Now, that is how you say goodbye. After more than 16 years as host of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart aired his final episode on Thursday, August 6 and it was a beautiful farewell, not only to Stewart, but to his staff, his friends, his family, and his fans. To say that Stewart forever changed the lives and careers of those who worked for him, particularly The Daily Show correspondents, would be something of an understatement. The Daily Show, like Saturday Night Live, became a launching pad for comedy stardom, and all those alums who became A-Listers (including Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, and Olivia Munn) owed it to Stewart. And they all thanked him for it. Everyone, from original Daily Show host Craig Kilborn (who joked, "I knew you were gonna run this thing into the ground") to new Daily Show host Trevor Noah to Wyatt Cenac, who put his differences with the host aside to pay tribute, stopped by. Watch:
While it was all so very awesome to see the gang all there (either in studio or via satellite), the tears definitely started to flow when his old pal Colbert finally dropped in. Hilariously comparing Stewart's time on The Daily Show to that of the journey in The Lord of the Rings, Colbert made his friend giggle maniacally, but he then switched gears to go off script and give him a heartfelt, lovely goodbye speech. An emotional Stewart pleaded, "Please don't do this," but Colbert spoke on behalf of all those who worked for him, to tell him, "We learned from you, by example, how to do a show with intention, how to work with clarity, how to treat people with respect. You are infuriatingly good at your job!" In case that wasn't not enough to make you weep with joy, there was a group hug with all the correspondents at the end of the segment. Total perfection.
It was clear that Stewart meant so much to those who worked for him, but in his truest show of character, he showed us how much they meant to him. In an incredible, Goodfellas-inspired segment, Stewart said farewell to those who work behind the scenes on The Daily Show. The people whose names we usually only see scrolling through the credits, got a seriously badass thank you of their own. (And, hey, Martin Scorsese dropped in, too!)
The entire hour of the final Stewart-hosted episode of The Daily Show (gosh, that still sounds so strange, doesn't it?) was full of memorable moments and appearances. Although the segment that will probably stand the test of time was Stewart's speech on, what he called, the "Three Different Kinds of Bullshit." The always-outspoken and whip-smart host, who spent more than 16 years calling out the utter bullshit in politics and what it's done to the American people, made a final plea to viewers to continue to call it out and question the bullshit-fueled system. As he perfectly concluded, "The best defense against bullshit, is vigilance. So, if you smell something, say something."
As profound and utterly awesome as that speech was, Stewart left on a much sweeter note and used his final moments to say goodbye and thank those closest to him. He also assured viewers that the dialogue we shared with him over the past 16-plus years isn't ending, it's just taking a "pause in the conversation." We'll most certainly see you at the bar, Jon. And you know what? First round is on us. We couldn't have made it through this time without you.