Jon Stewart Signs Off From ‘Daily Show’ With Wit and Sincerity
After 16 years of taking satirical aim at the hypocrisy of politics and the fatuousness of the news media, Jon Stewart said goodbye to “The Daily Show” on Thursday evening with a farewell broadcast that mixed wry parting shots with earnest displays of emotion and with a passionate speech urging his audience not to accept falsehoods and misinformation in their lives.
Mr. Stewart, 52, who has presided over this Comedy Central news-parody show since 1999, concluded his final episode with a spirited sermon against what he euphemistically described as “social-contract fertilizer.” (He also used a familiar and much stronger epithet.)
Blatant mendacity, Mr. Stewart said, has become ubiquitous and pernicious. “Whenever something’s been titled Freedom Family Fairness Health America, take a good long sniff,” he said.
The only way to combat the relentless intrusions of dishonest people, Mr. Stewart said, was through vigilance. “Their work is easily detected, and looking for it is kind of a pleasant way to pass the time,” he said.
“So if you smell something, say something,” Mr. Stewart added.
And then, for good measure, there was a performance by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.
The broadcast began with what appeared to be a traditional opening act in which Mr. Stewart poked fun at a current event — in this case, the Republican presidential debates in Cleveland. But this was simply a setup for the many on-air correspondents and contributors who have passed through “The Daily Show” during Mr. Stewart’s time on the show to pay their final tributes.
Among the celebrated alumni who gave their testimonials, Steve Carell, who went on to become the star of NBC’s “The Office” and films like “Foxcatcher,” joked that he had never really left “The Daily Show.”
“Becoming an international superstar is just something I did while waiting for my next assignment,” Mr. Carell said.
Larry Wilmore, who now hosts his own Comedy Central late-night series, “The Nightly Show,” groused that his program had been pre-empted this evening. “Black shows matter, Jon,” he said to Mr. Stewart.
There were further cameos from John Oliver, Kristen Schaal and Samantha Bee, as well as Mr. Stewart’s “Daily Show” successor, Trevor Noah, who wandered onto the set with a tape measure. (“Could you give me like 20 more minutes?” Mr. Stewart asked him.)
In a taped montage, several of Mr. Stewart’s past targets of ridicule, including Chris Christie, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bill O’Reilly and John Kerry, fired back good-natured ripostes at him. “So long, jackass,” John McCain declared at the end of the segment.
And of course there was a visit from Stephen Colbert, the former “Daily Show” correspondent and star of Comedy Central’s “Colbert Report,” who is about to succeed David Letterman as the host of CBS’s “Late Show.”