( +1 hidden )
August 6, 2015 at 7:46 am #357094
Series finale is tonight @
11 PM ET on Comedy Central; marathon all day prior to finale; penultimate
episode with Louis C.K. re-airs before finale.
How Jon Stewart jolted late night
Donna Freydkin, USA TODAY 10:34 a.m. EDT August 6, 2015
No one knows what Jon Stewart’s next move will be.
But when he crumples up his last script, tosses off his
final riposte and leaves the Daily Show desk he’s sat behind since
January 1999, it won’t be to join the ranks of the politicians he eviscerated.
“I understand that we’re armchair quarterbacks. When
are you going to be the head coach? I’m not as good at that. I’m really better
at talking (expletive),” said Stewart back in November.
His impact, which Stewart is the first to downplay, has
been immense. And since taking over for Craig Kilborn—Stewart’s successor,
Trevor Noah, takes over on Sept. 28—Stewart has taken politicians to task,
explained the arcane workings of Congress, vented against animal abuser Michael
Vick, and shunned humor when moments of bloodshed, such as the church massacre
in South Carolina, stunned the nation.
“He created something that did not exist,” says
late-night rival Jimmy Kimmel. “He made the show from a funny show to an
important show. No one expected that to happen. Instead of a parody of the
news, it became a critique of the news.”
Here’s how Stewart, a former struggling stand-up comedian
with a short-lived 1993 MTV show under his belt, changed the face and tone of
He was a late-night mentor. Stewart
didn’t shy away from sharing the spotlight. Like Saturday Night Live,
which launched the careers of stars including Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, and
Adam Sandler, Stewart’s set was a training camp of sorts for the big leagues.
It gave us Steve Carell, Olivia Munn, and John Oliver, among many others.
“He provided a boot camp for talent,” says former “Senior Black
Correspondent” Larry Wilmore, now hosting Comedy Central’s companion Nightly
Show. “His legacy with other performers is huge.”
He turned pundits and politicos into stars. Other
late-night talk shows covet the A-listers to promote their various projects.
Stewart, on the other hand, welcomed both established Hollywood stars like
director J.J. Abrams (Stewart’s a wide-eyed, unabashed fan of Star Wars)—and journalists and authors like Fareed Zakaria and Doris Kearns
Goodwin. In November 2013, Goodwin was on talking about her book The Bully
Pulpit, much to the wonderment of Stewart. “Taft and Roosevelt were
thick as thieves and the whole relationship falls apart when they fight each
other for the presidency,” he marveled. Says fellow late-night host
Kimmel: “He built up such trust with his audience, they were willing to
tolerate a guest that at face value seemed boring.”
He kept Gen Y interested and engaged.
Stewart somehow made politics palatable and interesting, with bits like Mess
O’Potamia and Indecision 2000. “He changed the way people got their news,
that’s for sure,” Wilmore says. “Before Jon, no one thought of getting
their news from a comedy show. He changed the way we view our politicians, that
we hold them to a higher standard than we held them before.”
He knew when to lay off the humor. In
the wake of the horrific shooting at an African-American church in Charleston,
S.C., Stewart let the news speak for itself. “I didn’t do my job today. I
got nothing for you in terms of jokes and sounds because of what happened in
South Carolina,” he said. For Olivia Munn, who was a correspondent from
2010-11, instances like that stood out because “Jon felt connected to the
stories he told. Sometimes there’s no jokes.”
He gave voice to his own passions. Two
of Stewart’s pet issues were veterans’ rights and animal abuse. he was
instrumental in getting compensation for 9/11 first responders who were
suffering from health problems, after a bill stalled in the Senate; shortly
after Stewart’s December 2010 interview with four of the responders, it passed.
And in the case of Vick, who was busted for running a pit bull fighting ring,
Stewart—himself the owner of a three-legged pit—eviscerated him on air in
2007. “I’d like to cover him in liver and . . . let the dogs see if he’s
as fast and elusive as they say he is. My guess is no,” said Stewart.
He hastened the end of a series.
Stewart went on Crossfire in October 2004, pleaded with hosts Paul
Begala and Tucker Carlson to stop being “partisan hacks” and called
the show “theater.” Crossfire, on CNN, was “hurting
America,” he told the hosts. “Stop. Stop hurting America.”
Months later, the show was canceled. On the other hand, he could engage in
civil discourse with one of his arch-political opponents, Fox News Channel’s
“Papa Bear” Bill O’Reilly, who was a guest on the Daily Show.
