When Jon Stewart took over Comedy Central's "Daily Show" from host Craig Kilborn, most of mainstream America had no idea who he was. While Stewart was a familiar presence in the New York comedy scene, he was perhaps best known for MTV's "The Jon Stewart Show," which lasted all of two seasons and lived in relative obscurity on basic cable.
Stewart transformed the "Daily Show" from a half-hour session of edgy comedy into 30 minutes of biting political satire, which rankled Kilborn's staff (many of whom stayed on during the transition period). Stewart hired his head writer from The Onion and began to cobble together a show that eventually became something of a safety blanket for war-weary libertarians and progressives during the Bush administration.
I felt like I walked in there with a very open “O.K., so this will be great,” and it was “Hey, motherfucker, you came here to kill a baby.”
Stewart's "Daily Show" was an unmitigated success that spawned the careers of several other comedy icons, including Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, John Oliver, Steve Carrell, Larry Wilmore, Rob Corddry, Ed Helms and more. Stewart's "Daily Show" also won 18 Emmy awards, four Television Critics Association Awards, three Critics' Choice Television Awards and three Peabody awards. Stewart has also won 2 Grammy awards for his best-selling audiobooks for "America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction" and "Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race."
Nobody was able to expose the hypocrisy of politicians, journalists and moguls like Stewart. His monologues managed to juggle both irreverent humor and moments of poignancy. He was there for America after 9/11 and famously destroyed the CNN show "Crossfire" on-air (resulting in the show's cancellation).
Although many have attempted to assume the mantle he left behind, Jon Stewart is still the king of late-night satirical TV.