After sixteen and a half years, Jon Stewart has stepped away from The Daily Show to grab a drink. If that sentence seems strange to you, perhaps watching his final episode will clear it up. What a ride it’s been. Watching most of the old correspondents fill the studio was a terrific trip down memory lane even if it did spark a little controversy over those who didn’t appear. Beth Littleford and Frank DeCaro were the only surprising absentees in my opinion. Stephen Colbert brought the correspondent segment to a close with his usual flair. After finishing the scripted schtick, however, his improvised comments were simple, but striking and this quote sums it up:
You are infuriatingly good at your job.
On his final episode, you might expect to see Stewart lose his composure, but he held it together (at least on camera). That is one of the qualities about Stewart I enjoyed throughout his tenure. Why? There were many times when he would launch into hysterics for comedic effect. Just as often, though, I watched him get frustrated or infuriated with the atrocities perpetrated on the United States or the world including: events in the Middle East (especially those that led to his film Rosewater), the hypocrisy and often ineptitude of the US government’s various branches, and, of course, all things that came down from on high at Bullshit Mountain (FOX News).
Sure, his detractors will often parrot that he did more harm than good in twisting the news “facts” and misleading his viewers. They still don’t understand that he never claimed to be a newsman, he’s always maintained that he’s a comedian. Sure, he might be more well-informed or articulate than your average comedian, but that’s all he’s claimed to be.
There were many afternoons (my usual routine was to watch The Colbert Report and The Daily Show as I ate lunch at my desk) where I wondered how, in the face of all the madness, he could face doing another segment let alone another show. I’ve always believed that, if I was ever able to speak with him, I would have to ask, “Has there been a story or segment that simply crushed your spirit or weakened your faith in humanity so much that you questioned your ability to do another show?” When he said, “I want to thank my wife, Tracy, and my kids, Nate & Maggie… I’m not going to look over there… for teaching me what joy looks like”, I knew how he was able to continue on until he could go out like he wanted.
So what’s next for Jon Stewart? He’s opening and animal sanctuary on a New Jersey farm and isn’t ruling out a return to stand-up. I, for one, wouldn’t be surprised to hear if he decides to throw his hat into the political ring. Jon Stewart 2020?