TV - The Daily Show

The Daily Show

A reflection on Jon Stewart and The Daily Show, which ended this week. Nate McKenzie Your moment is in...

His Moment of Zen; Our Era of Enlightenment

I won't pretend I'm a The Daily Show aficionado or a Jon Stewart acolyte. I am quite sure there are other more devoted souls who spent every evening eagerly soaking up the wit and charm of Stewart's self-effacing "fake news" shtick.

If I have to be a hardcore fan, however, to speak on his impact to the world around me then you might need to re-evaluate your uber-liberal tendencies, you damn hipster. I speak for myself, and only myself; and, of course, anyone else who shares my viewpoints.

Stewart's "Bullshit" monologue near the end of the last episode has very few contenders for the throne of final sign-offs. For almost seventeen years, Jon Stewart moulded The Daily Show into an amalgam of reality television, nightly news, caustic barbs, and precisely threaded sarcasm. As "news" amongst the traditional fair became a caricature of itself, resembling translucent self-congratulatory back-patting that bordered on partisan hand-job orgies, The Daily Show became the leader in actual news. Only those tight lipped closed-minded types sitting silently watching debates and slowly nodding would dismiss the importance of impartial representation giving voice to either side that said anything remotely logical.

Sentience, over the years, has become a rare commodity.

Jon Stewart not only filled the void of humanitarian disgust in regards to the "system" but did so with enough self-aware humility as to become the voice of a generation - a generation with no age or social restrictions, only guidelines that require a willingness to heed logical thought processes that lead to progress. Stymied, is this particular group of multi-generational freedom fighters, and Jon Stewart, for over a decade and a half, was a transcendent figure in that evolution of thought.

My best friend despised Jon Stewart and The Daily Show fifteen years ago. The product of a staunch republican household, he railed against the lucidity of a show that lambasted the conservatives and deified the liberal agenda proprietors. As the show evolved, and the world progressed, and we grew older and wiser, my friend began to appreciate the bipartisanship of Jon Stewart. Yes, Stewart is a liberal, a Dem, a hippie-loving, weed-smoking, Jewish, hugger of gays, supporter of women's lib, and all things that set fire to the hair and loins of conservative pundits; but his progressive thinking never got in the way of wanting to be a beacon for those that couldn't find a voice, those that cherish reason over tradition, that simply want what is best for all of us and not for a small portion of us. That includes my friend, who is now my personal go-to for all things politically related.

Jon Stewart's greatest asset was highlighting the hypocrisy of anyone who perpetuated their own agenda. Religion, politics, social issues, sports figures, those in the entertainment industry - no one was immune. He hit hard and precise and those that took exception with his jabs were those most guilty of whatever he accused them of.

For a man who was lucky enough to share so many words with the world, Jon Stewart used few words himself to convey his heartfelt appreciation for what his time at The Daily Show meant to him in his final appearance as the host. Instead, the man who became a voice for so many relied on the unifying voice of another legend, a send-off that Stewart referred to as "My moment of Zen", The Boss himself: Bruce Springsteen. And deservedly so.

In his sign-off, Stewart opined that someone he respected once referred to his act as an extended conversation with the audience. In my experience, the utility of a conversation is found in learning something new from one with whom you are sharing dialogue. Jon Stewart's legacy is that he made politics important to grunge-eara Gen-Xers, showed Cons the importance of laughing at themselves, taught Libs to see both sides, and... he helped a nation to heal after 9/11 with his bearing of personal pain and altruistic sincerity.

Jon Stewart, in all his boisterous, comedic braggadocio, was at his core and in our hearts, our seventeen-year moment of Zen.

Image - Comedy Central.