Can we go on without Jon Stewart? Of course we can. He’s shown us how.

31 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Can we go on without Jon Stewart? Of course we can. He’s shown us how..

Nothing comes to an end in television without a silly but also meaningful grieving process. The biggest change when Trevor Noah takes over hosting duties on The Daily Show from the retiring Jon Stewart in September will be, obviously, the face behind the desk.

“I took this guy to Comedy Cellar tonight and he couldn’t resist the mic,” said former ‘Daily Show’ executive producer Rory Albanese. “The Cellar is where it all began for Jon. This was an awesome moment.” The exiting Comedy Central late-night host made a rare onstage appearance at the famed Comedy Cellar in New York City on Wednesday night, according to Mediaite. This Thursday’s end of Jon Stewart’s incomparable, culturally significant run as the host of Comedy Central’s “Daily Show” cuts deeper than the usual sign-off.

Even though the 52-year-old host announced his departure nearly six months ago with a clear-eyed assessment (“This show doesn’t deserve an even slightly restless host, and neither do you”), his most devoted viewers still speak the language of denial: How can he leave us? View Archive How, for just one example, can Stewart turn his back on such a bountiful, irresistible clown car full of GOP presidential hopefuls sputtering down the road to 2016? Now, you’ve got the Gawkers and the BuzzFeeds, and the way people are absorbing their news in sound bites and headlines and little click links has changed everything. So the biggest challenge — and it’s going to be an exciting one on the show — is how do we bring all of that together, looking at it from through a bigger lens as opposed to just going after one source, which was historically Fox News.

Stewart took over hosting the show from Craig Kilborn in 1999, but in popular memory, he and “The Daily Show” became indispensable in the bizarre aftermath of the neck-’n’-neck 2000 presidential election — “Indecision 2000,” as “The Daily Show” dubbed it. That’s easier to say than do — it’s often hard to turn what’s interesting about the internet into compelling television — but Noah, whose comedy often focuses less on specific political issues than it does on broader issues of race, identity, and prejudice, could well be up to the task. If you still fail to grasp why an entire generation considers Stewart to be so much more than just a comedy/talk-show host and instead regards him as both their Edward R. Murrow and their Mark Twain, then just do the math: If you first voted as an 18-year-old in the 2000 election (or even if you just meant to do so, harangued by all those MTV “Rock the Vote” ads interrupting your TRL daze), then you are now in your mid-30s. When the events of Sept. 11, 2001, made everyone stop and question (for a relative nanosecond, it turned out) the role of irony and snark in a deadly serious moment of national mourning, “Daily Show” viewers doubled down for Stewart’s ability to synthesize and cut through the steady rhythm of B.S. coming from the drums of war.

Instead of guitar riffs they mastered video clip collages — supercuts — in which a politician or a pundit could be indicted and lampooned simply by his or her own words and how he or she delivered them. In 2005, during the darkest days of the nation’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” and Comedy Central hatched an ideal companion piece in “The Colbert Report,” starring a fictional conservative blowhard (played by Stephen Colbert), pretending to counterbalance Stewart’s nightly hammering of the Establishment. All along, Stewart himself downplayed and often disavowed the notion that his show’s take on the news was nutritional enough to comprise an entire news diet. Journalists, who were among Stewart’s biggest fans, eventually learned not to feel threatened; over time, their work even began to echo some of “The Daily Show’s” techniques. Formerly staid news organizations (The Post among them) gave a broader license to reporters and bloggers to cut through disinformation, or to ease up on a stultifying obligation to always air “both sides” of an issue ad infinitum, or to drop in a wry or even knifey observation here and there.

Ultimately, though, no matter how much the media or the politicos were hip to Stewart’s style, they would almost always be the losers in this equation — old school, old ways, hopelessly unhip to the plain truth. Online, “seriously?” became “srsly?” a sort of weaponized, aggressively abbreviated form of the word indicating both disgust and rejection of what was being said by the powers (any powers) that be. It’s a way of telling the world that this sort of nonsense (the obfuscation, the doublespeak, the lies) just isn’t going to fly right past the viewer/voter anymore.

Srsly — and all gestures and sounds and eyerolls that resemble it — was not necessarily a Jon Stewart invention, but, years from now, srsly will still evoke a flavor of the Jon Stewart era. The horrors became more horrific — a mass shooting occurs nearly every day; a gross violation of civil rights spreads across the Internet; foreign policy crises morph and become more hopeless.

A former colleague and protege, John Oliver, started “Last Week Tonight” on HBO in 2014, proving that the only way to break through now is to be louder and wildly apoplectic at the world’s infinite idiocy. Although it is difficult for his fans to imagine a world without Stewart (or to readily welcome his much younger and entirely different replacement, Trevor Noah), I would suggest that Stewart’s work is essentially finished. The generation that grew up and older and wiser while watching Stewart can easily carry on the work themselves: Anyone with spare time and search-engine savvy can assemble a supercut or some equally spot-on sketch that is devastating and insightful.

Look at how fast this tribe can move on issues, when motivated, whether it’s about the senseless death of a woman under police custody or the senseless death of a lion in Zimbabwe.

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