I remember watching Jon Stewart as the final guest of The Daily Show with Craig Kilborn, a show I’d only recently become aware of. Craig made his share of short jokes, but it seemed like a heartfelt handoff. Jon had a charm to him, and I wondered how the series would do under new leadership, with a new cast of correspondents.
I remember Indecision 2000, when the Daily Show with Jon Stewart really took off. The live election coverage, the confused frustration that they didn’t have a result to announce, and best of all, the next day’s episode, based around the idea that everyone had been covering the election for 24 hours straight without a break, and were nearing (or past) the breakout point.
I don’t recall what the segment was supposed to have started as (or what they claimed), but I remember Beth Littleford, one of the few remaining Kilborn correspondents, getting Jon and us hooked on Iron Chef with her coverage of Morimoto’s thrilling victory.
In 2001, I recall Topher Grace blowing off plugging Traffic to tell Jon all about this movie he watched last night, the Wild Wild West.
When Even Stev/phen, the Carrell/Colbert point counterpoint segment, did the best coverage of Elian Gonzalez. A role-play session into Steve Carrell’s issues with his own father leads to a powerful breakthrough, causing Steve to reverse his position and say Elian should be with his father, only for Colbert to turn on him, embody the angry father, and break his spirit completely. Even Stev/phen was always the best.
I remember being sad that Colbert wouldn’t be appearing on the Daily Show anymore, because he’d be busy on the Colbert Report, but loving his new show all the same.
Or the time when Jon Stewart got Crossfire cancelled by pointing out how it was toxic. Demanding to know why a CNN anchor wasn’t holding himself to a higher standard of journalism than a guy whose lead in was puppets making prank phone calls, only to be told “Well, you’re not very funny.” And replying, from his own show, “On Monday I’ll be funny again, and you’ll still be an asshole.
For years, when I worked down the road from home, I’d spend my lunch hours watching the Daily Show and as much Colbert as I could before I had to go back to work. I thrived on Jon Stewart’s take on the week’s events.
I remember the writers’ strike, when Jon (like many talk show hosts) reluctantly came back to work sans-writing staff so that the crew could still earn a living. Jon Oliver became his main correspondent, possibly (as he jokingly, but maybe seriously claimed) because if he walked the picket line with the rest of the writers, he could be deported. That may have been when Jon Oliver began to eclipse such past favourite correspondents as Mo Rocca, Vance deGeneres, Steve Carrell, Ed Helms, and others.
And I will always remember having the privilege of watching a live taping back in September of 2006: Jon talking about the time his older brother had to fire him from a department store before the show, asking Pat Buchanan how he can possibly believe latino immigration is a plot for Mexicans to take back New Mexico, or talking about the Shofar horn with Stephen Colbert. (“It’s made from the horn of a yak, did you know that?” “Tastes like it, Jon. Must be Jewish illegal to clean all of the yak out of that thing.”)
I haven’t watched the Daily Show on a regular basis in a while. But I always liked knowing that I could. That’s over now.
So long, Jon. Thanks for everything.