Jon Stewart Reveals His Final Daily Show Guests

31 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

10 Things to Know for Friday.

Jon Stewart has named his final three guests on The Daily Show, and it looks like the host is sticking with his own kind for the last week of his run. In the closing minutes of “The Daily Show” on Thursday night, Jon Stewart confirmed the last three guests for his final week after 16 years as host: Amy Schumer, Denis Leary and Louis C.K.

The ascension of Mullah Akhtar Mansoor could widen a split between fighters who want to negotiate with the government and those who want to continue the insurgency. The stabbings — allegedly by an ultra-Orthodox Jew recently released after serving time for a similar attack several years ago — are vividly chronicled by an AP photographer. It’s hard to explain to them just how big a deal Stewart’s sudden rise was back during the Bush years, what a shock it was to see Craig Kilborn’s tacky random-riffs-on-the-headlines show turn into the most credible source of news for the millennial generation, why Stewart’s impending retirement feels so momentous and sad. Recently, Stewart revealed Leary and C.K. as two of his favorite guests, given that they’re his friends and he doesn’t really have to do any work for the interview.

The social network says it will begin testing a solar-powered drone, the next stage of its campaign to deliver Internet service to remote parts of the world. I’m one of the college kids who in 2003 and 2004 grabbed onto what seemed like certain cultural anchors of sanity in what felt like a world gone mad. As for the what the pair discussed, Fox News speculated that a crack about a shirtless Vladimir Putin, made not long after Obama warned Russian about further military intervention in Ukraine, was proof the president and host were in cahoots.

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. I remember the sense of despair as the Bush administration systematically took apart the social safety net, as Serious Pundit after Serious Pundit queued up to take their turn explaining why we absolutely had to cave into the neocons’ desire for a pointless war in Iraq, as every day revealed a new headline emphasizing that America was firmly in the hands of the religious right and the establishment left was enthusiastically welcoming our wingnut overlords.

In actuality, the meeting went more like this, according to Stewart: Obama scolded him for turning young Americans cynical, Stewart explained he was actually “skeptically idealistic,” then they argued about fixing the VA and Healthcare.gov. 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? 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?

The show will last 50 minutes to squeeze in extra goodbye time, and Comedy Central will run a best-of marathon leading up to Stewart’s last episode on Thursday. We were thirsty for any reminder that we hadn’t gone crazy, the world had, that the policies of our leaders were in fact as monstrous and deranged as they seemed to be. For Stewart, the meeting with Obama was no different than those he’s taken with big wigs in finance, tech, news and, even, Billy Joel. “And the general thrust of all those meetings or phone conversations are the same,” Stewart joked. “Basically, it’s this: ‘Jon, why are you such an asshole?'” The only meeting Stewart ever took that actually was secret was, coincidentally, with Fox News president, Roger Ailes. Looks like there will be some of Stewart’s more famous episodes and guests, from Steve Carell; Malala Yousafazai; Bill O’Reilly; Donald Rumsfeld; and Jim Cramer. Stewart cracked he was summoned to Ailes’ office by a raven, and illustrated their chat with a clip from Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal in which a character confronts the Grim Reaper. “Was the President of the United States trying to influence or intimidate or flatter me?” Stewart asked. “My guess is, uhh-huh.

More than any other recent late-night finale, I’m hearing from viewers who are not just sentimental about “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” coming to an end, they are gravely concerned. The guy who came on after the prank call puppets killed CNN’s “Crossfire” just by coming onto the show and telling everyone how intellectually and morally bankrupt it was. Op-Ed after Op-Ed cranked out expressing shock that young people saw a comedian as their “most trusted name in news.” On election night in 2004 more of us tuned in to Comedy Central than to “legitimate” news sources, because none of the legitimate news sources would openly voice the one truth about the election — that the fact that the election was even close after the disasters in Fallujah and the exposé of Abu Ghraib and the lie about Saddam’s WMD proved that our country was mad. When the results came in for Bush on the night of Nov. 2, 2004, the Serious Pundits — Democrats and Republicans — gathered together to analyze “values voters” and pontificate about how, if you thought about it from the right perspective, it made perfect sense to reelect a warmonger who’d sent thousands of American soldiers to pointless deaths just in case John Kerry might legalize gay marriage. In fact, in my entire tenure here of being yelled at by some very influential and powerful people — and Billy Joel — only with one of those people has a phone call ever ended with, quote, ‘This conversation never happened.

