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A Fan's Farewell to Jon Stewart

There will be others after Stewart, just like there have been others during Stewart. But it's not enough to be an activist, or to be annoying, or to be loud, or to just only occasionally hit the nail on the head, or whatever. Stewart was often left of someone on the right, often right of someone on the left.
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It's not enough to say that Jon Stewart was a pioneer -- that he completely invented a new form of comedy, of political satire behind a mock TV news desk, that he changed not only how politicians answered questions and handled the media, but how the media asked questions and handled their subjects, that his time at the head of The Daily Show is a legitimate B.C. and A.D. thing -- can anyone even remember when he wasn't on your TV, or your newsfeed and does it feel like you were even conscious before he arrived?

He was a pioneer, of course. All the rest of that stuff above is true, too.

But there have always been snarky people. There has always been sarcasm. But it hasn't always been quality.

There will be others after Stewart, just like there have been others during Stewart. But it's not enough to be an activist, or to be annoying, or to be loud, or to just only occasionally hit the nail on the head, or whatever. Stewart was often left of someone on the right, often right of someone on the left. There wasn't a line with him and he seemed to sort of hate the wake his speed boat created -- like how Kerouac must have rolled his eyes at Beatniks and hippies, Stewart bristled whenever someone asked him if he was a journalist, if he should be held accountable for his jokes, as if they were statements.

He was such a force, he wasn't just a hero to his audience. He was also something to copy and paste -- the first, only original who breeds a thousand hacks.

That's why today's news is, if you're a fan, and even if you weren't, a real tragedy. Nobody will be able to hold everyone's feet to the fire at once. Nobody will be able to legitimately scare the shit out of every talking head, every soundbite politician, everyone in authority, not to the point that they'll have to reconsider everything they say before they say it, just in case it lands them in Stewart's crosshairs.

And if they are able to bring someone on and question them to death -- like Piers Morgan tried and failed to do with the gun issue, like John Oliver is still learning how to do but without guests, like Don Lemon tries with everyone and anyone, regardless of whether it's necessary -- all they'll really do is remind you of how great Stewart was, and probably could always still be.

Too many people just try to fill the space in the air, that hour between when their show starts and their show ends. Guests are brought on to clog the gaps; commentary is forced and fake. Opinions don't matter a whole lot, because everyone's got one and you probably already know what theirs is. Anchors -- local and national -- for some reason still end their shows with useless, horrible, terrible banter. They probably needed to once, back when America was wondering what Walter Cronkite really thought -- but now we know what everyone thinks, because they offer it up all the time, and the banter continues... not because the audience gives a shit about what (Insert Name Here) did last weekend, but because it's just accepted now.

The news was necessary once, back when we needed it to tell us something we didn't already know. And we still need it -- but we need it to be told with awareness, like the anchor knows we're as smart as he is. The audience isn't the audience anymore, not in a theatrical sense. The audience used to watch to validate the anchor -- now, anchors are wheeled out to validate us.

We already know the lede, the headline. You're going to have to tell us something new, in a different way, every night for 60 minutes. Stewart figured this out five years before he needed to, and then continued it for over a decade later. And he held our attention the entire time, constantly taking the temperature, shaking the thermometer, and starting again.

He didn't consider himself a newsman, at least not over being a comedian. But still, he accomplished everything a newsman -- and newswoman -- could hope to. He was the most trusted man in America.

Today, a whole lot of people breathed a sigh of relief. Because their job got easier without Jon Stewart.

I think that's the ultimate compliment.

*This was originally published on White Cover Magazine...


Sarah Silverman
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Politically intelligent, hilariously funny and a woman who can snag the coveted men 18-49 demographic, Silverman would make an excellent choice as host.
Jason Jones and Samantha Bee
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Not only are they two of the best correspondents on "The Daily Show," real-life married couple Jason Jones and Samantha Bee would make a great hosting team. It would be like having our very own Ron Burgundy and Veronica Corningstone from "Anchorman," just without all the teleprompter pranks (or, maybe not).
Aisha Tyler
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In addition to being one hilarious stand-up comic, the voice of Lana on "Archer" and a host on "The Talk" as well as "Whose Line Is It Anyway," Tyler's resume more than qualifies her to host a late night show. She was also a fan-favorite to replace Craig Ferguson on "The Late Late Show," but that spot went to James Cordon.
Aasif Mandvi
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Mandvi's "Daily Show" segments about the Middle East and other parts of the world make him a great candidate for satirizing worldwide issues. After all, he has already been dubbed the "Senior Foreign-Looking Correspondent" once or twice.
Jessica Williams
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At just 25 years old, Williams has made her mark on "The Daily Show" for her excellent segments about catcalling, inter-political dating, and an unforgettable piece on the military's asinine hair regulations called "Operation Black Hair."
Brian Williams
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What better way to recover from making a mockery of the news than becoming a professional news mocker? Just kidding (sorta).
Wanda Sykes
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Sykes is one of the greatest stand-up comics we have and would bring a completely different perspective to "The Daily Show." She couldn't have less in common with Jon Stewart, and after 15 years maybe that's a good thing?
Al Madrigal
Fred Lee via Getty Images
Also a stand-up comedian turned "Daily Show" correspondent, Madrigal's pieces on immigration are some of the show's best. He also recently made a special for Fusion about being half Latino in America that has a "Daily Show" vibe with its poignancy mixed with humor.
Cameron Esposito
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The only person who could beat Conan at having a signature hairstyle, Esposito is one of the funniest stand-up comics working today. Her fierce bits about gender (including the realest period joke of all time) and intelligent blogs would make her a prime candidate for news satire and a refreshing change for late night.
John Hodgman
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If we're going to go the white guy route, Hodgman is not only a great "Daily Show" correspondent, but a dapper fellow who loves mocking rich people and politics. Hey, Patton Oswalt wouldn't be too bad either...
Colin Quinn
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There's also Quinn who, as a "Weekend Update" correspondent on "Saturday Night Live," proved that he can handle a desk job. He has the same ranting quality that people expect from Jon Stewart, isn't afraid to cross the line and would definitely RT every trolling comment thrown his way.
W. Kamau Bell
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As host of FX's "Totally Biased," Bell proved that late night TV can be a lot edgier than it currently is.
Tina Fey and/or Amy Poehler
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Okay, this is obviously a long shot. But wouldn't that be amazing?
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