An empty desk. That’s all we were left with at the end of last night’s Daily Show. A crying Jon Stewart running backstage and an empty desk. And you thought Colbert leaving was big.
Let’s work backwards through the episode.
There is nothing like some good ol’ fashioned dramatic irony. When the audience knows something that the characters don’t, it’s fun. Think Oedipus but without all of the drama. I’ve been in Jon Stewart’s audience a couple of times and I know that before the show, they let you know that you have been an important part in the show. You are in the scene with Stewart. He is such a pro that he feeds off of your energy. You are essentially another character. So watching an episode of The Daily Show where I know something the audience doesn’t, is truly special.
His announcement speech was, like everything he does, genuine. He had the best job on television for seventeen years. He was, for a time, the most trusted name in news and he would never admit to deserving the title. While he made a couple jokes, for the most part the speech was thanking the staff and general emotionality. At one moment, Stewarts’s tears welled up too high and he had to pause. There was an awkward silence and out of it came a shout of “We love you” from the crowd followed by thunderous applause. Jon’s speech revealed very little we already didn’t know. He is leaving sometime during the next year. He is thankful for his position. And most of all, the audience loves him. We love him.
Getting to watch Jon Stewart interview David Axlerod was an incredible interview as well. The questions Stewart asked were questions most interviewers will be asking of him in the coming months. What were those great achievements like? Are things different now that he knows things are coming to an end? Of course Jon was asking about Obama but the symbolism wasn’t lost. In many way Obama and Stewart are very similar. Both really the first of their kind. Brought, through luck and incredible circumstances rose to an incredible position. Both clearly the punching bags of everyone across the aisle. Both taking it like champs…almost relishing it, now. That is what they do.
The opening segment was classic Stewart. When people say Jon Stewart makes fun of certain people too much, they say it is because of politics. The truth is that he doesn’t hate conservatives. He will even admit to voting for Bush the First. Jon Stewart hates hypocrisy. So when Fox News correspondents and talking heads go on TV and say that Obama should be more like that powerful Muslim king, you know Stewart is going to have a field day firing back at them. He bring up clips. He constructs a really cohesive narrative. He earns that title of the most trusted name in news. Considering Brian Williams was the old one, I almost expect it to default back to Stewart. He deserves it.
Jon Stewart, man. The guy is a New Jersey treasure. He’s a straight talker who speaks truth to power. His remaining episodes are going to be huge. He has months left to leave a lasting impact on the comedy world. He has already made kings out of Helms, Carrell, Colbert, and most recently Oliver. Others like Wilmore, Che, Cenac, Rocca, Corddry, Hodgeman, Black, Riggle, and Schaal are taking over comedy. The Daily Show has turned into what Saturday Night Live was up about until the departure of Will Ferrell. Jon Stewart is responsible for more of The Daily Show’s success than anyone. Now he is leaving us with something we haven’t had since 1999.
An empty desk.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart airs week night at 11pm on Comedy Central.
Matthew Nando Kelly is an incredibly cool and handsome staff writer for Pop-Break who was allowed to write his own bio. Aside from weekly Flash reviews, he writes about film, television, music, and video games. Matthew also has a podcast called Mad Bracket Status where he discusses pop culture related brackets with fellow Pop-Break writer DJ Chapman. He loves U2, cats, and the New Orleans Saints. He can also occasionally be found writing lists on Topless Robot and his twitter handle is @NationofNando