Jon Stewart comes home. The comedian who made The Daily Show a cultural phenomenon on American television will be back on the show starting Monday, February 12th. Stewart was a pioneer of fake news before it hit politicians and the mainstream. His sharp political humor will be on display once a week in a year that predicts a new election between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. Stewart will also be a producer on the show until 2025.
The news was confirmed by Comedy Central, which hosted The Daily Show for 16 seasons since 1999. Since the departure of comedian Trevor Noah in December 2022, those responsible for the show have had difficulty finding a host. Since then, managers have bet on several comedians changing to host the legendary show that launched the careers of Steve Carrell, Stephen Colbert and John Oliver, among others.
“Stewart is the voice of our generation and it is an honor to have him back,” said Chris McCarthy, president of Showtime and MTV Entertainment, on which the comedy network depends. “At a time of shocking hypocrisy and politics for the gallery, Jon is the right person to call out the empty rhetoric and provide much-needed clarity with his brilliant wit,” he added. Stewart took over in 1999 from Craig Kilborn, a comedian who had worked for the sports network ESPN. His achievement was to transform a nightly show with modest ratings into a cultural product that was in the conversation of Americans and won ten Emmy Awards.
Stewart didn't leave The Daily Show on bad terms. His last broadcast, broadcast in August 2015, was watched by 3.5 million viewers. It had the second-best ratings in late night history (first place goes to the interview with Barack Obama in October 2008). That evening, the always eloquent Stewart was speechless and genuinely moved and close to tears in front of the cameras. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band capped this era with a performance of Land of Hope and Dreams.
Stewart is a hero for liberals. He was never afraid to wade into controversy and call right-wing journalists like Bill O'Reilly or Fox News' Sean Hannity hypocrites.
However, when Trump arrived at the White House, Stewart no longer had his beloved megaphone with him. Trevor Noah, a South African comedian, was the channel's main critic of the controversial Republican administration. Stewart still had a lot to say. In July 2016, almost a year after his departure, he was invited to the CBS late night show by Stephen Colbert.
The comedian devoted part of his time to criticizing the conservative party and Donald Trump. “A thin-skinned narcissist who has no experience in government. That sounds exactly like…Barack Obama. Now the right-wing media must spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week justifying the decision they just made,” he said after the Republican convention where the businessman was anointed.
Stewart appeared to have flipped the new talk show format. After leaving Comedy Central, he signed a content production deal with Apple and explored a twist on the formula. This partnership resulted in “The Problem,” which debuted on the Apple TV+ platform in 2021 with 20 episodes per season. Stewart used the show to speak at length about issues often perceived from political extremes such as climate change, racism, gun control and public health.
The show ran for two seasons until the tech giant announced the end of the project last October due to differences with production. Some executives had expressed concern about some of the issues “The Problem” would address in season three. Especially those dedicated to artificial intelligence and China, where the company makes its iPhones and other products. The Problem competed in the talk show category at the Emmys this year, but the award went to The Daily Show, led by Trevor Noah.
Stewart didn't get any weaker as a television star. In 2022, he won the Mark Twain Award, the highest honor that American comedians can receive for their career. “Jon made it cool to be informed,” said Olivia Munn, another actress who used The Daily Show to launch her career. Bruce Springsteen was also at the ceremony, where he played a version of The Beatles' Come Together. Stewart now faces the difficult task of uniting Americans in the polarized year of 2024.
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