Hearts ached as Stephen Colbert, the celebrated host of “The Colbert Report,” announced that he would be departing his namesake show to host “Late Night”. Then, Jon Stewart announced his departure from “The Daily Show” on Feb. 10, leaving his avid fans with broken hearts just four days before Valentine’s Day.
Stewart’s history is nothing short of varied. Stewart graduated from William & Mary College in 1984 and bounced between jobs from the New Jersey Department of Human Services to the City University of New York to New Jersey’s famous punk club, City Garden. Eventually, Stewart invented a stage name — ditching his original last name of Leibowitz — and returned to New York City in hopes of establishing a presence on the comedy club circuit. After performing every day for two years at the Comedy Cellar in Manhattan, Stewart landed a writing position for a comedy show which led to hosting positions on Comedy Central and MTV.
Stewart’s name recognition grew tremendously and was originally thought to be the first choice to replace David Letterman on “Late Night” in 1993, when the position was given to a relatively unknown comedian: Conan O’Brien. After, Stewart developed his own television show, “The Jon Stewart Show,” which was canceled after a two-year run due to subpar ratings. He continued to guest host in various positions, when in 1999 he was hired to take over “The Daily Show” for Craig Kilborn.
The 16-year legacy of Stewart is as tremendous and as wide-ranging as his early career. A two-time Peabody Award winner, film director, writer, producer and honorary Liberian chief, Stewart has almost done it all. He has interviewed a wide variety of people, too, from famous politicians like President Obama and Harvard-Professor- turned-Senator Elizabeth Warren to technology magnate and philanthropist Bill Gates to a slew of Hollywood celebrities and comedians.
Perhaps most importantly, however, Stewart redefined the world of late night television by combining his wit, charisma and knowledge to produce political satire that is as humorous as it is insightful. In fact, while Stewart’s primary job is comedy, some viewers tune into “The Daily Show” as their daily source of news. Some viewers even suggested that Stewart should replace Brian Williams, who is currently on leave due to fallacious reporting, on NBC. Even former President Bill Clinton tweeted, “Where will I get my news each night?”
“The Daily Show” has a massive search ahead before Stewart steps down from the host position. The Internet is abuzz with suggestions for replacements: Jessica Williams, who recently denied the position, Seth Meyers, Craig Ferguson and Amy Poehler are among them. Comedy Central has a rumored short-list.
Stewart does not have plans to continue hosting a show, however, and will be retiring in order to enjoy dinner with his family on a daily basis. As Stewart sits at the dinner table, his fresh take on late night television will be sorely missed by viewers everywhere.
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Sabrina Leung ‘18 is the Digital Editor majoring in International Relations-Political Science with a minor in History. She is best reached at email@example.com or @sabrinatzleung on Twitter.