I remember where I was when it happened.
I was sitting in my floor fellow’s room with my other floormates after our weekly floor tea (which actually just turned into floor cookies…also should I say floor one more time, just for fun?) At 9:14 pm, I got a text from my mom. All that was in the text was a link. From that link I discerned a few key words: “jon stewart” “leaving” “daily” “show” “quits”. Anxiously, I ran back to my room, sat on my bed, and opened up the article. Headline: Jon Stewart leaving “The Daily Show”. I was only able to read the first few sentences: “Jon Stewart will step down as host of The Daily Show, he announced during Tuesday night’s taping”.
“NO” i texted my mom, sending her a plethora of emojis, that represented my feelings of shock, confusion, and sadness. “I cannot deal…taking the night off…I can’t go on”.
My mom responded: “R u ok”.
“No” I replied. “How could I ever be okay after this. I am devastated”
My mom quickly changed the subject, clearly indicating her knowledge that I was exaggerating. But I was not exaggerating. Not in the least.
I remember the first time I watched Jon Stewart. I was 9, and sleeping over at my friend’s house. We had just finished watching (and dancing along to) Ella Enchanted, and were too hyper to go to sleep, so we decided to watch tv. An episode of the Daily Show was about halfway over, so naturally, as any average 9 year old would, we decided to watch it. Obviously I didn’t get a lot of the humour, but I did understand some of the bigger themes it was relating to as I had heard them in them news (this was during the time when new regulations were being put on liquids in airplanes). By no means did that one episode convert me into a fan, but it did spark my interest. A few years down the road I kept seeing more and more references to Jon Stewart and the Daily Show, and as I really got into understanding politics and international events, I got into appreciating what Jon Stewart had to say.
I started following Jon Stewart more closely around 2011. My favourite segments were surrounding the death of Osama bin Laden and the Anthony Weiner sexting scandal (to this day, my absolute favourite bit of Jon Stewart’s was the one on June 6th, 2011, when he enlisted a soul singer to perform a song about the entire ‘Weinergate’ scandal…I can’t even tell you how many times my mom and I replayed that segment in tears while my dad hid upstairs in his office, fearing for his life).
Jon Stewart is the undisputed king of satire news, yes, but he is also an incredibly intelligent man. His sarcastic barbs often times exposed the truths about the western world that we were all too scared to confront.
His famous feud with Bill O'Reilly left everything on the table and nothing to be desired.
One of his most famous moments was his takedown of the CNN show Crossfire (arguably one of the many bad decisions CNN has made). But above all that, Jon Stewart’s greatest talent was making political and social issues both relevant and accessible for all kinds of people. With news networks becoming increasingly more bias and partisan, it can be hard to discern fact from opinion. While Jon Stewart was yes, a bit more left-leaning and sprinkled his opinion throughout his segments, they are on the whole, nothing if not both informative as well as highly entertaining. Not to mention that his guidance led to so many of his correspondents going on to lead successful lives in the comedic world. This list includes people such as Steve Carrell, Ed Helms, Olivia Munn, Lewis Black, my personal favourite, John Oliver (who now hosts my new favourite satirical news show, Last Week Tonight), and of course, Stephen Colbert.
There are so many people who owe something to Jon Stewart. I know I certainly do. The Daily Show was one of the ways my mom and I found common ground during my prolonged period of teenage angst. He was- and still is- one of my biggest journalistic inspirations as well as role models. And although I didn’t really end up using it to get myself anywhere, I ended up getting a near-perfect writing score on my SAT with an essay I wrote about him.
You never know how chance encounters are going to change you. I don’t know if I would be any different of a person had I not watched that last half hour of The Daily Show as a 9 year old. But one thing’s for sure- that half hour sparked something in me. I don’t know if I can picture my life without the Daily Show being a part of it. Even as I write this, I feel a hole boring through my insides.
I only have one other friend who shares the same interest in The Daily Show as I do. When I texted him, he replied saying “What has the world come to?!” As I was in a state of distress, I couldn’t come up with an answer- all I could say was “I’m in distress”. If there is one wish I could be granted in this time of need, it would be for Comedy Central to make all of the Daily Show episodes accessible to watch in Canada. Otherwise, they can expect a great number of strongly worded letters coming their way.