“I asked him if he liked Bill. He said, ‘He’s a very nice man.’ That’s
because Jon doesn’t have hate in him,” says Munn.
He spoke out against the Iraq war before it
was trendy. In 2002, Stewart winkingly spotlighted
“our pending showdown” with Iraq. “It’s like they’re the Walmart
of evil,” he called the country after also mocking the elocutionary skills
of president George Bush. “Jon questioned the war before a lot of people
questioned it. After 9/11 it was very risky,” says Wilmore. “He had
the courage of his convictions. He frustratingly turns out to be right most of
the time. His moral courage made him popular with young people.”
He had a friendship of sorts with that dude
in the White House. As Politico reported, President Obama
realized very early just how influential Stewart could be. So he fostered a
close relationship with the comedian, appearing on the show seven times and
inviting Stewart to visit him at the White House. Not even Wilmore knew about
those sessions. “That came as news (to me). Bob Hope was friends with a
lot of different presidents, so it’s happened with comedians before. (But) Jon
is a (also) critic of them.”August 6, 2015 at 8:20 am #357096
I don’t usually watch “The Daily Show,” but I’ll be checking this out. I’ve been reading a lot lately about Stewart and how he changed the game, a lot of retrospective articles as his tenure comes to a close. Surely that doesn’t hurt in the midst of Emmy voting, right? Hmm…August 6, 2015 at 9:03 pm #357097
Some little asides from watching the show, which I loved:
– I’m not surprised at all to see just about every correspondent coming back one by one, but it still left me gleeful to see them show up one by one.
– If I wasn’t convinced of it before tonight, I’m pretty sure that this episode solidified Stephen Colbert as the most delightful human being on the Planet Earth.
– The attack on Jon by his former targets was fun enough. John McCain can really sell the word “jackass”.
– As a fan of The Flop House podcast, seeing Dan McCoy and Elliott Kalan spend their time on the show arguing about Jabba the Hutt was all too perfect.
– Ah, geez. It’s really hitting me how this is all over.
– A great, final moment of zen. Springsteen closed things out in the best of ways.
As a constructed episode of television, The Colbert Report’s final outing might just rank higher for me. But I got teary-eyed at several times during this, and it hit all the right emotional notes. Just a lovely tribute to a person who injected the kind of sanity that was desperately needed in American journalism over the last 15 or so years. Adios, Jon.August 6, 2015 at 9:21 pm #357098
So many feels about this last episode! All the past and current
correspondents were great to see again. Loved that walk-through film
segment with the crew members. Jon Stewart was pitch perfect throughout,
and what can be said about Stephen Colbert at this point? Those two
really were (are) the Sam and Frodo of late night television. Messy
episode in stretches (especially the beginning segment), and I couldn’t
help but make the comparison with the virtual clinical-to-a-fault polish
of Letterman’s finale. The sentiment behind this episode was so clear
and genuine to help mask all of that. Getting THE BOSS to close things
out was epic, and everyone dancing it out to “Born to Run” was utterly
glorious! There’s going to be a deep void for Trevor Noah to fill in
what’s sure to be a gripping election season next year. Sad to see
Stewart go, but it’s not completely a goodbye as he said in his closing
remarks, but simply taking a pause in the conversation. The Emmys could
fall hard for this episode next year, unless they’ve moved on from their
collective former fixation. What a legacy this show has had on the
television landscape! Bittersweet night.August 7, 2015 at 7:15 am #357099
Loved this goodbye but when Colbert walked out I literally lost it. So glad he came back.August 7, 2015 at 7:50 am #357100
Hollywood Reporter’s review:
August 06, 2015 10:41 pm PT by Tim Goodman
Tim Goodman: Jon Stewart Finds a Lovely,
Perfect, Emotional Way to Go Out
Jon Stewart’s very last ‘Daily Show’ was a master class
in how a TV icon should say goodbye—with grace and appreciation and the
understanding that emotion has to be expressed, whether you want it to be or
So much about television is about precision—everything
goes just right, everybody hits their mark, the ending clicks to a close with
perfection. But when you say goodbye, when you send off an icon, you need to
leave a little room for emotion, for vulnerability, for something heartfelt and
real to sneak in and then back out again through the lens and into the living
Thursday night’s final goodbye to Jon Stewart as
he left The Daily Show on Comedy Central was as near to perfect as
something like this can get. Stewart himself tried so incredibly hard to leave
it as professionally and normally as ever, but he couldn’t hold back the
emotion, he couldn’t sit behind the desk at a distance and say goodbye cleanly.
