Jon Stewart, iconic host of “The Daily Show,” made a triumphant return on Monday night, reclaiming the comedy throne he vacated in August 2015. This marked the kickoff of a well-laid plan announced in January, where Stewart is set to grace the show’s stage every Monday leading up to the presidential election, also taking on the role of executive producer.
In his return, Stewart, showing a few more gray hairs, seamlessly blended classic humor with a touch of self-deprecation. Opening with a comedic reference to his absence, he delved into the 2024 edition of the show’s famed “Indecision” election coverage, proposing playful titles like “Indecision 2024: American Demockracy” and “Indecision 2024: Electile Dysfunction.” With his familiar left-leaning perspective, he took jabs at the Super Bowl and poked fun at the right’s penchant for politicizing every aspect of American life.
Stewart’s comeback also featured a bit where correspondents Ronny Chieng, Desi Lydic, Michael Kosta, and Dulce Sloan reported from the same diner, a clever spoof on campaign coverage tropes. The show’s lineup will include these correspondents, along with Jordan Klepper, taking turns hosting from Tuesday through Thursday. The first guest of the comeback episode was Zanny Minton Beddoes, editor in chief of The Economist.
In the broader context, Stewart joins a list of celebrity fill-ins since Trevor Noah’s departure in December 2022. Yet, Stewart’s impact on “The Daily Show” over 16 years as host is undeniable, transforming it into late-night’s premier program. Originally a pop culture snark-fest under Craig Kilborn, the show evolved into topical satire under Stewart, serving as a news source for many despite Stewart’s insistence on prioritizing entertainment over information.
The post-Stewart era, helmed by Trevor Noah, experienced a decline in ratings and profile, reflective of a broader downturn in late-night show relevance in the streaming age. Stewart’s own post-“Daily Show” ventures, including an HBO animated show and an Apple TV+ talk show, faced challenges, with the latter ending due to creative differences.
In an interview on “CBS Mornings,” Stewart explained his return, expressing a desire for a platform during the election. Initially planning to share his thoughts on Apple TV+, he encountered restrictions that led him back to the familiar territory of “The Daily Show.” With a hint of nostalgia, Stewart remarked on the wealth of topics to explore this year, from elections to China, A.I., and even the lighter aspects of global affairs.
Stewart’s return is not just a comeback; it’s a reunion with a platform that has consistently resonated with audiences over the years, particularly during pivotal moments in American politics.