When I was living in Alexandria, Egypt back in 2008, I was very fortunate that my cable TV allowed me to watch some of my favourite shows, in English. Back then, every night at 10pm, one of the channels would show The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I thought to myself ‘hey, might as well check this out,’ and, as it turned out, I loved it. I seem to recall one particular episode being about Barack Obama and how the American people had to wait until January before he could become POTUS. He compared waiting for Obama to a kid waiting to open up one of his presents at Christmas. The present is shaped liked a remote controlled race car, but it says ‘do not open until Xmas,’ and Steward bemoaned the fact the country had to put up with George Bush for a little longer.
It was a brilliant, funny segment that was very well scripted and very well executed. Seven years on, and the Daily Show still makes me laugh. It’s still very well scripted and, as for execution, those guys never miss a beat.
I remember reading a statement on Twitter from the Comedy Central page earlier this year, and it just didn’t make sense. It said something like, ‘Jon will remain on the show until the end of year.’ And then I thought ‘oh no, Jon Stewart is going away to do another film for three months.’ Last time he did that he made Rosewater, which still hasn’t been released in the UK (much to my annoyance). Then I did a bit of digging on Twitter, and came across the words I have been dreading; ‘Jon Stewart to leave The Daily Show.’ I was speechless. I couldn’t believe it. First, Stephen Colbert leaves and now Jon Stewart. It was as if the TV bosses of Comedy Central and Viacom had conspired to take my favourite shows off the air, on purpose.
A man who spoke for everyone
The thing that made Jon Stewart and The Daily Show so extraordinary was not the fact he made millions upon millions of people laugh, but that he taught millions upon millions of people. He made people aware of breaking news and what was happening in the world, and he was big enough and brave enough to question the people at the very top. He also did, and continues to do, an amazing job taking down Fox News. Every time they say something offensive and insulting, Jon Stewart was on hand to put them in their place. And boy, has the world needed that.
To Muslims in the West like myself, it’s been no secret that, since 9/11, we are persona non grata. However, Jon Stewart, time and time again has stuck up for us. While I can’t speak for everyone, I know that I’m grateful for it. Without Jon Stewart, more young people would have been inclined to believe what they see and hear about Muslims in general. He could never have changed public opinion on his own, but his voice was heard and appreciated.
When Jon Stewart finally walks away, I have decided not to be sad. I will simply be glad that he was on my box, and that The Daily Show will continue to go on. A lot of names have been mentioned in the running for the slot, and I have high hopes that the role will go to Samantha Bee. Bee already works on the show as one of the many hilarious correspondents, and it’s easy to envisage her doing a great job as a presenter. While you can’t replace Jon Stewart, the new presenter, (hopefully Bee) is sure to have their own special spin on things.
So, thank you, Jon Stewart for creating a moment of zen for people everywhere, every night. You will be missed.