There had to be tears, it had to run long, spontaneity had to have its way. And
in what was maybe the best decision a channel could make, Comedy Central
seemingly said, “Let it roll. Keep the lights on until it’s over, no
And so fans of Stewart got all they could have hoped for
in one of the best endings to a TV personality’s long, wonderful run in ages.
It was funny and tight and heartfelt and unexpected. Most of all, the end was
there to be shaped as Stewart wanted, with the cameras rolling until he said
everything he wanted or needed to, until Bruce Springsteen (another
Jersey boy), played him off with Stewart’s requested “Land of Hopes and
Dreams” and Springsteen’s “Born to Run” tagged on at the end, as
staffers and correspondents poured out from behind the scenes and Stewart
hugged his way to the microphone to say goodbye one last time with a slight
crack in his voice.
As exits go, this is really how you want to do it.
Sixteen and a half years later, with roughly 2,600
episodes under his belt, Stewart joked that he wanted to have the final show be
representative of what came before, that it would cover the just-completed
Republican presidential debate. And in a bit where the three young,
future-leaning correspondents (Jordan Klepper, Hasan Minhaj, and Jessica
Williams) of The Daily Show were left to cover 10 different politicians,
the skit took form—as a group of former Daily Show correspondents came
back to fill out the coverage to all 10 and then, naturally, way, way beyond. Aasif
Mandvi, Al Madrigal, Lewis Black, Kristen Schaal, Samantha Bee, Steve Carell,
Vance DeGeneres, Mo Rocca, Dave Attell, Dan Bakkedahl, Matt Walsh, Larry
Wilmore, Jason Jones, Josh Gad, Rob and Nate Corddry, Trevor Noah, Craig
Kilborn, Olivia Munn, Rob Riggle Ed Helms, Wyatt Cenac, and then the final
two, John Oliver and Stephen Colbert, all were there to pay
tribute to the man who gave them work, helped launch their careers and spread
laughter through all kinds of mediums.
It was emotional, as expected—with Stewart staving off
the tears on a number of occasions. He couldn’t keep it together as Colbert
told him how much he meant to everyone. Stewart, sensing that things were going
off script, off his carefully orchestrated goodbye, welled up amid laughs and
said, “Please don’t do this,” with a smile, but Colbert pressed on to
praise him. “We’re better people for having known you,” he said at
the end, as Stewart hung his head and fought and failed to keep the tears at
bay. As they broke for a commercial, scores of former correspondents rushed on
to the stage and hugged Stewart as they all jumped up and down.
Needless to say, it was very, very hard to keep a dry eye
at that point.
So much has been written about how Stewart changed late
night but more importantly changed the way we looked at and dissected media,
politics, celebrity, etc. He—and The Daily Show— were the ultimate
bullshit detectors, so it was fitting that in his closing remarks Stewart
talked about the need for the republic, for people everywhere, to not just
blindly accept what they’re told, what they’re fed. “Bullshit is
everywhere,” he said. “The best defense against bullshit is
vigilance. If you smell something, say something.”
And that, in a nutshell, is what Stewart and The Daily
Show did for more than 16 years. They called bullshit on everything from
the president to your local city council. Nobody did it quite like that before
him, which is why he goes out as a true original. Noah may take over The
Daily Show and stamp it with his personality, but the template was set with
Stewart and it’ll be damned hard to improve upon.
Most final shows are messy affairs that often seem
truncated or gift-wrapped a little too neatly. But not this one. Stewart let a
lot of politicians—from both sides of the aisle—get their last laughs and jabs
in via a taped bit that worked well. From Hillary Clinton to Bill
O’Reilly and John McCain, the digs were dealt.
And in a very Jon Stewart touch—he’s known for doling out
appreciation to those who made the show what it was through the years—a taped
bit guided the camera through the halls as Stewart narrated a story of how the
show was made, naming his entire staff and how they contributed, with bits of
humor and randomness tossed in (and even a cameo from Martin Scorsese).
It was a clever, artful segment that worked so much
better than saying “I can’t thank everybody enough” or “thanks
to my staff”—it felt personal, creative and funny.
And then it all got wonderfully rag-tag at the end, with
deep feeling creeping into his voice, with precision set aside in favor of
authenticity. Stewart talked about the journey and what the job meant: “It
still feels like a dream a little bit.”
