During Tuesday night’s episode of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” Stewart announced he will be leaving the program after more than 15 years as its host.
The news was truly a shock.
I’d always pictured Stewart sitting at his desk every weekday night, ready to entertain the masses until his body wouldn’t let him anymore. His unexpected departure might bring grief to longtime fans, but it offers up an opportunity to reflect on the impact and significance of his career.
Stewart took over “The Daily Show” from Craig Kilborn back in 1999 when there wasn’t much buzz around it. Using his background as a comedian, Stewart helped create new content and changed the direction of the show for years to come. The combination of his wit, charm and honesty drew in millions of viewers and won over critics.
As many times as he’s made us laugh, one of Stewart’s greatest accomplishments might be how he changed the way people think about news and the media.
As a parody of the evening news, “The Daily Show” often pokes fun at the biased and sometimes ridiculous nature of real news programs. Some viewers (including myself) turn to “The Daily Show” not just for the comedy but to hear the news of the world from a host and team that don’t take themselves so seriously.
There have been numerous times, though, when Stewart has shown his serious side and created memorable moments in the process. He’s debated with politicians and world leaders, stood up to egomaniacs like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, and delivered heartfelt monologues ranging from the 9/11 attacks to the recent string of deaths caused by police officers. Every time Stewart spoke from his heart, he spoke for the people.
With his run with “The Daily Show” coming to an end later this year, Stewart will leave behind his own legacy. He’s entertained millions over the years and perhaps inspired just as many. Stewart has proven to be a great influence in the craft of journalism and comedy. As the old cliche goes, all good things must come to an end.