It’s Something Unpredictable

But in the end is right

I hope you had the time of your life

-Green Day “Good Riddance”

(seriously, I know, it’s cliché, but appropriate…)

Last night marked the last time I would see Denis Leary as a guest on “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.” Amidst the laughter and familiar banter between these two long-time friends, I was suddenly gripped by a very melancholy feeling. This was it. This was ALMOST it. Shit. This is it. I’d been dreading this since February… And here it was. The end of “The Daily Show” as I knew it.

Like millions of other viewers, I had grown accustomed to watching “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” for my daily dose of ‘news made easy to digest.’  And while the show itself is not going away, its’ host of 16 years will be. Like him or not; agree with him or not; Jon Stewart’s departure from the show he brought out of semi-obscurity and turned into ‘must see’ TV, will be the marking of the end of an Era. And while some (FOX News, Rupert Murdoch, RNC) will rejoice at his departure, many of us will certainly feel the void he will leave behind.

When Jon Stewart took over “The Daily Show” in 1999 from Craig Kilborn, he’d already had two talk shows under his belt (I was fortunate enough to have seen a live taping of his MTV show way way way back in the day).  He had been passed up a few times as a potential host for late shows on NBC and CBS. Everyone who had ever seen him do his schtick knew he was funny. I don’t think anyone expected him to turn, essentially, a ½ hour fake news show into a social phenomenon.

Throughout 16 years of rants, political opining, and social commentary intermingled with comedy, Jon Stewart stressed to anyone who questioned him, that he was simply a comedian, and his show was, essentially a “fake” news show. What it really was, was satire in the purist form. What Jon Stewart did with the Daily show was create a space wherein he could look at the days’ news and educate a populous that needed, essentially, “a little sugar to make the medicine go down.”

The fact is, comedian though he may be, he also knows how to deliver the news to a generation of people who simply cannot deal with the bullshit on CNN, MSNBC and FOX. We needed someone who can point at the ridiculousness of the daily news feed and those who ‘reported’ on it all and say “yeah, you’re right, they are TOTALLY Fucked up! No wonder you don’t give a shit anymore.. Here’s a way for you to hear what’s going on without the extraneous bullshit… and yeah, maybe laugh a little..” It was, I believe, largely due to his delivery of the news that an entire generation of people, less likely to become politically active, registered to vote and took part in the political process. Regardless of the outcome of the elections (two for Bush, two for Obama – he didn’t always get his candidate), he got the 20-Somethings involved in a way they hadn’t been before.

And it wasn’t just the 20-Somethings – He filled a niche that was needed in this country. One where those of us, fed up with hearing a whole lot of bullshit could hear our frustrations voiced on television in a way no one anywhere else could express themselves.  He seemed to speak for those for those of us who, while we may lean socially towards the left, really just wanted to scream at both sides of our political landscape for their extreme game of tug of war with our lives.

The writers of that show clearly were under the direction of a person who wanted to make sure that even his most banal jokes were somehow based in well researched facts – Something that supposed “fair and balanced” news channels rarely seem to do. If Jon Stewart named statistics – they were real. If he referenced history – it was real. And on the rare occasion his facts were erroneous, he apologized.

Despite purporting he was just a comedian satirizing the news, and making it palatable for those of us who simply couldn’t watch the train wreck our government, and our ‘real’ news media, had become, Jon Stewart was named the Most Trusted Newscaster in America in a 2009 Time Magazine Poll.

Politicians that have come on the show, including, and maybe especially, the President himself, have admitted that his interviews were the toughest.  They never knew what he was going to ask, or, what tangent he will go on in an effort to make them accountable for their actions. No, he wasn’t a serious Newsman, just a comedian. .. Or maybe he was just a guy who was asking all the questions the rest of us really wanted answered, as opposed to promoting the agenda of whatever the owners of a specific news channel wanted promoted.

The very evidence of his influence on the political and social landscape could be seen numerous times. He is credited with helping Vets gain better access to medical care, when after a searing segment on the inadequacies in the 40 mile rule in the “The Choice Program,” the Department of Veterans Affairs changed the rules making access to medical care easier for our country’s bravest. When a bill to help 9/11 first responders who came down with chronic diseases such as emphysema and lung cancer after breathing in the toxic air at Ground Zero, was blocked by Senate Republicans, an issue all but ignored by main stream media, Stewart decided to bring the issue to light. Three days after Jon Stewart dedicated an entire episode to the issue where he first lampooned the Senators blocking the bill, and then brought on a panel of first responders to discuss the issue, the bill was passed. Jon Stewart has also been credited with the termination of CNN’s “Crossfire,” the down fall of Glenn Beck, and the firing of Rick Sanchez. Not bad for a guy who is ‘just a comedian.’

Jon Stewart is also credited for helping launch the careers of Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Larry Wilmore,  Kristen Schaal,  Olivia Munn, Ed Helms, Samantha Bee and Jason Jones (who are going to be launching their own show on TBS), Aasif Mandvi and of course, Jon’s successor, Trevor Noah.

Oh Trevor Noah.. What big shoes that man will have to fill. Not only is he replacing a man many of us turned to in the hopes of making sense out of the nonsensical, he is replacing a man even many politicians seemed to turn to to plead their cases. It sounds crazy that a comedian from Jersey who started his career, essentially trying to be the David Letterman of MTV, ended up being an essential stop on any campaign trail.

And while I have no doubt Trevor Noah will, much in the way Jon Stewart did, carve out his own path and gain his own following (hopefully, many Stewart fans will stick around as well), it is indeed going to be different. He is coming at this from a different angle. He has a different sense of humor. Even if he agrees with everything Jon Stewart has ever said, his take will be different and will more than likely take some getting used to. I am willing to try. But that doesn’t mean I won’t miss Jon Stewart’s perspective, which seems to so clearly reflect everything so many of us loyal viewers have thought but never saw reflected on any other channel.

I don’t know what the future holds for Jon Stewart, (other than the sanctuary farm he and his wife have purchased), but I hope after some rest and relaxation he recharges and comes back on the scene. It really won’t be the same without him.  Especially with the current election cycle! Seriously, I would’ve loved to have seen his post-Republican Debate commentary. With Trump, Christie, Huckabee and the rest of the clown posse on the panel, it will be a gold mine of humor that practically writes itself. Alas, it is not meant to be as his last day on air coincides with the first debate (coincidence? Maybe – but the only people who will benefit from Jon Stewarts absence will be FOX News and the RNC, sadly).

Either way, I genuinely do wish Jon Stewart all the best and hope he enjoys his (seriously) early retirement.

Advertisements