He thanked his wife and kids (“for teaching me what
joy looks like”) and noted that he couldn’t look over toward them—his
desire to keep it all professional and not lose it to the emotions that were
rushing up inside was valiant, but ultimately couldn’t be upheld. Crying was
inevitable. Because it was clear by this final episode/sly tribute that the
people who worked with Stewart really love him and they knew what the moment
meant—to the culture and to all of them personally. He tried to construct a
narrative about life and the show going on, that there was no real need to be
definitive about the end. “Rather than say goodbye and goodnight, I’m
going to get a drink,” he said, as if he could just walk out the back door
and into the night and we’d all just go quietly on to something else.
It was way, way too emotional at that point. You can be
as jaded as, well, a critic and still be moved by what 16 years of nightly work
in the medium means, by how one of the funniest people on the planet shaped
media and political commentary in the guise of just giving everybody a laugh.
You can know that we were all a little blessed to have witnessed it, to have
shared those years and those laughs. So when Stewart closed it out by saying
this was his moment of Zen—Springsteen playing him off—there was
that joyous exhale where all the correspondents and staff danced and took
videos and pictures and celebrated the very last Jon Stewart-hosted Daily
It was a finely realized moment of television, where all
the polish came off and the emotions came out and it was a really wonderful,
lovely, moving, shared national experience. If you’re going to go out, do it
like this.August 7, 2015 at 8:09 am #357101
Jon Stewart’s Final “The Daily Show” Brims
With Warmth, Emotion
August 6, 2015 | 09:17 PM PT
TV Columnist @blowryontv
Genuine warmth is an extraordinarily rare commodity on
television, which is why Jon Stewart’s final “The Daily Show” was something to
be treasured, savored and maybe even played back a few times. As with most
media-hyped events, Stewart’s exit came with such inflated expectations that
it’s the sort of thing the host himself would have delighted in skewering. Yet
the parade of former correspondents who lined up to bid him farewell not only
celebrated what he called “the talent that has passed through these doors” but
the guy who gave them that opportunity as he rides into the sunset.
Stewart opened by pretending to cover the Republican
debate (which actually took place after his taping), which turned into an
extended series of cameos by practically everyone who has worked for the show
on camera. The producers even squeezed in testimonials from other luminaries,
from Craig Kilborn—from whom Stewart inherited the franchise—to Hillary Clinton,
John McCain, and Bill O’Reilly.
Still, the real emotional gut punch fell, appropriately,
to Stephen Colbert, who forced Stewart—who has resisted attempts to lionize him
building up to the finish—to listen to a testimonial on behalf of all those who
had worked for him. “You were infuriatingly good at your job,” Colbert said,
and if Stewart was acting when he began to choke up, then he has a career in
movies ahead of him that has nothing to do with directing.
Frankly, that would have been enough to make the hour
wonderfully memorable. But the show followed that up with an extremely clever
“Goodfellas” spoof, introducing everyone who had worked on the show in one
extended tracking shot (and throwing in a Martin Scorsese cameo for good
measure). It’s become standard operating procedure for late night hosts to
acknowledge their staffs, but this effort brought more flair to the process
In the night’s ultimate highlight, Stewart then channeled
the late George Carlin, and perhaps a bit of David Steinberg, in offering what
amounted to parting words of advice to his audience, an extended rumination on
the “bullshit” that permeates our politics, and the one word that can inoculate
the public against it: vigilance. In a strange, sweet way, it felt almost like
an older relative addressing a kid, telling him or her what to look out for
when he’s no longer around to run interference.
Each of these segments, and especially that last one,
showcased what Stewart has uniquely brought to “The Daily Show.” In an age of
news coverage where partisanship often demands getting both sides of even the
most absurd argument, he astutely knifed through the clutter, in a way that
frequently spoke to people who had the same thoughts but didn’t hear them
articulated much—or nearly as well—in other venues.
Stewart has always brought a self-effacing quality to the
desk, which is part of his comedic persona. But his goodbye, in which he
described his time hosting the show as a “privilege,” sounded heartfelt and
sincere. The biggest non-surprise, frankly, was that he would turn the final minutes
over to Bruce Springsteen, a natural sendoff for a native son of New Jersey.
Despite all the inevitable analysis regarding Stewart’s
legacy, the sun will still rise Friday. But come Monday—when Stewart would have
had an opportunity to weigh in on that aforementioned Republican presidential
debate—Thursday’s finale merely reinforced the sense that there’s going to be a
void in a lot of people’s lives more significant than just that extra half-hour
four nights a week. And Trevor Noah—who came out to measure Stewart’s desk—certainly
has his work cut out for him.