On Thursday night, Jon Stewart will host his last episode of The Daily Show. After 16 years hosting the popular satire/news program, Stewart is leaving on a high note - ratings are impressive and the show hasn't backed down from taking on today's important issues. Stewart and his team of writers transformed The Daily Show from a pop culture comedy show into something more informative, meaningful, and hilarious.
I was introduced to satire in high school and immediately fell in love with the genre. The idea that you can make people laugh while informing them about a real social issue fascinated me. I quickly read whatever I could get my hands on, and to this day am grateful that my high school offered a satire course, a media studies class and a science fiction/fantasy course; all of which gave me new satirists to check out. A classmate from one of those courses suggested I check out The Daily Show. "That guy from that movie" had just finished his first year of hosting the show and it was apparently pretty funny. "That movie", by the way, was The Faculty, which was an amazing and awful movie from the late nineties about aliens taking over a high school. I had developed a crush on Stewart's Professor Edward Furlong, and the promise of seeing him without that goatee and with political satire was enough to get me to give the show a shot. That was 14 and a half years ago and I've watched nearly every episode since.
No matter what my financial circumstances were, I always made sure I could afford the cable package containing Canada's Comedy Network so I wouldn't miss an episode. For longer than I'm proud to admit, I used the show as a way to determine compatibility with potential romantic partners. If they weren't a fan, they weren't getting a second date.
On a more serious note, the show, and others inspired by it, have helped me cope with my mental illness. My depressive and hypomanic episodes can be triggered by the news, particularly tragic world events or stories with hauntingly familiar details. It's particularly hard to manage with reporters victim blame or catastrophize the situation. This makes staying informed in difficult or tragic times exceptionally difficult. The Daily Show has helped with the immensely, with Stewart and the staff treating sensitive topics with respect even as the show finds ways to make viewers laugh. When faced with an event so tragic comedy is truly inappropriate, Stewart hasn't tried. Some of the most memorable opening monologs haven't been filled with jokes but with sadness, shock, or disgust as Stewart reacts to the horrific event.
That more than anything else is what I am personally going to miss the most about Stewart - those moments where something is so wrong a choice to be funny or to be respectful must be made. Where so many other shows have and will opt to be funny, Stewart and his team opt for respect. This is one aspect of the show I hope new host Trevor Noah maintains.
During the past 14 and a half years, a lot of bad news has happened throughout the world, some tragic, some Trump-related, but through it all Stewart was there, helping us laugh. Stewart's run on The Daily Show not only showed viewers like me that it's okay to laugh at shitty things but did so in a way that highlighted the need for change. I believe I can safely say that all of us here at PopWrapped will miss him, each in our own way, and that we all wish him nothing but the best for his future. Well, nothing but the best and a few guest appearances on The Daily Show after Noah takes over, of course.
If you missed Jon's final episode, you can watch it on Comedy Central right here.