I realized something was different when I came back from Leo’s on Tuesday and found a cupcake and container of Ben & Jerry’s on my desk. My lovely roommate Kayla only blesses me with such gifts when she knows that I need to be cheered up. Attached to the cupcake was a note saying, “Jon Stewart will always be in our hearts!” My immediate conclusion was that Stewart was surely dead. After running through all of the tragic circumstances that could have lead to Stewart’s death, I googled his name and found that he was fortunately alive and well, but had announced that he was leaving The Daily Show. Although this was significantly better news than my previous assumptions, I was still upset enough to dig into the Ben & Jerry’s.
For 16 years, Jon Stewart has held political leaders, business icons, and other members of the media accountable for their actions. Although he claims to host a “fake news” show, Stewart’s show is considered a stable and reliable news source that has more sway over public opinion more so than many of the “reputable” sources he so often takes aim at. Stewart has used the last 16 years to uncover injustice and hypocrisy in a way that is enjoyable to watch. Through his humor and wit he has influenced the way Americans watch and understand the happenings of our world, and in the process made himself a media icon.
The 2.3 million Daily Show viewers range significantly in age, background, and history. However, the typical viewer is generally young, educated, and politically frustrated. And, despite what Stewart likes to pretend, The Daily Show serves as a primary news outlet for many people. 17 percent of self-identified liberals say The Daily Show has the most accurate information on television, and 17 percent of Millennials believe that The Daily Show is the most accurate news show next to CNN. Millions who feel that the mainstream political and media leave them voiceless and unsatisfied turn to Stewart. Stewart is a call-it-how-I-see-it kind of guy that is often a source of sanity.
And through Stewart, some big names in comedy got their start. Starting as correspondents on The Daily Show, Stewart recognized and cultivated the potential of comedians such as Stephen Colbert and John Oliver. Through his position on The Daily Show, Stephen Colbert rose to fame and successfully hosted The Colbert Report for nine years before succeeding David Letterman as the host of The Late Show. John Oliver got his big break when he hosted The Daily Show over the summer of 2013 while Stewart was directing his movie Rosewater. After Oliver gained notability he started his own show, Last Week Tonight, in 2014. So far his show has been a tremendous success. Part of Stewart’s legacy are the talented comedians he has unleashed on the world. With Stewart leaving, hundreds of thousands of people are going to be looking for a new source of information. I am sure that he and his staff are hard at work figuring out a successor up for the challenge of taking over The Daily Show and making it his or her own.
Whenever I mention Stewart’s upcoming departure, whomever I am speaking with frowns and looks at the ground, mumbling about what a pity it is. But in announcing his departure, Stewart said, “[In] my heart, I know it is time for someone else…. this show doesn’t deserve an even slightly restless host, and neither do you”. Although Stewart is leaving his claim to fame, he has plans to explore bigger and brighter things. I may be sad that I will no longer have The Daily Show with Jon Stewart as a constant source of truth and humor in my life, I trust that Stewart knows what is best for himself. He is going to leave America with an excellent new host, and have time pursue his other interests. I am excited to see what he does next.