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. And if you say it did, I’ll deny it.'” 2015 may not bring everything that Back to the Future II promised it would: flying cars, self-lacing shoes, we don’t see ’em happening over the next 12 months. (Then again, don’t bet against Nike.) But this year will definitely pack plenty of punch when it comes to cultural happenings. 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. The pace of change is accelerating: The media landscape of only 10 years ago feels as foreign now as Walter Cronkite telling all of America “That’s the way it is” felt then.

Mad Max will roar back out of the apocalypse while Mad Men rides off into the sunset, rock’s Antichrist Superstar and hip-hop’s Yeezus will rise again. It feels weird today, in a world of a thousand contending voices on Twitter and Tumblr and YouTube, to talk about how much it meant that there was one dude back then telling the truth.

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. People told him he should run for president himself and were half-serious when they said it. (They made a movie about the concept with Robin Williams.) He felt real in a way that people who made a living talking about politics hardly ever feel. He repeatedly defaulted to saying he was “only a comedian,” that he, unlike the people he criticized, was an entertainer and not a scholar or politician or professional analyst and should not be taken seriously. People have criticized that stance as a way to dodge accountability, to have it both ways — to get to call powerful people out while denying that he himself wielded power.

Then, almost before we in the audience knew what was going on, the jokes had entirely ceased to be about celebrity gossip and weird local-news-anchor haircuts and started to be about the systematic deceit of the American people. They were able to do what they did because they came in from the entertainment industry, because they started out with no access to official sources and no credibility among the press corps and therefore had nothing to lose. 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.

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. Likewise, many of our wiser politicians listened to their younger advisers and constituents and played “The Daily Show’s” game, rolling with the mockery instead of against it, which became a reliable way to project confidence.

Barack Obama told Jon Stewart, accurately, that “the only person more overhyped than me is you.” It was like the plot of “Network” playing out in real life. 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. So yes, I wholeheartedly agree with the typical criticisms of Stewart–that he was at his best doing negative “takedowns” of hypocrites and phonies while being mediocre at best when trying to think up solutions. 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. That he was a person who found himself constantly playing the antagonistic gadfly, the critic, and it was a role he wanted to escape without really knowing how–hence the confused, wishy-washy positivity of his Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.

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 overwhelming quality I sense from him is how tired he seems, how overwhelmed he is by the burden of having to go be Jon Stewart on camera every day.

His weariness has been a part of his shtick since he slumped down in despair in November 2004; it resurfaces every time he sighs in exhausted exasperation as the coda to another rant about Donald Trump. Today, he bluntly describes his lifestyle of taking down, destroying, eviscerating, etc., as “turd mining” and seems to eagerly look forward to the day he doesn’t have to touch the turds anymore. Look at me, a former insurance company flunky sitting here writing an Op-Ed acting like I’m qualified to analyze Jon Stewart one year after blowing up on Twitter over a game show. 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. Jon Stewart going from B-list entertainer to our generation’s Cronkite arguably foreshadowed a world where anyone can be plucked from obscurity at a moment’s notice.

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. Wading into the fray with enthusiasm, striking out at bullshit wherever he could find it, pulling aggro and taking names — because he felt a responsibility to do it, because he felt he could help people by doing it, but also because it felt so good to finally have that kind of power, to actually change something instead of just joking about it. 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.

But, without excusing it, I empathize: Stewart having to play the Messiah, Stewart having to be the Conscience of Liberal America, Stewart facing the impossible task of being some kind of moral standard-bearer while also making people laugh every night. It wasn’t fair to Stewart for Cenac, who’d never met the man before working for him, to expect him to be a mentor and father figure because of the image he projected on TV.

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