No doubt you will be hearing much this week about the coming departure of Jon Stewart from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, which would seem to be virtually impossible but is happening anyway.
I've posted about Mr. Stewart before, so if some of what follows seems familiar, please indulge me. In my house, Jon Stewart leaving our daily television viewing is tantamount to being told there will never be ice cream again. It's unthinkable, even given the months we've had to prepare.
I'm angry with him for leaving us without the outlet of wit that can guide us through the rough times. For taking with him one of the few bastions of honesty and intelligence left in television comedy. For aging just a tiny bit slower than I am and having the nerve to want to spend more time with his wife and children.
I sincerely believe Jon Stewart has helped keep me sane (if you call this sane). Events in the world can test a person, regardless of one's political bent. I happen to agree with him on most issues, but I also believe he has been considerably more "fair and balanced" than others who might try to aspire to such ideals. There were plenty of Clinton jokes. There were times when President Obama was called out by the host. So don't tell me it's just because I agree that I laughed--out loud--pretty much every night.
But when things got really frustrating or awful, we could count on Jon Stewart to find perspective, to speak truth to power, to vent our own boiling emotions and express them in ways that were almost always hilarious. Try doing that sometime. Try doing it once. Forget four days a week for 16 years.
In my house, watching Jon Stewart has been a communal, family activity. My children, who were 9 and 6 years old when he took over the show, started watching as soon as they could understand the issues he was discussing. It became unthinkable to watch Jon Stewart alone. If one of us had to be out for an evening, it was common practice to avoid watching the Daily Show from the previous night (we TiVo the show because some of us aren't staying up that late and besides you can zap the commercials) and having, the next available night, a "Jon-a-thon." We never missed a show. EVER.
From Jon Stewart came Stephen Colbert and Steve Carrell and Ed Helms and Jessica Williams (who is going to be a comic talent for many years to come) and Kristen Schaal and Rob Corddry and Lewis Black and... many more. Guests ranged from a sitting president to music legends to actors and authors (!) and politicians and activists. Each interview was about something, even if it was just getting Jon and Will Ferrell to crack each other up. The questions were intelligent and showed thought. The interviewer was rarely caught by surprise. Kudos to the Daily Show staff.
The same for the terrific writers. Was every joke a gem? Of course not. That's impossible. But the ratio of winners to losers was ridiculously high. Seeing Jon Stewart work up a head of steam on something that really riled him up was a thing of beauty.
So I'm mad at Jon Stewart for abandoning us in our time of need (an election next year; Donald Trump; conventions; waiting for Clint Eastwood's chair to come back), but then, when is a good time? There will ALWAYS be lunacy that will no longer be skewered quite so ably. I get that it had to end sometime; I just hoped I'd be dead 50 years before it happened.
I will be watching on Thursday (or maybe Friday because some of us get up early for work and that's why the gods invented TiVo) when he bids us farewell. I'm sure it will hit all the right notes and be classy and irreverent at the same time. I have no doubt there will be homage paid by numerous celebrities and I imagine--or at least hope--there will be an honest sign-off by the host at the end of the show.
I'll love every minute of it and then I'll despair. No offense to Trevor Noah, about whom I don't know nearly enough yet, but he won't be Jon Stewart.
That kind of thing happens only once.
P.S. Happy birthday, Joshua B. Cohen! Sorry Jon's leaving on your birthday.