The End of an Era
"There is no such thing as an impartial jury because there are no impartial people. There are people that argue on the web for hours about who their favorite character on 'Friends' is." — Jon Stewart
It's hard to believe, but "The Daily Show" is in its 20th season. And since it's been known as "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" for so long, it's easy to forget that when the show debuted in 1996, it was with host Craig Kilborn.
As an avid fan of "SportsCenter," I was familiar with Kilborn and his unique brand of comedy and delivery. He helped original "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central, and helmed it for three years and nearly 400 episodes.
But in 1999, Jon Stewart took over as host of "The Daily Show" as Kilborn moved on to his own late night show on CBS. That's when "The Daily Show" really took off.
I knew "The Daily Show" existed before Stewart took over as host, but I didn't know what it was, nor did I watch it, prior to the hosting change. That's true of many Americans, and critics as well. During Stewart's tenure, the show transformed from a novel concept into an American institution.
During his time as host, "The Daily Show" has won 17 Emmy Awards and helped launch the careers of countless, comedians, including Steve Carell, Ed Helms, and Stephen Colbert. In the last year alone "Daily Show" contributors John Oliver and Larry Wilmore have gotten their own shows, too. And after a successful run on Comedy Central, Colbert is poised to take over for David Letterman.
But it's not just the awards and careers helped that make Stewart stand out — it's his contribution to culture, especially among those 40 and under. During recent years many younger viewers have commented that they get their news from "The Daily Show."
That might sound odd for a comedy news show, but often Stewart tackles the tough topics and issues in a relatable way. Some would argue that he brings a specific political slant — which is true — but what cable news channel or news show doesn't? Those 40 and under don't watch the nightly network news faithfully, but they will tune in at 11 p.m. EST to watch a comedic slant on the news.
It's not just that, Stewart uses his position to shine a light on fascinating thinkers who are delivering documentaries and books that add to our culture, and our understanding of world events. Each year I see interviews with authors that inspire me to pick up their book and grow as an adult and member of society. That's a rare, precious gift.
We don't know when Stewart will vacate the host seat — aside from the nebulous later this year comment — but I do know that when he goes, he'll be missed. And "The Daily Show" will never be the same.