Jon Stewart Returns in New Apple TV+ show


Jon Stewart addressing his audience at The Problem with Jon Stewart

Daniel Kochupura, Co-Editor-in-Chief

The Mount Rushmore of modern political satirists is carved from the rock Jon Stewart. Figures who made a name for themselves under his Daily Show—Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Hasan Minhaj, Jordan Klepper, Samantha Bee—have found success by emulating Stewart’s style and modifying it ever so slightly to make their own mark. The entire landscape is populated by those who trained under Stewart, and it fuels his legend as an untouchable model of what the genre should be.


With everything The Daily Show with Jon Stewart was, with the host’s departure just as Trumpism began to infect the GOP, with Stewart’s lack of public appearances in the past four years, there has been a lot riding on his new show. The Problem with Jon Stewart was different from his old gig, but in many ways, there was reason to expect he would have no trouble with it. The Daily Show was nightly; The Problem would drop every two weeks. The Daily Show had tackled the topics of the night; The Problem would go in-depth on a single issue. The Daily Show had gained traction in the early years of the George W. Bush’s administration; The Problem saw an establishment Democrat settle into the presidency. But the comedians who left the Daily Show had fared well enough under similar circumstances, and if there was anyone who could find absurdity in this new time, it was Stewart.


On September 30, 2021, the first episode of The Problem with Jon Stewart comes out. There have been ads. There have been trailers. There has even been a long-form interview with Variety. Everything is there. It’s Stewart. He’s coming back. So he is doing veterans in the first episode? He’ll knock it out of the park. The whole industry must be nervous. They should just quit now. No one’s going to stick around much longer now that he’s back. Go ahead, turn it on.


“Hello. My name’s Jon Stewart. You may remember me from such hits as MTV’s You Wrote It, You Watch It and Elmopalooza!”




It had been six years since he left the Daily Show. He had had six years to think of his first line back.


In front of the audience which was ready to laugh and cheer his return, Jon Stewart had gotten silence.


It didn’t get much better from there. The writing had its moments, but it couldn’t find a rhythm. Stewart joined a roundtable of veterans affected by burn pits. He seemed more like a panelist than a moderator. Stewart visited the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. There, too, he came off as angry and failed to create a meaningful discussion. Critics were hesitant to go after a figure whose talent went without question but had clearly failed to put together a good episode of television.


Episode two went better. The Problem covered freedom, something Stewart surely cared about but maybe one he was willing to go lighter on. His first line landed. He started to feel it. There was a mini-gameshow. He used some video clips. Stewart pulled out a saxophone for good measure. The panel is made up of a lawyer, a journalist, and perhaps most importantly, a comedian, each of whom had been deeply impacted by the effects of tyranny. They worked well together, and three stories of good people hurt by bad ideas became more neat and light than they might have been a week ago. In the second episode of The Problem with Jon Stewart, the Stewart of old (as imagined by a teenager) returns to the small screen.


The Daily Show Jon Stewart could have been a product of his time, and it might be useless to hope such a figure could be recreated a decade later. However, The Problem Jon Stewart is the real deal, and hopefully, viewers can forgive him for the clear missteps in the first episode and enjoy what new insights he has to offer. There will be a lot of them.