Who Is ‘The Problem With Jon Stewart’ For?

The issue with Jon Stewart’s new present, The Problem with Jon Stewart, just isn’t that it’s a money seize—however its opening credit preempt that notion anyway with a joke.

In a visible brainstorm of the present’s title, we observe more and more cheeky strategies like “The Weekly…” “Month-to-month…” and “Annual…” Phrases like “program” and “product” intertwine, alongside concepts like The Money Seize with Jon Stewart. TK OR WHATEVER IT IS. Solely six years have handed since Stewart stepped down from his genre-shifting Every day Present run, but it surely feels for much longer. Maybe that’s why it seems, from his new present’s first two episodes, as if Stewart continues to be determining how he and his new present wish to contribute to the brand new dialog.

Stewart’s closing episode on Comedy Central aired simply months after David Letterman left his CBS creation, Late Present. That 12 months marked the official change of the late-night guard, as Jimmy Fallon took over The Tonight Present from Jay Leno in 2014 together with his former SNL colleague Seth Meyers to observe as his Late Night time alternative. Craig Ferguson had stepped down as Late Late Present host in December, and James Corden and Stephen Colbert had already been named his and Letterman’s successors. Additionally debuting and on the horizon: Final Week Tonight with John Oliver, The Nightly Present with Larry Wilmore, and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.

It was a giant second, and Letterman and Stewart’s exits, particularly, had been main productions. (Bear in mind Foo Fighters’ performance of “Everlong” during Letterman’s final episode? I’m getting misty simply interested by it!) However in a twist befitting this period wherein nothing is ever actually over, Letterman returned to “late night time” only a couple years later with My Next Guest Needs No Introduction on Netflix in 2018. It’s little shock that Stewart would come again as effectively, however it’s a little bit of a jolt to see him accomplish that on Apple TV+.

“You don’t even know find out how to get Apple TV, do you?” Stewart jokes on the finish of his Downside premiere. “You don’t even know! It’s only a subscription service; you hit the Apple factor, it says a factor, you click on off ‘I agree’—don’t learn it! Simply say you agree.”

There’s a self-conscious streak to The Downside with Jon Stewart, however Stewart himself doesn’t essentially appear insecure. Within the first two episodes he riffs simply together with his viewers and, in a nod to his ongoing informal streak throughout visitor appearances on Colbert’s Late Present, sports activities a navy blue bomber jacket. He appears slightly subdued in comparison with his previous self however grows most animated when he addresses veterans’ poor well being care—a problem that dovetails together with his campaign on behalf of 9/11 first responders. The premiere episode facilities on “Struggle” (and the way our authorities fortunately sends individuals to struggle on our behalf earlier than leaving them out to dry), whereas the second explores “Freedom.”

Stewart has largely remained off-screen since he parted methods with Comedy Central, working most prominently on first responder advocacy and an extremely charming animal sanctuary along with numerous publicity appearances for tasks like his 2020 movie Irresistible. (It was the second movie he’s directed after his outstanding Rosewater adaptation in 2014.) A manufacturing take care of HBO begat plans for a topical animated collection that finally acquired scrapped. Sources instructed The Hollywood Reporter that the premium cabler additionally needed The Downside with Jon Stewart however that Apple received out as an alternative.

If you’ve modified political satire for a whole technology and picked up 22 Emmy awards within the course of, one imagines it will definitely turns into clear you don’t have anything left to show. Stewart responds to his viewers’s silence on the finish of a punchline early on in his premiere with unbothered self-deprecation: “I suppose that solutions whether or not the present might be humorous or not.”

“Stewart responds to his viewers’s silence on the finish of a punchline early on in his premiere with unbothered self-deprecation: “I suppose that solutions whether or not the present might be humorous or not.””

Nonetheless, as he settles again into his previous job surrounded by former friends who now command their very own reveals (Oliver, Colbert, Bee) Stewart does have some mojo to regain. Irresistible was smug in all of the methods Stewart’s harshest critics say he’s—each a comedic disappointment and a political miscalculation. And whereas Oliver has established a model of his personal other than Stewart’s, the sentiment that he has assumed the Every day Present host’s previous mantle persists.

After which there’s that little cloud hanging over the present’s title. In April, former Every day Present correspondent Wyatt Cenac shared a tweet that stated Stewart’s new present is “actually simply rebooting” Cenac’s previous HBO present, Downside Areas with Wyatt Cenac—which ran for 2 seasons. Cenac included a clip from his previous present wherein he says, “If there’s one factor I’ve discovered, if you need any person to take a Black man saying one thing significant on TV critically, you really want to have a white man say principally the identical factor proper after.”

The meat between Cenac and Stewart goes again to The Every day Present, the place Cenac has stated the pair’s relationship grew more and more fraught through the years. In 2015, as Comedy Central braced for Stewart’s exit, Cenac told Marc Maron that Stewart as soon as instructed him to “fuck off” for saying that Stewart’s Herman Cain impression—which had caught warmth from Fox Information—reminded him of Tim Moore’s Kingfish character from Amos ‘n’ Andy.


Jon Stewart attends a press convention by members of the U.S. Home unveiling the Honoring our Promise to Tackle Complete Toxics Act of 2021’s laws, coping with the results brought on by publicity to poisonous substances throughout navy service by veterans, exterior the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Might 26, 2021.

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty

Cenac showed up for the Daily Show correspondents reunion throughout Stewart’s closing episode, but it surely seems he nonetheless doesn’t recognize the obvious similarities between Stewart’s idea and his personal. As shut because the titles could be, nevertheless, the present itself feels distinct.

Stewart does, like Cenac did in his second season, discover one drawback from numerous vantage factors per episode. He largely stays relegated to his studio within the first episodes and repeatedly cuts to behind-the-scenes conversations together with his writers and producers throughout every episode.

However he additionally levels his first on-camera, on-location interview with Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough—and performs the interview very straight. As Stewart presses the secretary with questions he inevitably evades, peppering within the occasional platitude about how he “doesn’t doubt” McDonough’s empathy, it’s laborious to discern why audiences would crave such a factor from him particularly. There are flashes of The Every day Present conviction right here, however it’ll take time—and some extra episodes—for Stewart to outline what this subsequent act seems to be like, and what units it other than an more and more crowded pack. | Who Is ‘The Downside With Jon Stewart’ For?


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