Instead of a cavalcade of celebrities wishing him well, Jon Stewart brought together everything that pushed The Daily Show to greatness over the last 16 and a ½ years.
Stewart had almost all the correspondents over his tenure at the show appear including Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Nancy Walls, Rob Corddry, Jason Jones, Samantha Bee, Rob Riggle, Kristen Schaal, Mo Rocca, Nate Corddry, Larry Wilmore, John Oliver, Aasif Mandvi, Dan Bakkedahl, Vance DeGeneres, John Hodgman, Lewis Black, Michael Che, Ed Helms, Josh Gad, Dave Atell, Olivia Munn, Hasan Minhaj, Jessica Williams, Jordan Klepper, Al Madrigal, Wyatt Cenac (it seems like they’ve made up), and future host Trevor Noah.
If you take a look at that list of names, you’ll notice that many have gone on to have their own very successful careers, often getting their very own show to host or star in that you probably watch and enjoy like The Daily Show. In fact, it’s staggering who is on the list that comprises The Daily Show with Jon Stewart alumni considering how much star power has come from just one run of one show.
Colbert is hosting The Late Show, Carell is a bonafide Hollywood star, John Oliver has gain so much critical acclaim for his show Last Week Tonight and he’s only two seasons in, Ed Helms has also become a movie star, Larry Wilmore also got his own show, The Nightly Show, Jason Jones and Samantha Bee are about to premiere their own shows at TBS, John Hodgman has written books and gotten to tour as a comedian, Dave Attell is still one of the funniest stand-ups around, Rob Corddry has Childrens Hospital, Michael Che co-anchors Weekend Update on SNL and tours as a stand-up, Josh Gad has gotten to do both Frozen and The Comedians on FX, and Kristen Schaal co-stars in Last Man on Earth and has risen up as a comedian in her own right. That’s just what we can think of just off the top of our head.
Then, Stewart featured a quick round of his detractors and their parting shots including Arbys and Bill O’Reilly. Taking on his opponents head on, unafraid what they might fire back and being able to retort wonderfully made Stewart into the cultural icon that he is.
Near the close of the finale, he imparted some words of wisdom, or rather words to restore sanity, about being vigilant in watching for bullshit. It’s a message that Stewart always pushed for in the show, no matter how far left of the aisle anyone thought he was leaning, and it’s one of the clearest reasons Jon became a force to reckon with not only in comedy, but with pretty much anything that he talked about.
Also, Jon let Stephen Colbert go off script and pour his heart out at the end of the correspondent farewell bit, even though he started to tear up. It’s that sort of vulnerability that folks connected with well over a decade and will remember for years and years to come.
You can watch the full finale here if you haven’t already.