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The end of an era: Jon Stewart’s departure

Writer-director Jon Stewart poses for a portrait on Oct. 24, 2014 in Chicago. (Phil Velasquez/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

Jon Stewart is leaving the “Daily Show.”

Just let that sink in for a second.

Jon Stewart, is LEAVING the “Daily Show.”

After 16 years of writing, comedy, various sketches, fanciful curses and lambasting a majority of Conservative ideology, Jon Stewart has had enough.

For the liberal fans, it’s a crippling hit. Stewart’s sort of comedic analysis is something that nightly news should be analyzing to understand why political media is the laughing stock of the up-and-coming culture.

Having taken the show from the reins of Craig Kilborn back in 1999, the “Daily Show” lacked the punch that many of us now know and love. The format was much different, focused more on the host and less on the political news-driven type of humor. Kilborn only hosted the show for two years until inner turmoil within the production staff and a job opportunity gave way to Stewart’s reign.

As a writer and executive producer Stewart shifted the show drastically to give the sort of news-driven humor a pedestal in which Stewart (typically acting as himself) and colorful personalities like Stephen Colbert (the “conservative”) could perform and thrive. And oh the material! The show seemed to practically write itself. The realm of politics providing an almost constant stream of horrors and social missteps. All which were put through the writers and comedic filters and distilled for our pleasure.

Many on campus find Stewart’s humor speaking to them in a way that nightly news couldn’t. While perhaps we shouldn’t give so much credence to the “Daily Show” as a legitimate form of news. It was the tragedy in politics, the seemingly unfair strategies of politicos and patently crazy laws that passed, which allowed the show to be seen as a beacon of honesty. A watchdog for what seemed like an era of news, designed to spin any ideology it could one way or another. Stewart and company acted like a filter to the general public, making palatable the unpalatable world of politics and global news.

Stewart’s comedy chose no allegiances. Stewart hammered politicos on topics ranging from the Affordable Care Act, a darling of liberal voters and Obama supporters, to our current White House foreign relations policy. Even Al Gore wasn’t safe from the righteous grilling Stewart gave him in regards to selling his media network to Al Jazeera.

Back in 2010, the “Daily Show” camp impressed once more with the “Rally to Restore Sanity/Fear.” Proposed by both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert as a comedy rally intended to give the overall majority, the politically neutral majority, the capacity to have a voice in politics which is increasingly overtaken by partisan psychopaths that spend most of their time and voices demonizing the opposition.

In recent memory, Stewart had taken to hammering down conservative ideologies and the flat out crazy of Fox News. Often bringing up the constant baying of their “Fair and Balanced” and “No Spin Zone” rhetoric, Stewart seemed to take personal offense to the concept that conservative news, nay, conservative politics as they stood, were beneficial to our society. He often went on comedic rants regarding the reckless, abusive, and downright resentful nature of network conservatism towards the truth.

It is with that in mind that much of his own personal rhetoric came forward. The sheer amount of ire directed at him from Republican and conservative constituents not just for what he had to say, but for the platform he said it on, and to who he spoke to, made Stewart’s position a dangerous one to up and coming politicos.

If you have any question about that, take a look at the “Crossfire” interview on CNN with Stewart. While network news might not be so willing to admit it that comedic grilling, that taste of a man conflicted about the politics in America and his eloquence and patience in deliberating his opinion regarding the effectiveness of the program, exposed all of the worst aspects of network news. “Crossfire” was shut down less than three months later.

Stewart’s legendary battle with the Fox News pundit and commentator Bill O’Reilly during the events of The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium highlighted his versatility as a linguist and debater. He advocated for issues against popular networked news as being oppressive and separatist and pandering only to the most extreme ideologies of each political faction.

And whilst every particular event that Stewart has taken part of would likely fill the pages of this edition, it’s important to visualize the man, not just in his comedic state, but a man with a platform to say and do things that affect people emotionally, politically and ideologically. Stewart’s rarely broken character has done so for the purposes to discuss things like race perception in America, cameras on police, and the general disgust people feel with the system and its inherent unfairness to the less affluent.

It is because Stewart is just a man, a man with complex political and personal ethics, that he is leaving the show. He’s recently been quoted about the general toxicity of conservative pundits. Drawing the line on the conservative war for “ideological purity, where every aspect of life becomes a two-dimensional battle for America’s Soul.”

Perhaps Stewart leaving is an effort to save what sanity he has left, and to spend a few years with the remaining youth of his children before they get to that age where they want nothing to do with him. Sixteen years is quite an awfully long time to be seen as a paragon of “newsiness” style comedy that takes nearly all of your heart and soul to do so.

To quote Stewart, “If comedy is tragedy plus time … I need more fuckng time.”

I need more time to deal with the coming loss of one of the most poignant distillers of political rage on network television. If Stewart’s right, maybe we’ll all just have a laugh about this later. For now there’s a coming void to be filled, but is there anyone with the guts and gusto to fill it? I suppose we’ll see what happens at the end of the year.

Good luck Jon.

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The end of an era: Jon Stewart’s departure