Critic’s Notebook: The Nostalgia of Jon Stewart’s ‘Daily Show’ Return

9 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Did Jon Stewart Just Give Us a Taste of What He’ll Be Doing for HBO?.

Trevor Noah has been the host of The Daily Show for about eight weeks now, enough to settle into a rhythm and establish himself as the new permanent host.Donning a gray T-shirt and his ever-growing scruffy beard, Stewart blasted Congress for not automatically renewing the Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act, a now-expired bill providing healthcare to first responders who worked at the site of the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11 attacks. “These first responders, many sick with cancers and pulmonary disease, have had to travel at their own expense to Washington, D.C., hundreds of times to plead for our government to do the right thing.” The former host said there is only one conclusion he could draw from law makers’ failure to renew the bill: “The people of Congress are not as good of people as the people who are first responders.” Stewart said that he accompanied some of the first responders on one of their many trips down to the nation’s capital: “I don’t really have a life anymore … I’m unemployed now, so I’m really available all day.” The legislation still hasn’t been renewed, and New York legislators have been busy trying to rally their colleagues to pass a long-term extension of the law so those at the mercy of Congress don’t have to worry about their health care disappearing every few years.

Which means the time is ripe for the ghost of Jon Stewart to stop haunting the halls of the show’s New York City studio and finally drop by as a guest. There’s the omnibus spending bill – the one that needs to pass if we’re going to avoid a shutdown – or a tax-breaks extension. […] House Speaker Paul Ryan told NBC News last week, “We have not decided what vehicle it will be or what funding level but it is something we do intend to get done by the end of the year.” For many involved in the fight, Paul Ryan’s intentions aren’t entirely reassuring. He and Stewart launched into a bunch of bits—about whether the grizzled, salt-and-pepper-bearded former host was lost, and nodding to the Conan O’Brien/Jay Leno beef about late-night hosts taking their shows back. The act passed in 2010, but portions of it expired Sept. 30, and the rest will expire next October. “What message does it send to our first responders if, once we’re done as a nation with them helping us, we forget about them?” Stewart asked. Stewart’s deal with HBO has him focusing, for now, on “short-form digital content” for the HBO Go and HBO Now streaming services. (With a potential for TV series and movie projects down the road.) We got a taste of what a short-form digital piece from Stewart might look like last night.

Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said, “I’ll tell you the legislation I’d like to propose: that those who block this legislation in its final week be required to attend a funeral of a first responder who rushed to the towers, got toxic stuff in his body, and died. To shame Congress into doing something to protect the act, Stewart mustered a full camera crew and produced something that looked a lot like a classic Daily Show pre-taped segment. Stewart then went on to use his temporary Daily Show platform in order to take direct aim at Senator Mitch McConnell and present a stunning visual on the health of 9/11 first responders. He is the key to getting this done, and so far he has been an enormous obstacle – unwilling to move the bill forward for purely political reasons.” For what it’s worth, there were quite a few rumors last week that McConnell was backing down and would allow the reauthorization to move forward, but the scuttlebutt proved to be wrong, or at least premature. And, on a recent podcast, HBO’s other shiny new star Bill Simmons said Stewart confided that he was worn out from being at the center of a polarized and extreme news cycle.

There’s no indication whether those HBO segments will be bookended by Stewart sitting back behind a desk like his former colleague John Oliver does. But after watching him scream “he’s not nice!” in reference to McConnell, it’s clear that Stewart in disgruntled, bearded anchorman mode would be pure magic for HBO.

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