Earlier this week, Jon Stewart announced that he will be leaving The Daily Show later this year. For my wife and me, it’s going to be like losing a treasured family member, albeit one we’ve never personally met.
Stewart’s ability to speak truth to power, to take issue with guests espousing points of views with which he disagrees, to express outrage when warranted, and to be wildly funny as he skewers political and social absurdity, well, all of these things have endeared him to my household, and we will miss him sorely when he no longer visits us four nights a week.
Perhaps Stewart’s greatest strength is his ability to attack on a factual basis rather than the opinion foundation upon which idiots like the Fox News staff operates. True, he does do a wicked imitation of Mitch McConnell as a turtle but, well, McConnell does look like a turtle, and when Stewart goes into turtle mode, it’s to assail the senator’s positions even while imitating his image. I’m not in favor of ad hominem attacks, but Stewart somehow manages to hold people like McConnell up to ridicule less because of what they look like than for what they seem to stand for. And sometimes he does it by mimicking them in much the way that a political cartoonist might with pen and ink.
It’s of course been well noted that Stewart’s positions veer left, and that at least 70% of his viewing audience is liberal. But many conservatives watch him, as well, and it is hard to know how they can continue to support morons like Ted Cruz and Louie Gohmert after Stewart repeatedly points out that, just as the fabled emperor, these guys and others, perhaps slightly less stupid but no less deserving of exposure, have no clothes.
It may be true that no one is irreplaceable, but at least we’ll have John Oliver on HBO, a worthy candidate for the title of court jester, although he could stand to learn the key lesson that judicious use of profanity is far more effective than the wholesale spewing of it. Regardless, we’re glad he’s there. And will anyone actually be chosen to succeed Stewart on Comedy Central? We hope so, but his act is going to be more than hard to follow.
Jonny, we hardly knew ye.