Jon Stewart retook his rightful place behind The Daily Show desk on Monday night, returning to the Comedy Central’s late-night news show for the first time in nine years.
“Now where was I? I’m excited to be back,” Stewart said to begin his opening monologue. “Why am I back, you may be asking yourselves. It’s a very reasonable question. I have committed a lot of crimes and from what I understand, talk show hosts are granted immunity. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but take it up with the founders.”
After making a few jokes about the Super Bowl and the right’s obsession with Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce, Stewart launched into the show’s coverage of the 2024 presidential election — or, as he dubbed it, “Indecision 2024: Electile Disfunction.”
Stewart hammered Joe Biden and Donald Trump equally as he questioned both candidate’s mental acuity. “These two candidates, they are both similarly challenged. And it is not crazy to think that the oldest people in the history of the country to ever run for president might have some of these challenges,” he said. “We’re not suggesting neither man is vibrant, productive or even capable. But they’re both stretching the limits of being able to handle the toughest job in the world. What’s crazy is thinking that we’re the ones as voters who must silence concerns and criticisms. It is the candidates job to assuage concerns.”
Even if this is the presidential rematch that “nobody wanted,” Stewart concluded his monologue by advising his audience not to lose sight of the days leading up to, and following, election day. “If your guy loses, bad things might happen, but the country is not over. And if your guy wins, the country is in no way saved,” he said. “I’ve learned one thing over these last nine years: the work of making this world resemble one you’d prefer to live in is a lunch pale f*cking job, day in and day out, where thousands of anonymous, smart, and dedicated people bang on closed doors and pick up those who have fallen and grind away on issues until they get a positive result, and even then, they have to stay on to make sure that result holds. So the good news is, I’m not saying you don’t have to worry who wins the election, you have to worry about every day before it and every day after — forever.”
After a 16-year stint as host of The Daily Show, Stewart initially stepped down in 2015. He was replaced by Trevor Noah, who hosted the show for eight seasons before announcing his departure in 2022. Comedy Central has struggled to find a replacement for Noah; Hasan Minhaj was reportedly the network’s choice, but those plans changed after it was revealed that Minhaj had embellished some of the stories of discrimination in his standup act.
Fortunately for Comedy Central, Stewart came to the rescue, agreeing to host new episodes of The Daily Show through the election. The rest of each week’s episodes will be hosted by Daily Show correspondents, including Jordan Klepper, Desi Lydic, Ronny Chieng, Michael Kosta, and Dulcé Sloan, with Stewart serving as an executive producer.
In an interview with CBS Mornings ahead of Monday’s episode, Stewart discussed his decision to return to The Daily Show. “I very much wanted to have some place to unload thoughts as we get into this election season,” Stewart explained. “I’m hoping to have a catharsis and a way to comment on things and a way to express them that hopefully people will enjoy.”