Comedian Jon Stewart emerged (literally) from beneath his friend and former colleague Stephen Colbert’s desk last night to do again what he did so well for 17 years on The Daily Show: rebuke the lunacy that is American presidential politics, namely Donald Trump and his advocates on Fox News.
Colbert’s Late Show on CBS aired a live show immediately following the final night of the Republican National Convention, during which Donald Trump gave a speech to accept his nomination as president. Trump’s speech was widely criticized for its “dark” vision of America and its fear-mongering (even by some Republicans), and for its distortion of US crime statistics, among other things.
But then, as if answering a clarion call to awake him from a yearlong hibernation, Stewart returned. After ending his run as host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show last August, Stewart mostly fell off the grid, making scant public appearances. This, though, was Stewart in all his glory.
Stewart, sporting a gray beard and clip-on tie, had some tough words for Fox News’s Sean Hannity and others who support Trump. “You just want [Trump] to give you your country back, because you feel that you’re this country’s rightful owners,” he said. “There’s only one problem with that: This country isn’t yours—you don’t own it. It never was. There is no ‘real’ America. You don’t own patriotism, you don’t own Christianity, you sure as hell don’t own respect for the bravery and sacrifice of military, police, and firefighters.”
Stewart’s righteous rant felt like a year’s worth of pent-up frustration with the presidential election, but he still had room for plenty of jokes. “I thought Donald Trump was going to speak—Ivanka [Trump] said he was going to come out, she said he was really compassionate and generous,” Stewart said. “But then this angry groundhog came out and just vomited on everyone for an hour.”
Stewart even managed to throw in a rather scatological dig at Arby’s, the American chain restaurant that was so often the target of his mockery on The Daily Show.
The comedian is set to return to the spotlight in earnest sometime in the near future as part of a new HBO project, which will likely involve bite-sized, shareable videos (in lieu of a normal nightly TV show). HBO CEO Richard Plepler said he “hoped” Stewart’s HBO enterprise would be ready before November’s election.
If last night is any indication, Stewart looks like he’s ready to return to lambasting politicians and media figures and helping Americans make sense of the circus that is the 2016 presidential election. America’s ready for him too.