The parallels were impossible to ignore, so Jon Stewart He decided not to ignore them. The two major American political parties have been unable to find new candidates to top their presidential lists, leading to a rematch in the 2024 election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. And in a much smaller effort to find a leader for a legacy institution, Comedy Central has yet to decide on a new direction for “The daily show” following the departure of Trevor Noah, despite months of public testing from guest hosts such as Sarah Silverman, Roy Wood Jr., Desus Nice and more. So the network has brought Stewart back for a weekly Monday night appearance, starting with this week’s season premiere.
These similarities do not go unnoticed by anyone, least of all by Stewart himself. Aside from an extended runtime and a quick appearance by former correspondent Jordan Klepper, there was little to announce tonight’s episode as a major event or a break from routine. From the monologue to the staged “field” segment, to the interview and the Zen Moment, the development of the show proceeded as usual, or rather, as it usually did until 2015, the last time Stewart was in the chair. The main feeling was not one of triumphant return or even nostalgia, but rather déjà vu. For long periods, it was as if Stewart had never made a abortive attempt on an animated news show for HBO, nor did he make an Emmy-nominated series for Apple TV+ until the tech company shuddered at a possible controversy. You could almost believe that Stewart had remained fixed in the seat where he clearly still feels comfortable, watching montages of news clips and grimacing at political gaffes.
Until Stewart used himself as an example. For almost 20 minutes, the comedian exposed the absurdity of a rematch between two men who had already They have been the longest running presidential candidates in American history. He then turned to face the camera. “Look at me,” she urged. “Look what time has done.” Despite being decades younger than Trump or Biden, Stewart could still recognize the obvious joke: Politicians aren’t the only ones who have trouble passing the torch.
Stewart also outsourced some of his self-deprecation. “This is the same shit again!” shouted correspondent Dulcé Sloan. “We need more than the same program with an older but familiar face.” (Obviously playing along, Stewart asked, “We’re talking about the election, right?”) Klepper stopped by the studio to challenge his former boss’s “sarcastic, two-sided style,” channeling some of the more substantive criticisms of Stewart . that arose during his absence. The Apple show occasionally went viral for its confrontational interviews, but while Stewart in the Bush era was a reassuring source of exasperated sanity, political comedy during the Trump years could seem like a futile fist shake in the face of a cultural tsunami.
The jokes at Stewart’s expense helped diffuse the initial awkwardness, but they don’t resolve the fundamental tension underlying everything from the election to Bob Iger’s second stint at Disney to Stewart’s own coming full circle moment. We are at a crossroads where systems are stuck in a loop, running their own outdated playbooks with diminishing returns. “The Daily Show” airs on a network with dwindling original programming, owned by a conglomerate desperately seeking a new owner as its value steadily declines. Bringing Stewart back is a momentary bright spot, but there’s still another three days a week of episodes to fill. Which are those What will it look like and for how long until a longer-term solution arrives, if ever?
Anyone with vivid memories of the war on terror is unable to resist Stewart’s particular blend of cynicism and moral rectitude. However, the lack of pomp and circumstance surrounding his return means that the meta aspects of him become the most significant. Stewart could mock Biden’s worn-out faculties or point out Trump’s endless shortcomings while he sleeps. It’s not the jokes themselves that help demonstrate the absurdity of the current snake-eats-its-tail news cycle. He is the man who delivers them and how many times have we seen him before.