With John Oliver, Larry Wilmore, Stephen Colbert and, starting next year, Samantha Bee, all hosting their own talk shows, Jon Stewart’s influence over the late night landscape could not be much stronger. And then, last night, Trevor Noah began his highly-anticipated tenure as host of The Daily Show, promising to carry on Stewart’s legacy by soldiering on in the “war on bullshit.”
Noah had an admirable-enough first night out, with shoes that are way too big to fill and a long way to go before he can even come close to winning over an audience so accustomed to Stewart’s calming presence in a world of chaos. In some ways, the clever analogy of Noah as an unknown Republican House member attempting to supplant the outgoing John Boehner was not adequate in summing up the enormity of the new host’s task.
Watch video below, via Comedy Central:
But, while Noah made pains to keep the format of Comedy Central’s signature show as familiar as possible during last night’s premiere — as the network stressed he would in various promos over the last few weeks — does the country really need another Jon Stewart impersonator on TV at this point?
Aside from the aforementioned former Daily Show contributors, the one late night host who has truly picked up Stewart’s mantle in the months since his retirement is Seth Meyers, who got his start anchoring Saturday Night Live’s politically-driven Weekend Update before taking over Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night on NBC early last year.
For one, Meyers’ show has become a must-visit destination for presidential candidates — not counting Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, who seem to prefer Fallon. Over the course of several months, Meyers has hosted Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Bernie Sanders and Lindsey Graham, conducting the types of in-depth interviews for which Stewart was known — with none of Fallon’s silly games or sketches. As this trend continues, it would not be surprising to see him start “throwing to the web” for exclusive online material that doesn’t fit in with his show’s rather rigid format.
More recently, Meyers shook up his show by choosing to sit down for his nightly monologue, a move that hews much closer to his past work on SNL and undoubtedly takes a page from Stewart’s opening segments on The Daily Show. The new approach has been working well for Meyers, allowing him to use photos and video clips to call out political hypocrisy and media bias in a way that feels very familiar to Stewart’s fans.
As an example, just look at Meyer’s segment on Boehner’s resignation that aired last night. Unlike Noah’s Boehner segment, which contained some lame jokes about Congressional “AIDS” and a line about Whitney Houston and crack that was less “too soon” and more “not funny,” Meyers delivered a tight recap of the conservative saga that culminated with some hilarious footage of Boehner mowing his lawn.
Watch video below, via NBC:
None of this is to say that the world doesn’t need Trevor Noah’s “global perspective” in late night as well. But now that Meyers, along with Stewart’s various disciples, are delivering the political comedy goods on a nightly or weekly basis, do we really need to see Noah’s attempt at what initially can only be a lesser version of the same?
The new Daily Show has made its desire to connect with audiences who watch the next morning on their phones abundantly clear. To do that, Noah will need to talk about issues that actually interest him, which judging by his admittedly limited knowledge of the American political landscape, certainly does not include the resignation of John Boehner.
[Photo via screengrab]
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