The fate of The daily show has never been more uncertain than in the weeks leading up to Comedy Central’s Hail Mary decision to bring back Jon Stewart as Monday night host until the 2024 presidential election.
On the one hand, the series had just won its first Emmy Award since Trevor Noah took over from Stewart in 2015. But on the other, it still didn’t have a permanent replacement for the more than a year-old South African comedian. year after his departure. as Daily show correspondent Roy Wood Jr. clearly reminded viewers, saying “please hire a host” from the Emmy stage.
Then, after Comedy Central delayed the show’s post-Christmas return from early January to February 12 and announced what was essentially the end of a year-long search for a host, a show insider told me predicted that the network could run out. the clock until a potential Paramount merger to kill the series completely.
But The daily show was still very much alive — and desperately trying to recapture its old magic — Monday night when Stewart returned to The Office as host for the first time in nearly a decade, to rapturous applause from the studio audience. He began with the phrase: “Now where have I been?”
Stewart said that in the coming weeks and months, he’ll likely use his reclaimed platform to talk about China and artificial intelligence — the two topics that reportedly prompted Apple to cancel his show on that service — as well as ” something a little lighter” like Israel and Palestine. But for his first show, he took advantage of Sunday night’s Super Bowl to get to work on the race between Joe Biden and Donald Trump: “These fucking guys?!
Over the next 17 minutes or so, Stewart laid out the battle between the two men, including using footage of Trump and his adult children failing to remember various basic facts during their own depositions after Biden was called a ” well intentioned “. elderly man with poor memory” by Special Advisor Robert Hur last week. “Yes, it turns out that the leading cause of early-onset dementia is disappearing,” the host joked.
Stewart has made a point of mocking Biden’s age-related gaffes just as aggressively as Trump’s, including everything from the president’s unfortunate mix-up during an angry press conference that aimed to allay concerns, to ‘to the bizarre TikTok videos he decided to post. it only made him “look older”.
After briefly noting that Trump was also getting older, Stewart asked, “What the hell are we doing here, people?” Even though Biden has “lost a step,” he argued that Trump “regularly says things at rallies that would warrant a health check,” but his conclusion is that they are “equally disputed.”
“One thing we know for sure is this: We have two candidates who are chronically outside the norm of anyone who has run for president in the history of this country,” Stewart said, adding that they “both push the limits of being”. capable of handling the toughest job in the world.
And he pushed back on the idea that voters “need to silence their concerns and criticism,” arguing that that’s the job of the candidates themselves. Finally, he acknowledged that “Joe Biden is not Donald Trump,” citing the lack of criminal charges, “but the stakes in this election do not make Donald Trump’s opponent any less subject to scrutiny.”
“If your man loses, bad things could happen, but the country is not finished,” he said. “And if your man wins, the country is not saved.”
Stewart left The daily show in 2015, when Trump was still just a joke of a candidate who recently went down a golden escalator. And while no one, including Stewart, thinks his comedies could have done anything to stop Trump from becoming president, he said he wants to return this year so he can have some influence on the 2024 speech .
So far, it appears that influence includes using his old platform to tell Americans that their two choices for president are not so different and just as terrible.