Returning to The Daily Show for the first time since 2015, political satirist emeritus Jon Stewart returned to Comedy Central today to the show that made him a star. And for a lengthy, 20-minute opening segment, Stewart did what he does best, host The Daily Show.
Stewart, looking slightly grayer than he did when he signed off nearly a decade ago, began by discussing Taylor Swift-based Super Bowl conspiracy theories spinning out of the American right before launching into Indecision 2024, which he’ll host every Monday for at least the next nine months. His boisterous, anxiety-driven frustration returns The Daily Show to a more aggressive air, a louder and more emotional experience than Trevor Noah’s cool, if detached, delivery. But in Stewart’s hand, The Daily Show is a full-throated affair, complete with scribbles on his script notes and rational, even-keeled summation.
The move to bring Stewart back was inevitable as Comedy Central stepped on one landmine after another in their search for a new host to replace Trevor Noah following his 2022 exit. Likewise, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect for the network or Stewart, who was recently out of the job following the sudden cancelation of Apple TV+’s The Problem With Jon Stewart. However, many speculated that Stewart lost that gig over Apple’s refusal to air a segment on China and A.I., which Stewart seemingly called out at the top of the show tonight. Stewart now says, “[Apple] didn’t want me to say things that might get me in trouble.” Thankfully, you can say anything on Comedy Central (they famously let Cartman say whatever he wants).
It’s hard not to clock the irony of another American presidential election between the same septuagenarians as last time, with commentary by the guy who spent the first 15 years of the century yelling about the various states of America’s decline. Even more ironically, across the last eight years of jokes about Donald Trump, we haven’t had a lot of Stewart—aside from him telling people that he wouldn’t be so bad. Stewart doesn’t seem to have lost a step as far as hosting a comedy news program goes, bringing back the energy and excitement that’s been absent from the show of late and wrapping all of the news into a bite-sized morsel that brings some amount of catharsis in these maddening times.
And, not for nothing, “Indecision 2024: Antiques Roadshow” is an A+ joke.