Those of you who are in no way, shape or form a fan of Jon Stewart as well as those of you who love his work so much they cannot imagine The Daily Show without him may want to stop reading right now:
Jon Stewart is going to take the summer off from doing The Daily Show in favor of directing from his own script a film tentatively titled Rosewater, which is an adaptation of the non-fiction novel Then They Came For Me. Can we expect laughs o’ plenty from the feature film directorial debut of everyone’s favorite funnyman who delivered instant classic performances in…ah, who are we kidding. His films, or at least his performances in them, are terrible (see: Big Daddy, Death to Smoochy.) We know him as funny from The Daily Show. Well, get ready to know his more somber side considering that Then They Came For Me details the true story of Maziar Bahari, a British journalist imprisoned by the Iranian government for three months in 2009 while in the country to cover the presidential election. To cope with the “brutal” interrogation sessions, Bahari clung to memories of beloved family members and the hope that he would return home in time for the birth of his child.
And hilarity ensues, right? Eh, probably not. Regular viewers of the show might recall how over the past couple of years Stewart has regularly been effusive with his praise for guests who come to the show from the Middle East to promote books detailing their own personal hard knocks story. As such, the news that Jon Stewart would be interested in telling a micro-level story about one individual’s resilience in the face of systemic adversity in the Middle East (in this case, specifically Iran) is not surprising. However, that Stewart would want to both write and direct this story and vacate his seat at The Daily Show for an entire summer to do so seems to come out of nowhere.
What becomes of The Daily Show in Stewart’s absence? Well, that’s the part where I actually get excited: it will go into re-runs for 4 weeks (boo!) and will be guest-hosted by John Oliver for the other 8 weeks (hip-hip huzzah!)
Fellow WeMinoredInFilm writer Julianne and I recently discussed who among the current Daily Show correspondents could we see making a successful transition to a spin-off show, ala Stephen Colbert and The Colbert Report. We both agreed that John Oliver, the fantastically British correspondent since 2006, was the best candidate. Well, he’s not getting his own show, but for two months he is getting Jon Stewart’s show. Optimism should be tempered as this is not the first time the show has proceeded with a guest-host, lest we forget when Stewart hosted The Oscars in 2006 The Daily Show proceeded for a week in his absence with the correspondents from the show (such as Ed Helms and Rob Corddry) taking turns as guest host. The results, while not horrible, were a reminder of how critical Stewart is to the formula of the show. However, I am interested to see what the show looks like with John Oliver at the center, who as the temporary center of the show may get a reprieve from the tendency of the show to put him into funny British costumes (e.g., a Dickensian street urchin). Julianne, on the other hand, is far more concerned with the slightest hint of Jon Stewart easing out of his gig at The Daily Show, and has no idea what kind of interviewer Oliver will prove to be.
Below are links to examples of Oliver’s work on The Daily Show:
If you are not familiar with Oliver, you may know him from his recurring role as Professor Ian Duncan on Community:
You can also access John Oliver through his weekly podcast, The Bugle, which he writes and produces with partner Andy Zaltzman. With its slogan of “An Audio Newspaper for a Visual World”, The Bugle sees the two comedians discussing the topical stories from around the world and attempting to find humor where others may have failed. Occasionally, Oliver will discuss details of his life on the show, with my personal favorite anecdote being an account of having performed at a free stand-up concert in Central Park and hearing the literal chirping of crickets in response to a bad joke he had delivered. You can also check out his interview with Marc Maron on the WTF podcast, which true to the reputation of WTF is a more serious-minded discussion of his life and career.