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When people ask me where I’m from I say New Jersey. When people hear where I’m from and subsequently grimace I look them straight in the eyes and recite three names: Allen Ginsberg, Bruce Springsteen, Jon Stewart. I then proceed to go off on a tangent about how New Jersey is the greatest state in the union but that very personal (and well-founded) opinion is beside the point.
The point is Jon Stewart is awesome. And for the last 17 years he has been awesome five nights a week for 22 minutes and some change as the host of Comedy Central’s acclaimed Daily Show. Last Tuesday, Stewart announced that he would be retiring from his late night throne after his contract is up later this year.
Cue the waterworks and the question as to who will replace him. Stewart's final show day is yet undecided but that hasn't stopped the Internet from exploding with speculation regarding the identity of his successor. After tirelessly skimming online media for answers I have emerged with only one conclusion: If (we) the people have any say in the matter— his replacement will not be a white man.
For example, The Guardian’s op-ed on the issue was headlined: “Jon Stewart’s replacement should be a woman. It’s time.” The piece went on to point out that “It seems only fitting that a show originally co-created by two women, Lizz Winstead and Madeline Smithberg, should finally have a woman sitting in the anchor’s chair.” Noted.
USA Today provided us with a list of notable humorist personas that they believe deserve to be in the running to fill Stewart’s shoes. Names on this list included Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman, Tina Fey and Chris Rock or “the acid-tongued comedian who’d bring a very welcome dash of color to late night.” And by color, I can only assume that they mean pizzazz. There were also a few white men on this list.
Forbes, too, weighed in on the issue with a hard-hitting exploration of the history of late night personas and the necessity to recruit a seemingly-unknown replacement in order to rebrand the program rather than risk falling short through choosing a face who would elicit immediate expectations. Of course, they added “it’d also be nice if that new face was one of an ethnic and/or female background”
The most hard-hitting investigative reporting into the future of the Daily Show legacy, however, was the clip from Hot Tub Time Machine 2 that showed Jessica Williams hosting the beloved program in 2025. Williams is currently one of the Daily Show’s most beloved correspondents. She also happens to be both a woman and of color.
Plus she was featured on the cover of January 2015’s Wired magazine which included an editorial in which Williams states that “there's something missing in all this new new media craziness, and that is something that uses celebrity news as a way to get into a really serious analysis of our culture.”
We have no idea who the next Jon Stewart will be. Hell, chances are neither does he (but he probably does because like I said, he is amazing.) The point is: isn’t it fun to waste so much time thinking about it?