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Adding My Goodbyes, and Thanks, to Jon Stewart
August 6, 2015  | By David Bianculli  | 6 comments

Like almost everyone else on the TV beat, I come here today to praise Jon Stewart, not to bury him. And I look back, with particular fondness, on one particular joke he said to me alone…

It was more than a decade ago, at one of Stewart’s infrequent but memorable appearances at the annual Television Critics Association Awards. Stewart’s cheeky and intelligent brand of humor and news analysis caught the eye of TCA members early, and often.

For the 2002-03 season, a dozen years ago now, the TCA presented The Daily Show with Outstanding Achievement in Comedy, and also honored Stewart with Individual Achievement in Comedy – an award he won again for the 2004-05 season.

But also in 2002-03, the TCA awarded The Daily Show the top award in a much more serious category: Outstanding Achievement in News and Information, a category of winners otherwise populated only by very serious news programs, from 60 Minutes and ABC News Nightline to Frontline and documentaries by Ken Burns.

Receiving that award, Stewart jokingly asked the assembled critics if they knew he was a comedy show. We did. That fact hadn’t escaped us. But we also knew just what Stewart and company were doing on The Daily Show – and then as now, they were analyzing and criticizing the news, and especially the news media, in an entertaining yet invaluably clever and incisive fashion.

So Jon Stewart deserved those TCA Awards then, just as he deserves all the praise and fond farewells he’s getting now. (For my own, which pays particular attention to Stewart’s gifts as a master of transition and as an on-air TV critic, see my blog today on the CNN.com website. For an article by Cleveland Plain Dealer TV critic Mark Dawidziak, an article where I'm among those quoted about Stewart's impact and legacy, visit the Plain Dealer website. And Friday, I'll have a day-after review of his final show on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross.)

But at one of those awards shows of yore, I remember, with a smile, one chance encounter with the man who, tonight, exits The Daily Show after an impressive 16-year run. I was exiting the awards-show ballroom, to make a quick phone call, just as Stewart was arriving. After he made his way through the gauntlet of security folks, attendance-checkers and lanyard-givers, he said hello, saw my TCA credentials, and flashed a look of amused disbelief – if you’ve ever seen The Daily Show, you know the one.

“You’d think,” he said totally deadpan, “given the occasion, you’d have to work this hard to get out of here, not in.”

Thanks, Jon. For everything…

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David, please disable comments. If any of us had anything to say we'd have an audience already.
Aug 8, 2015   |  Reply
Mark Isenberg
Thanks Jon for being a failed actor so you could find a nice gig on cable tv and make a nice living and learn about joy and try to share it with all of us even when occasionally,times were tough to be funny as your cussword thoughts indicated on the final broadcast. And the band was a nice touch.Do they do weddings?
Aug 7, 2015   |  Reply
jeff rubin
Late night TV will be missing Jon's wit, smarts and silliness. I'm gonna miss his incisive jabs at deserving targets(Fox news especially). Spoiler alert.....I'm sure Bruce killed it on the finale doing Land of Hope and Dreams with a little Born 2 Run
Aug 7, 2015   |  Reply
Ike Mazzard
How long is the media going to fellate this guy? He was a lousy comic that found a second life being sarcastic, the lowest form of humor, on cable. Sheesh, move-on already!
Aug 6, 2015   |  Reply
Mark Newhall
Enough already with Stewart mania! He is a liberal hack, and his audience is 100% libs. If he had ever come out of the closet with his true biases, I'd have a little respect for him. Never funny, never worth watching for a guy like me!
Aug 6, 2015   |  Reply
Fair enough that you didn't find Jon Stewart funny or worth watching, but you're wrong to categorize his audience as '100% libs'. His audience spanned all generations and political opinions. For example, my WWII veteran father, who could never be called a liberal, enjoyed The Daily Show for years. In fact, that show was probably the last thing he saw before he fell asleep for the last time at 90. I'll always be grateful for a show that let him laugh while keeping his mind engaged in the world.
Aug 7, 2015
I went to a taping that season! The world was a better place during Jon Stewart as host. He will be missed but I will continue to watch.
Aug 6, 2015   |  Reply
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