Jon Stewart has had an illustrious 14 years as the host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central. As he prepares to take a 12-week hiatus to focus on his feature film directorial debut, I wanted to put together a post on my five favorite moments from his tenure hosting the show. Without further ado, let’s roll the clips!
5. Stewart vs. Cramer: March 12, 2009
There are many people to blame for the 2008 financial crisis that triggered the worst recession since the Great Depression, and Jon Stewart fingers one of them here. He uses his interview with Jim Cramer to not only attack him but the entire CNBC network, presenting evidence that he and other financial reporters knew of the underhanded actions banks were doing, yet refused to expose them. My favorite line more or less sums up the entire video: “These guys at these companies were on a Sherman’s March through their companies, financed by our 401Ks, and all their incentives were for short-term profit. And they burned the fuckin’ house down with our money, and walked away rich as hell.” He also indicts Cramer’s show Mad Money for contributing to public’s belief that they can “get rich quick” without working. Stewart’s interviews are frequently the source of great moments on the show. I especially like his interviews with John McCain over the years, as they frequently turn into a clash of intellectual titans on each side of the political aisle. Search for them on The Daily Show’s website if you’re interested.
4. A Call to Action on Gun Control: January 8, 2013
Since Newtown, Jon Stewart has given us some gem speeches on gun control, not the least of which happened in these clips. I like this two-part speech in particular because Stewart says no idea is off the table, and then practices what he preaches, accepting ideas from all sides of the debate, such as NRA chief Wayne LaPierre and some Republican lawmakers. He infuses this two-part speech with his trademark passion, so much so that his voice gets raspier as the clips go on (his cold didn’t help matters on this either).
3. Stewart parodies Glenn Beck: several clips throughout 2009 and 2010
During Beck’s heyday as a Fox News commentator, Stewart aired several segments in which he did a spot-on impression of Beck’s alarmist style and his tendency to force evidence to fit his own off-the-wall arguments. Stewart used these parodies to skewer Beck’s on-screen persona and arguments, and produced many laughs. My favorite of these impressions is embedded above, but if you search for “Glenn Beck” on the show’s website and page through the results, you can find similar segments (the one he aired when Beck left Fox News is also particularly funny).
2. You Can’t Beat That: September 20, 2001
Not long after Stewart’s tenure at The Daily Show started, one of the greatest tragedies in American history shook the country to its core. The show, which is based in New York City, went off the air for almost two weeks before coming back. A devastated but hopeful Stewart outlined many of the things that make our country great. The most poignant moment of this clip is easily when, choking back tears, he describes how the view from his apartment is now the Statue of Liberty, newly visible now that the World Trade Center was knocked down.
1. Jon Says “Go Fuck Yourself” in Style: April 20, 2010
It takes guts to tell someone to “go fuck yourself,” but it takes real talent to do it with a gospel choir. And that’s exactly what Jon Stewart did in his response to Bernie Goldberg’s comments on The O’Reilly Factor. Goldberg was responding to a clip in which Stewart had criticized Fox News for complaining about the media’s generalizing about members of the Tea Party, then turning around and done the very same thing to liberals. Stewart, after attacking Goldberg for “criticizing me for not living up to your tagline,” launches into a comedic parade of preacher-style jokes that is still my favorite Daily Show moment of all time.