
I started watching the Daily Show early on, starting in 1999–it was the months leading up to the 2000 primaries. I was 14 at the time, and I watched my fair share of the news and Comedy Central. My family, who enjoys trivia and humor, often watched Win Ben Stein’s Money at 7:30pm. Right after Ben Stein’s show, re-runs of the Daily Show would aired at 8pm. I believe we left it on the channel as a whim, and we soon fell in love with the show. We liked Jon, but the correspondents at the time were amazing, too–Stephen Colbert, Moe Rocca, Steve Carell, and so on. It was during Indecision 2000, a time where politicians and the media totally ignored the show. In fact, John McCain gained some cool points by talking to the correspondents a few times (2000 John McCain vs. 2008 John McCain = night & day).
As a fan of the show, it has been enjoyable to watch it transform into the amazing show it is now. It seemed to get better and more refined each year. There is no doubt in my mind that Jon ‘s (and the writers’) targeted political satire got me through the worst of the Bush years. Somehow watching and laughing at satire made me feel a little bit better, as if someone else totally understood how I felt. I did not watch the show religiously over the last 16 years–it would wax and wane with different times in my life. Still, whenever something big was going on, I would turn to Jon. It seemed that Jon’s checks of hypocrisy served as a necessary counterweight in our social discourse, and I do think our society is better for it. Eventually the media and politicians who did scoff at the antics of the Daily Show realized it was a force to be taken seriously.
Although I am sad that Jon is leaving (I was a puddle of goo watching his last show), I totally understand his reasons for leaving. Yes, it is a 30-min. show that runs 4 times a week, but churning out satire on daily events for 16 years takes its toll. Jon has done a lot over the years, and other comedians will work hard to carry on the work he started. I look forward to see what Trevor Noah can do with the show, and I look forward to see whatever Jon does next.