We'll Miss You, John Oliver: The Bittersweet Return of Jon Stewart


Last night marked the end of John Oliver’s temporary hosting stint at The Daily Show, which began at the beginning of the summer when regular host Jon Stewart went on leave to film his directorial film debut. Stewart’s return — though highly anticipated — will be a bitter-sweet one, not because we don’t want him as host. Of course, we do. He is, as David Rakoff once put it, “possibly the great wit of his generation.” That being said, it’s also impossible to deny how well John Oliver took to the position and how much we’re sincerely going to miss him, no matter how lovable Jon Stewart is.

As Oliver pointed out on last night’s show, the summer of 2013 has been particularly active as far as news stories go. There was the Royal Baby, Bob Filner, Paula Deen, the Voting Rights Act, Anthony Weiner, gay marriage, Edward Snowdon and the terrible events unfolding in Russia and Egypt. Creating comedic catharsis around such dark and unfunny circumstances is no easy task, but Oliver managed to do it in away that was both sensitive and seemingly effortless. A lot of the credit here goes to The Daily Show writing staff for being so adaptable, but that doesn’t take away from what Oliver managed to accomplish. He was — if only temporarily — expected to be the face of the program. If he failed, the show would fail. Luckily, that’s not what happened. Instead, he came away as the driving force behind some of the funniest current events coverage to appear in years.

It’s not like John Oliver is leaving us when Jon Stewart returns come September. He’ll still be a part of the show as a correspondent and writer and if that’s not enough, we can always download episodes of The Bugle, the weekly current events podcast he hosts alongside comedian Andy Zaltzman. But will it be the same? When I try to think on an analogous situation to describe how I’m feeling right now, this is the best I can come up with*: Jon Stewart is your best friend during the school year and John Oliver is the best friend you meet at sleep-away camp over the summer. He’s different, he broadens your horizons, you prick your fingers with pins and become blood sisters, then promise to stay in touch and meet up once the summer’s over. But then you go home, see your BFF Jon Stewart again, remember why you missed him and settle back into your own life. If and when Oliver actually does manage to visit, it’ll likely be pleasant, but it won’t be the same, at least not until you’re back at camp next summer, writing LYLAS on each other’s legs with Bic pens.

I’m being annoyingly complicated. What it boils down to is this: Jon-no-H, we really look forward to seeing you again. John-with-an-H, make sure to keep in touch and don’t forget to ask your dad about when it’s okay for you to come and visit during the school year.

*Yeah, I’m not terribly impressed by me, either.

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