Tonight is Jon Stewart's last night as host of “The Daily Show” after 16 years at the helm.
As the “fake news” and comedy program has become increasingly political, so has Stewart shifted, in how he addresses real news, terrible news, news that affects the country's fringes to its most culturally active.
While Stewart's bits and scripts handily dwelled in cynicism and sarcasm, the entertainer's knack for bringing that plane out of a nosedive — whether with physical comedy, or with an uplifting guest, or suggesting active solutions for armchair activists — is nothing short of magic.
I enjoyed reading appreciation pieces like Inkoo Kang's “In Praise of Jon Stewart: The Bro Who Evolved” and Harry Cheadle's “Growing Up With Jon Stewart” because they address Stewart as a performer who progresses, advances, adjusts and grows.
We — as critics, fans, consumers — aren't always good with change. Stewart's brand and his jokes have arced throughout his career on the show, sometimes with hostility, silliness, earnestness, nihilism, over-investment, humility, insanity or on the backs of his supporting talent and writers.
When he announced he was departing, Stewart said that his show “doesn”t deserve an even slightly restless host, and neither do you.” His hair has greyed. His political charge has become angrier. For years, I've enjoyed laughing at the effort into which he tears and mangles his nightly show's blue cheat sheets, though that particular expression doubles as a wish for containment and frustration. When aching stupidity or the astounding lack of self-awareness exhibited by outspoken members of society from either side of the U.S. political aisle seems to be the only voice the greater public hear, I can understand how Stewart's continuance on the show could become laborious.
So here's to Jon Stewart, for the little things, the unshakeable idiosyncrasies and endearing tics and habits that helped to fill in the formula, to keep the Comedy Central show from turning into a downward spiral on fire. Despite news headlines that feel like we've entered daily into the apocalypse, there's always a flick of a wrist, a stammered sentence or a funny face that felt familiar, and moving.