"From the world headquarters in New York, this is the Daily Show with Jon Stewart!"
These are words our generation has been hearing for as long as we can remember. In 1999, Jon Stewart became host of a then still relatively unknown comedy news show from Craig Kilborn, and turned it into a late night staple for millions of viewers. Sixteen years later, he has announced that he will finally be stepping down from his incredibly popular show, presumably in order to move on to greater things. Naturally we were all absolutely devastated to hear this news—first "The Colbert Report" and now this—but it's also a good time to reflect on exactly how much Stewart has given us during his 16-year tenure on the show.
Stewart's specialty, what set him apart from other comedians of his class, was his ability to skillfully and sarcastically deliver the actual news in a manner which didn't warrant a lot of heckling or attempts at low-brow humor. His mastery of delivery allowed him to, for the most part, let the news speak for itself—which ended up making it hilarious. Focusing mostly on politics, he brought news to a newer, younger audience in a tasteful and entertaining light, making current events both accessible and fall-out-of-your-chair-laughing funny. He was unabashed, unafraid of going where no one had ever ventured before—and his attacks were surprisingly balanced on both sides of the political ideological scale. In one program, he could make fun of both House majority leader Mitch McConnell and President Obama. Sure like most of us, he had a more left-wing progressive lean, but he never let that stop him from poking fun when it was duly warranted.
Over the years, his program helped launch the nascent careers of several comedic geniuses including Steve Carell, John Oliver, Larry Wilmore (who now hosts the "Nightly Show" after Stewart's slot) and of course the one and only Stephen Colbert, whose "Colbert Report" was originally a spinoff of the "Daily Show" (and Jon Stewart remained an executive producer and best friend).
His guests have included presidents, dignitaries, actors, musicians, fellow comedians, Nobel peace prize winners (like Malala Yousafi), and of course political elites (many of whom went on the show because it came to have so much clout in the political playing field).
Many will remember his "Rally to Restore Sanity" in 2010, where millions of liberal-minded youth flocked the National Mall in D.C. to watch performances and hear speeches including a knockout one from Stewart himself.
Perhaps the performance which we will remember most however, is the one time Jon Stewart left his comedic post to talk about something serious and very close to his heart. The "Daily Show" had a broadcast following the events of 9/11, and Stewart, a New York native, had a few words to say about the events. His speech that night continues to move us to this day.
All we can say about this news in the end is: thanks for all the memories Jon Stewart, and best of luck in all your future endeavors!