Jon Stewart Returns to ‘The Daily Show’ Desk

Jon Stewart Returns to ‘The Daily Show’ Desk: Nine years and numerous political scandals with a penchant for generating jokes later, the individual who undeniably transformed Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” into a cultural phenomenon returned to his desk on Monday night. Engaged in fake-scribbling on his blue note paper, he was met with a resounding standing ovation that drowned out the familiar theme song. Throughout the intervening years, various contenders tried their hand at the comedic throne, with varying degrees of success. Despite the temporary occupants, there remains a long-term plan to appoint a permanent successor, potentially drawing from the pool of correspondents set to host on Tuesdays through Thursdays at 11 EST/PST.

Jon Stewart Returns to 'The Daily Show' Desk

The prodigal king has made his return. Jon Stewart, adorned with the same hangdog expression but now sporting stubble and a touch more grey in his hair, posed the question, “Why am I back?” eliciting laughter from the audience. In his first crack at “The Daily Show” since signing off in 2015 after a 16-year tenure, Stewart humorously alluded to a man whose campaign had just started when he stepped down. Addressing the immunity supposedly granted to talk show hosts, he made a sly reference to former President Trump’s legal maneuvers to evade consequences for the January 6 Capitol assault, wryly suggesting that the Founders be consulted on the matter. Despite his hiatus, Stewart remained in the public eye through sporadic online appearances, advocacy for sick Ground Zero workers, and his recent stint as the host of Apple TV+’s “The Problem with Jon Stewart,” which he revealed was canceled because the network was cautious about him expressing potentially controversial views.

Jon Stewart, now 61, the perennially disgruntled voice of outrage and humor, has adeptly returned to his familiar soapbox. In a seamless transition, it felt as if no time had passed as Stewart nonchalantly shrugged, eye-rolled, and utilized his trademark weird voices in the opening segment. The content careened from the Super Bowl, humorously noting that the Kansas City Chiefs’ win supposedly signaled the completion of Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift’s vaccination campaign according to certain conservative conspiracies, to the upcoming showdown between presumptive party nominees Donald Trump and Joe Biden (“Election 2024: Electile Dysfunction”).
True to form, Stewart placed politics front and center, satirizing with an equal opportunity approach. Whether skewering the Trump family or highlighting President Biden’s questionable memory, Stewart demonstrated his trademark wide-eyed “my-head-is-exploding” look during a clip where Trump claimed to forget if he had a good memory. Even President Biden wasn’t spared, as Stewart used withering facial expressions to mock a recent press conference moment where Biden went back to the podium to discuss Gaza’s non-existent neighbor, Mexico. As always, Stewart’s wit and comedic inventiveness were on full display, proving that he can effortlessly create words if need be.

In a pre-Super Bowl interview, President Biden did not have the opportunity to address the nation regarding his 2024 platform, as clarified by Jon Stewart. Instead, Biden opted for a TikTok video where he expressed his preference for “Mama Kelce” over her football-playing sons, citing her reputed talent for making great chocolate chip cookies. Stewart, wearing a blank expression for comedic effect, couldn’t hold back his suggestion to the president: “Fire. Everyone. How do you go on TikTok and end up looking older?”
During a conversation about the age of candidates, Stewart remarked on the absurdity of expecting voters to silence concerns and criticisms, asserting that it is the candidates’ responsibility to address those concerns. To drive home his point, Stewart, known for his signature moves, turned to the camera and requested a closeup. Pointing to his craggy features, he humorously remarked, “Look at me; look what time hath wrought. Give the kids a look at the lunar surface here,” highlighting that he is 20 years younger than the presidential contenders.

When Jon Stewart bid farewell to his “Daily Show” audience in August 2015, he framed his departure as just a temporary pause in an ongoing conversation with his fans, emphasizing that the show’s end didn’t signify the conclusion of the dialogue. Now that the conversation has resumed, Stewart, taking a more serious tone, shared a valuable insight. Reflecting on the past nine years, he expressed that the pursuit of a better world involves the relentless efforts of those who actively engage with the system and work tirelessly to ensure the proper functioning of democracy. Amidst the competition for a single position, Stewart emphasized the importance of continual concern for the country, both before and after election day. Following a momentary pause for applause, Stewart, wearing his characteristic smile-smirk, displayed his trademark enthusiasm at being back. Adding a touch of humor, he quipped, “Although, on the plus side, I’m told at some point the sun will run out of hydrogen.”

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