“It’s the end of an era.”
I usually hate that hyperbolic phrase, which is most often used to indicate distress that, say, McDonald’s will no longer be serving its vintage French Fry-flavored milkshake. And yet as Jon Stewart stepped down from his post last night as host of “The Daily Show,” I could not help but feel it: it’s the end of an era. And even my favorite milkshake can’t console me, because it was discontinued.
It’s difficult to say how much “The Daily Show” has meant to me in the last five years that I’ve been watching it. At the end of what has usually been a long and difficult day, Jon Stewart has consistently provided me with laughter and joy so that I can go to bed hopeful and start again tomorrow. That on its own has been a monumental gift that I have treasured dearly.
But my gratitude goes far beyond that. Jon Stewart has been a primary catalyst to bring me out of my previous apathy to current events, leading me not just to care deeply about the issues affecting our country and our planet, but also to believe that things can change for the better –and to take on the mantel myself as a political activist. Jon Stewart helped teach me that sure, you can win an argument by preaching moral and political truths; but if you can make people laugh while doing it, you can truly engage people’s hearts and minds. I am a better writer, a better performer, a better advocate, and a better and happier person because of Jon Stewart.
Jon Stewart has brought a lot of people together; when two Daily Show enthusiasts meet, we have immediate ground for potentially hours of conversation. The show also brings people who are already close even closer. My parents and I always watch the daily show, and whether or not I am home to watch it with them, it still brings us together as a family, to laugh together and to think together. Although I’m sad that he is leaving, I cannot blame Jon for wanting to experience that same sense of togetherness with his own family more than he is currently able to do under the rigorous schedule of not just a daily show, but the Daily Show.
I will miss Jon very much, but I know that even though he has a unique place in the hearts of millions, his first loyalty is and should be to his own life and family. I am so grateful for every moment he has been a part of my life. And I’m pretty sure he’ll be popping up to say hello every so often – as he said in last night’s final taping, this isn’t goodbye; it’s a pause in the conversation. It may be a bit of an awkward pause, with so much fodder just sitting there for satirical taking – but it’s not forever.
Thank you, Jon Stewart – go have fun. You’ve earned it.