Think of the last TV personality to make you laugh.
If it isn’t Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, or Danny DeVito, then most likely the comedian you’re thinking of owes his or her success to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. The Comedy Central powerhouse and its longstanding front man, Jon Stewart, has a habit of transforming once unfamiliar comedic voices into your daily fix of funny.
Like many of his colleagues on The Daily Show, Stewart got his start in stand-up. When he took over The Daily Show in 1999, the focus of the show morphed from pop culture to politics. Always clear to position the show as a “fake news program,” Stewart became "The Most Trusted Name in Fake News." He created a persona keen to critique political figures, media organizations, and often his own show.
Stewart’s team, aka “the Best F#@king News Team Ever,” featured a cast of diverse comedic correspondents presenting hilariously exaggerated skits on current events. The show became massively popular—especially among younger audiences—and went on to win many awards. To the delight of those of us who appreciate humor, Jon Stewart and The Daily Show launched the careers of many of today’s most talented, beloved comedic voices.
If you’re an avid fan of The Office, your gratitude to Stewart’s career-building influence is twofold. Both Steve Carell and Ed Helms are veterans of The Daily Show. Carell was a Daily Show correspondent from 1999 to 2005, where he starred in the long-running segment “Even Stevphen.” From there, Carell took his distinctive humor to the Dunder Mifflin offices of Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he earned even greater acclaim on The Office. He is now one of America’s most versatile entertainers, as an actor, comedian, director, producer and writer.
Helms joined Carell on The Office after four years as a correspondent on The Daily Show. He transitioned from television to the big screen, with roles in Vacation and the Hangover trilogy. Stewart can take credit not only for the casting success of The Office but also the endless barrage of Odyssey articles published as a result.
Remember the British chap with that habit of talking until he loses breath, and who recently flooded your newsfeed with his now infamous hashtag, #MakeAmericaDrumpfAgain? John Oliver is the name and The Daily Show was his first big game. Oliver got his start in 2006 as the Senior British Correspondent to The Daily Show. When Stewart took a hiatus in 2013 to film his movie, Rosewater, Oliver guest-hosted the show, carrying the cast for eight weeks. Many predicted he would be Stewart’s successor, but in 2014 he parted ways with Comedy Central to pursue his own show on HBO, Last Week Tonight, where he provides a satirical review of the news, political happenings, and current events of the past seven days.
The Daily Show’s most recent alum to catapult into the comedic circuit is Samantha Bee, with her sharp-witted show Full Frontal. Bee was the longest standing Daily Show correspondent, serving as the show’s resident fiery feminist voice. Her solo project has garnered more than favorable reviews from Rotten Tomatoes and USA Today. Rolling Stones even went so far as to dub Bee “the true successor to Jon Stewart.”
In Stewart’s final episode of The Daily Show, the plethora of comedians he helped to launch returned to the late night stage with nothing but gratitude for their mentor.
“All of us who were lucky enough to work with you for 16 years are better at our jobs because we got to watch you do yours and we are better people for having known you," said Stephen Colbert—one of The Daily Show’s earliest correspondents and greatest success stories—to a teary eyed Stewart, "So Jon, on behalf of so many people whose lives you have changed over the past 16 years, thank you.”
And with Colbert’s thanks comes mine and many others for all of the laughs he made possible.
Stewart's comedic voice of reason will especially be missed this "newsworthy" election season. However, the many comedians to which he gave a voice are now eagerly listening to Trump soundbites, ready to do Stewart justice.
Best of luck to Stewart's successor, Noah Trevor—you have some big shoes to fill.