The Legacy of Jon Stewart (a love note)

By Grace Masback

WANT Original Content

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My family has developed an embarrassing habit. Four days a week, we drag ourselves to the dinner table exhausted from a day of work, school, and extra-curricular activities. After quick updates about our day and a catch-up on schedules, I hit “play” and the evening’s entertainment interlude begins.

*Cue the music* “Da da du da du, from Comedy Central’s World news headquarters in New York this is the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” *Cue more music and applause* And, for twenty glorious minutes at the end of the day we enjoy the wonderfully fake and hilariously funny news provided by America’s most trusted correspondent (per a Time magazine poll), Jon Stewart. So, you can imagine how I felt when I heard the terrible announcement that after 19 years as the anchorman of the Daily Show Jon Stewart would be leaving the show later this year. Not to be overly melodramatic, but I was almost brought to tears and I wondered if my world, at least the snarky side of my news acquisition world, was over.

I’ve loved the Daily Show since I was little. My parents, steadfast liberals, indoctrinated me from a young age and I vividly remember staying up late to watch the 2004 election results with a John Kerry button pinned to my pajamas. I was first introduced to the Daily Show in 4th grade during the 2008 presidential election campaign. Back then, I didn’t really understand all that many of the jokes, but I appreciated the fact that my dad laughed a lot when we watched it. Looking back on it, I’m shocked that I was even allowed to watch it at all given the preponderance of bleeped out expletives and ubiquitous scatological references. Nevertheless, the Daily Show was my first introduction to funny, truth-based, hard-hitting journalism, and I loved every minute of it.

The wonderful thing about the comedy on the Daily Show is its authenticity. Jon’s skillful dissection of the foibles and quotidian idiocy of many right wing politicians, the mainstream media, and even members of the Democratic party are my absolute favorite form of entertainment. He balances hilarious jabs (think his Mitch McConnell as a turtle voice) with fact-based news (Demacolypse 2016) and true emotion about the plight of veterans. When Mr. Stewart believes in a cause, or notices a wrong done by humanity, he never hesitates to strike a more serious tone and call out the perpetrators. His tear-filled tribute to 9-11 victims and those who toiled tirelessly at the site in the attack’s aftermath or recent a episode expressing his support for the courageous employees of Charlie Hebdo represent a more dimensional side of Mr. Stewart that makes his comedy even more relatable and appealing.

This past Thursday in sophomore history class, the teacher (also a lover of Mr. Stewart) played Daily Show re-runs, including an episode in which Jon makes fun of a man who attacked his employees with a lizard (he is no longer allowed within 50 feet of reptiles). As I looked around the room, I saw fist pounding, chair rocking, and tears as nearly everyone in the class doubled over with laughter. Though they would typically turn up their noses at a news or political show, it appears that the best way to unite a roomful of angst-ridden teens is a Daily Show episode.

Home from school with strep throat in 5th grade, I remember binge-watching 14 straight episodes of the Daily Show. In 7th grade, we had to do a presentation on a famous celebrity for Spanish class. I chose Jon Stewart and described him as “muy divertido.” In 8th grade, I gave my dad Jon Stewart’s book for Christmas as an excuse to read it myself. Now a 10th grader, I admit that I have a slight crush on Mr. Stewart, though the fact that he is happily married with two kids has caused me to turn my romantic interests elsewhere.

We were in New York visiting family last Thanksgiving and I begged my parents to get me a fake ID so I could watch a live taping of the Daily Show (you have to be 18 to attend). Though my dad said “yes,” reminiscing about getting a fake ID in Times Square back in the day, my mom vetoed the plan.

Last week the Daily Show announced that Trevor Noah would serve as Jon Stewart’s replacement. It remains to be seen if he can fill the enormous shoes, but for the time being, my quest to see the show and meet my hero takes on greater urgency. So, I’m lobbying my mom, plotting how to get the fake ID in Portland, Oregon, and saving money for the plane ticket to New York City. With a little luck, my dream may come true.

Photo Credit: Rachel Maddow

About Grace Masback

Grace Masback, 17, aspires to give voice to the voiceless and holds the modest ambition of becoming the voice of Gen Z. Frustrated by the dearth of impactful platforms for teen journalists, she founded WANT, a news, sports, and entertainment website that aggregates the best in high school journalism from school newspapers and teen bloggers around the world (

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