I still haven’t recovered. I may never recover. [salty goggles]
Jon, you will be missed. Sorely.
I appreciate his reasons for leaving, but man, oh man, I feel so bereft. He was head and shoulders above any one else like him. He was, at least for me, a key — perhaps irreplaceable — voice in the world.
If you watched the show, you’ve probably seen his final appearance by now. (As always, I watched all four of the week’s episodes on Sunday.) It was an emotional experience. Clearly for those doing the show, and I imagine for every fan watching.
Unlike The Colber(t) Repor(t), which died when Stephen Colbert left last year, The Daily Show will continue with new host Trevor Noah. The general feeling and hope is that the machinery of the show itself (which is outstanding) will allow the show to be as good and as successful as it has been.
I hope so, because there is nothing else on the TV machine that comes close for me. For me, even The Colber(t) Repor(t), as good — no, outstanding — as it was, played second fiddle in the band. The mix of comedy and news and seriousness on TDS was head and shoulders above anything else of its ilk.
I’ve tried — really tried — to like The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, but I mostly just don’t. I really wish I could like it more, I really do. There needs to be a show that takes on the topic of race in this country.
But, as with all shows on Comedy Central, it is first and foremost a comedy show. One problem I have is that, as with all shows on Comedy Central, I often find the humor infantile. That is to say, not even vaguely funny. If it’s pitched for the groundlings, it’s usually a pitch in the dirt to me.
To me The Nightly Show works too hard for low-brow laughs and doesn’t spend nearly enough time seriously tackling one of the most important social issues we face. (Crucially important, if for no other reason — and there are others, than that it’s been going on for so long. Arguably it’s been going on the entire history of this country.)
So it’s been a huge disappointment for me. Every few weeks, or if there was a key event in the news, I’d give it another shot, but often I only manage to watch a couple of episodes, and rarely manage to watch all four. I often turned it off mid-show in disgust.
I may have to give Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO another chance. I’ve never been a fan of the man. I even stopped watching TDS when Oliver hosted during Stewart’s Rosewater absence. Something about him just grates. He laughs at his own funniness way too much, and I don’t perceive him as balanced.
That was the thing about Jon Stewart. He clearly leaned way left, but he didn’t view the right as strictly the territory of idiots and assholes. And he understood very well that idiots and assholes exist on both sides.
Speaking of HBO, I loath — deeply, deeply loath — Bill Maher and trying to watch his show often has me screaming at my TV. Pity, because he usually has guests with substantive, interesting opinions (a lack that is another flaw for me about Larry Wilmore’s show). Maher, to me, is the king of smug liberal assholes who believe the left has all the points.
Make no mistake. I’m way a progressive liberal (even a libertarian on many issues), but I’m under no impression it’s The One True View. In fact, I believe a conservative view is crucial to moderate and balance the excesses of progressives. (All sides can be guilty of excess.)
So what’s a person to do if they want news, social and political commentary, a bit of intelligent humor, and a truly balanced perspective? CNN is a joke, MSNBC and FNC are unspeakable, unwelcome party guests (and, to my eyes, just mirror images of each other), and PBS bores me to tears.
I’ve heard that Al Jezeera America offers good news coverage with balance, but I don’t get that on my cable channels. I hate going to websites because of all the ads and other crap websites are loaded and bloated with these days.
Jon: I get it, I wish you the very best (you’ve way earned it), and I’m looking forward to whatever you do next, but I gotta tell you that you’ve left a huge hole in the lives of many. A Grand Canyon-sized gap that will be extremely hard to fill.
This loss is made all the more poignant for me because I recently lost another valued critical voice: Keith Olbermann is no longer doing his show on ESPN. He wasn’t renewed when his contract ran out last month. (Many think it was because he was often critical of the NFL. Which ESPN in deeply in the pockets of.)
Olbermann’s show was a lot like Stewart’s. Both were half-hour shows, both had a guest interview segment, both contained pointed commentary. Stewart went after the whole world. Olbermann went after sports.
Some may remember Keith Olbermann’s Countdown, an hour-long show that used to air on MSNBC. He moved to Al Gore’s Current TV network for a while. Those were both political commentary shows. Then he showed up on ESPN with a sports show, which was a return to his roots as a sportscaster (he worked for ESPN from 1992–1997 and his acrimonious departure came, in part, due to an unauthorized appearance on, ta da, The Daily Show).
In particular, KO is a baseball fan (“fan” being a mild word in his case) as well as a baseball historian and collector. He’s a “sports guy” — yes — but his first love is baseball. (I’m mostly just a baseball guy.)
I can’t help but quote Yeats here:
Sound like a social or political scene appearing near you, perhaps?
So, what to do, what to do? I guess I can only end this as Jon Stewart ended his final The Daily Show episode. With a great Bruce Springsteen tune:
“Go forth and spread beauty… and light.”