Three years ago today, Jon Stewart hosted The Daily Show for the final time.
I wasn’t a huge fan of THE DAILY SHOW with its original host, Craig Kilborn. The first incarnation of the show, which lasted about 2 and a half years, featured the former ESPN SPORTCENTER anchor riffing on popular culture. The result was, to me, really just another half hour of vapid television with no intrinsic value. It didn’t help that I didn’t find Kilborn likable in any way.
But Jon Stewart had been a favorite comedian of mine for a while. He was relatable, he was goofy and every set of his I watched on cable or any time he guest-hosted a late-night talk show were things I always enjoyed. I’d check out what he was doing, I thought when he was announced as the new host of the Comedy Central show, but I never imagined how much of a staple the show would become, both for me and my friends.
Stewart took over the show in January of 1999, in the waning days of the Bill Clinton presidency. When the country began the process to choose Clinton’s successor is when THE DAILY SHOW really started to find its voice. With the program’s new focus on political news and satire, the show was a great gateway into the day-to-day insanity of the political wold. Stewart’s mix of satirical reporting on the days of events and outrage at what was happening both in the country and around the world opened the eyes of many who had just started paying attention because of a 30-minute late-night comedy program.
Impressively, many of Stewart’s correspondents on the show went on to greater success after leaving. Stephen Colbert parlayed his segments into his own Comedy Central show, which he hosted until being named the successor for David Letterman on CBS’s THE LATE SHOW. Steve Carell did a number of segments on the show from 1999to 2005, when he left to star in THE OFFICE. John Oliver now hosts LAST WEEK TONIGHT on HBO and Samantha Bee has her own show, FULL FRONTAL, on TBS. Other correspondents included Ed Helms, Wyatt Cynac, Rob Riggle, Larry Widmore, Olivia Munn and Mo Rocca. It’s a ridiculously star-powered list.
It’s been three years now since Stewart hosted his final episode of THE DAILY SHOW, and I haven’t been able to bring myself to start to regularly watch his successor, Trevor Noah, though what I’ve seen of his iteration of the show is good. But it’s just not the same. Jon Stewart will always be my late night news comedy host.
What’s your favorite moment from THE DAILY SHOW? Talk about it in the comments.