Can The Daily Show with Jon Stewart survive even without Jon Stewart?
After this summer’s Great Oliver Experiment, it’s safe to answer that question with a “yes.” Sure, it took a few weeks for John Oliver to get comfortable in the anchor’s chair. Once he did, though, the Brit proved that he’s got enough affable charm to ably fill Stewart’s formidable shoes – as well as a winning, self-deprecating attitude that automatically made viewers want to root for his success.
Throughout the summer, Oliver worked hard to keep reminding us that his hosting stint would only be temporary. (See, for example, the lies about Stewart’s whereabouts that opened every single Oliver episode; he never let the audience forget that he was just filling in for the show’s real host.) But if there’s any justice, Oliver won’t have to say a second stringer for long. Over the past three months, he demonstrated that he’s ready and able to carry his own show – or to take over for Stewart permanently if and when the longtime Daily Show host decides to step down from the perch he’s held for the past 14 years.
It helped, of course, that Oliver happened to luck into a summer filled with juicy stories including the search for Edward Snowden, Paula Deen’s racism snafu, and the United Kingdom’s royal baby. When you see each of them mentioned in quick succession, it’s kind of hard to believe that just three months could hold this much ridiculosity:
But none of those stories can compare to the, er, revealing saga of one Anthony Weiner, a.k.a. Carlos Danger. (Obligatory Mystikal reference.) Given Jon Stewart’s own history with Weiner, it’s possible that The Daily Show’s permanent host wouldn’t have been willing to really sink his teeth into his old pal once this summer’s latest scandal broke. Lucky for us, Oliver had no such conflicts of interest – leaving him free to mock New York’s mayoral candidate relentlessly.
In the end, Oliver concluded his run as host by thanking all of his colleagues and promising viewers that the “real Jon” would be back in September. While I’ll be happy to have Stewart back, though, part of me wishes that Comedy Central would hurry up and give Oliver a showcase a little more prominent than John Oliver’s New York Stand-Up Show – and I suspect I’m not alone.
So tell me: Will you miss seeing Oliver at the helm of The Daily Show? And are you, like me, hoping that he’ll get another starring TV gig soon?