Columns & Blogs

Jon Stewart’s shoes ably filled all over late night

42nd President of the United States Bill Clinton, left, and Trevor Noah attend The Daily Show with Trevor Noah on September 15, 2016 in New York City.
42nd President of the United States Bill Clinton, left, and Trevor Noah attend The Daily Show with Trevor Noah on September 15, 2016 in New York City. Getty Images for Comedy Central

Jon Stewart may be gone, but he’s certainly not forgotten.

The comedian may have left his position as host of “The Daily Show” last year, but his influence can be found all over late-night television. And considering how the presidential election has virtually became a three-ring circus, we need more people to call out the day’s nonsense before we go off to sleep.

Republican candidate Donald Trump has brought out the best in many a fake newsreader. The best part of “Late Night with Seth Meyers” has been the show’s daily “A Closer Look” segments, where the former “Saturday Night Live” head writer and “Weekend Update” anchor gives a thorough but still funny view of a particular news story. Most recently, he went off on a press conference where Trump falsely accused Hillary Clinton of starting the “birther” movement, of which Trump was its biggest cheerleader.

Many fans who miss Stewart have been singling out former “Daily Show” correspondent Samantha Bee for picking up Stewart’s angry-American baton and running freely with it. In the early days of her TBS show, “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” she had trouble riffing on the news without sounding smug. (She can sound like Cecily Strong’s Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party from “SNL”). But when Bee gets visibly furious about issues that should’ve been fixed by now (her finest moment so far was her addressing the issue of gun control after the Orlando massacre), she gets her point across quite beautifully.

Of course, Bee isn’t the only ex-“Daily” member killing it on the late-night satire front. Brit John Oliver continues to satirically muckrake on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.” He also was recently rewarded for an Outstanding Variety Talk Series Emmy for exposing the myriad broken systems our country has on a weekly basis. And, of course, there’s Stephen Colbert, perhaps the most famous ex-“Daily” staffer of them all, holding things down at “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” Since leaving his show “The Colbert Report” to take over the seat vacated by late-night legend David Letterman, Colbert has shed the conservative-blowhard persona he lived and perfected for years on “Colbert.” But even though he’s himself, he still remains the man when it comes to absurdly mocking politics as usual.

With all this talk of former “Daily” employees, we shouldn’t forget about the show itself, which is now hosted by South African comedian (and, yes, “Daily” alumni) Trevor Noah. Needless to say, there have been those who’ve been upset at Noah for, basically, not being Stewart. (The website Salon seems to keep tabs on how Noah continues to underwhelm – by the site’s standards.) But even though Noah doesn’t exude the make-me-wanna-holler fury Stewart used to have, as a visitor to this country, he often appears to be amusingly perplexed by what he reports on.

What Noah excels at is commenting on the racial injustice in this country. Most recently, he commented on the Terence Crutcher shooting, and the cheekiness that he usually displays was put on pause. This is how he ended his commentary: “The truth is you can’t fix racial bias overnight. You genuinely can’t. But what you can do is not think black people are crazy for feeling oppressed every time they see a video of themselves getting engaged by the police and it ends with them getting shot.” Now that “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore” (another former “Daily” man) has been canceled, it appears Noah has to pick up the slack and speak on the racism that needs to be brought into light.

These days, it’s almost like if you don’t make fun of the news with the same smart, sarcastic bluster Stewart used to, you get raked over the coals. You especially get called out if you get the opportunity to have someone in your hot seat and you don’t give him the roasting he deserves. When that goody two-shoes Jimmy Fallon had Trump on “The Tonight Show” a couple of weeks ago, he gave his guest softball questions and ended the whole sad affair by messing up The Donald’s hair. Fallon got a proper tongue-lashing on Twitter for treating Trump like one of his buddies.

Thankfully, we have a rogues’ gallery of satirists and comedians who make sure to take shots at those who are giving the country a bad name. They’re one of the reasons I’ve been getting a good night’s rest lately.