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Can we survive summer without Jon Stewart?

OPINION

  • Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart (Getty Images file )
March 07, 2013|By Hector Luis Alamo Jr., @hectorluisalamo | For RedEye

Three months. That's how long you'll have to go without America's most popular satirist—and, awkwardly enough, its most trusted newsman.

Jon Stewart is taking a three-month hiatus from "The Daily Show" this summer to direct his first movie, "Rosewater." Written by Stewart, the movie tells the true story of a former guest who was jailed by Iranian authorities while reporting on the elections there.

Obviously the film won't be in Stewart's sweet spot, comedy—which is like Steven Spielberg directing "The Hangover Part III" or James Franco writing poetry.

Less funny than Stewart's directorial debut will be the three months we'll have to survive without his uncanny ability to give us pertinent day-to-day information while reminding us how absurd it all is.

Sure, we'll have the stand-in, John Oliver, who is funny and witty and British to boot. But John is certainly no Jon.

There's something indescribably irreplaceable about Stewart. Even the equally famous "Daily Show" alum Stephen Colbert doesn't quite measure up to his old boss. Stewart comes across as more respectable, serious and trustworthy. Maybe it's all the gray hair.

Or maybe it's because unlike Colbert, who's playing a character, Stewart's just being Stewart, which allows him to be more versatile.

Stewart is sometimes a clown, sometimes a satirist, sometimes Joe Blow, sometimes an elitist, sometimes a raging liberal and sometimes a poised moderate. Just when you think he's merely a working-class comic who got lucky landing a hit show, he'll come at you with straight-up facts and critical thinking.

And you don't fully appreciate just who Jon Stewart is and what he does until you actually tune in and he makes you laugh at something the rest of the world seems to be losing hair over.

Yes, he can get a little Rachel Maddow-y here and there with his insistence that civilized society has begun its slow and inevitable circling of the drain. But for the most part, Stewart's the voice of reason telling everybody to calm down—unlike Maddow, who mounts her high horse every night and yells into the camera, "The Republicans are coming! The Republicans are coming!"

Jon never does that. He's more likely to get on a unicycle and warn, "The Republicans and Democrats are coming!"

That's what he means to America, or at least to millions of young people like me. He's the wisecrackin' uncle, the 21st century's Mark Twain, America's Oscar Wilde. Stewart is the guy who puts a reassuring hand on your shoulder and calmly points out the B.S.—which invariably turns out to be virtually everything.

This might read like a premature obituary for a man who's taking only three months off, but the fact that Stewart won't be there this summer to help us make sense of stuff is a discomforting thought. Lord knows the likes of CNN, MSNBC and Fox News won't help us make sense of any of it. (I'm still shaken up by the "Snowquester.")

Stewart makes you laugh and think. He tells you to be serious and relax. I'm just glad he won't be gone for good.

You need him. I need him. America needs him. Hurry back, Jon.

Hector Luis Alamo Jr. is a RedEye special contributor.

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