With Jon Stewart leaving the daily show tonight, there will be a ton of “In Memory Of Jon Stewart” articles on the internet, so here’s another one.
I fell in love with Jon Stewart in the mid 90s when he got his own show on MTV. I had seen him on You Wrote It You Watch It, but was never super into that show. But once he got The Jon Stewart Show, I was hooked.
Talk shows were a huge part of my teenage years. Nightly I would watch Letterman, then switch over to NBC to watch Conan. So when MTV had their own talk show, which seemed more catered to me than the others, I adored it instantly.
You replaced the fancy business suits, with a laid back pair of jeans and a leather jacket. It felt way more casual, like we were hanging out instead of going to the theater for a show.
You replaced the witty band leader and the quick witted Andy Richter with a weird, hilarious sidekick named Howie. To be honest, my love for the show was born with Howie. Conan was doing a lot of weird stuff that I loved, but Howie was something else. He was so committed and went for it with everything they asked him to do. He was a perfect balance of absurdity to Stewart’s laid back cool dude.
From the same network that had allowed me to begin finding just what kind of sense of humor I had while giving me The State, I was now learning a lot more about what I found funny, and what was possible with comedy.
Unfortunately, the show didn’t last very long. But I still had Letterman and Conan to fill my talk show needs. Occasionally I’d fall asleep during Letterman, which was always the worst because I would then wake up during the Late Late Show with Tom Snyder, and I hated Tom Snyder.
Until one night when I woke up and Tom Snyder wasn’t there. Instead, there was Jon Stewart filling in. But it wasn’t the jeans wearing leather jacket toting Stewart, this was suited Jon Stewart. There was no Howie. There was no craziness. It was just Jon Stewart sitting across from the guest having a conversation, just like Tom Snyder always did. And it was fabulous.
He was so natural, he was so likable. His interviews felt like conversations, despite the more formal setting. And he was filling in a lot, so it was awesome. Jon Stewart filling in on the Late Late Show was the only thing that ever prevented me from switching over to Conan.
Then came the time for Tom Snyder to leave the Late Late Show, and I was ecstatic. Obviously Jon Stewart was going to get the job. I’d no longer have to change the channel after Letterman. I loved Conan and always would, but a Letterman/Stewart lineup couldn’t be beat.
But, it didn’t happen. Instead, Craig Kilborn got the job. I enjoyed the daily show enough, but had no interest in Kilborn following Letterman. Out of this came some good news though, as Stewart would be replacing Kilby on The Daily Show. The Daily Show was OK, but it wasn’t nothing special. I felt Jon Stewart deserved something better. Something bigger.
I’ll be honest here, I am the one person that enjoyed Jon Stewart as an actor. I saw Big Daddy in theaters, not for Adam Sandler, but for Jon Stewart. I waited a long time for the opportunity to see Playing By Heart, not for young up and comers Ryan Phillippe and Angelina Jolie, or my beloved Gillian Anderson, but for Jon Stewart. I saw the Faculty opening night, for Jon Stewart. I legitimately love Death To Smoochie.
As disappointed as I may have been that he had to settle for the Daily Show, I was still happy to have the opportunity to watch him four nights a week. I enjoyed him phasing out the 5 questions bit that Kilby did, and doing it cleverly early. I enjoyed watching him transfer the show from something that lightly joked about the headlines, to something that really tackled them. The day’s news was no longer just quick one liners. It was expanded upon, mocked, torn apart. And it was glorious.
The only negative about my love for Jon Stewart, is that he’s made such a large impact on the planet that it’s hard to talk about him without it turning into something about politics. Which is a shame.
To me, the Daily Show was never about politics. It’s about the media, 100%. It’s a comedy show that took it upon itself to start calling the media out for nonsense in a time when we needed the media to be called out.
In that process, Jon Stewart showed me that comedy could be more than just telling jokes if you wanted it to be. You had the power to make jokes as powerful as you wanted. You could do more with them if you wanted to. Sure, there were comics that had pushed boundaries.
I could go over my favorite moments of his during the Daily Show era, such as going through four elections with him, or his amazing CrossFire take down, or the Jim Cramer confrontation, or any number of thousands of memories that come to mind of the Daily Show, but I won’t. That would be too hard.
I’ve always dreamed of doing something that would get me to the level of fame to be a guest on a talk show, and my biggest goal for that dream was to sit down across from Jon Stewart and derail the interview by professing my love of his movie career. As much as I love Conan and Letterman, Stewart was always my biggest dream to be interviewed by. That dream is currently on hiatus until we figure out what he does next, and that’s a bummer to me.
My love for Jon Stewart predates the Daily Show, and will live on beyond it. I thank him greatly for all the laughs so far, and any that will come in the future.