Farewell, Jon Stewart: Top 10 British Moments on The Daily Show
Laura Humphreys | On 11, Aug 2015
And so, the inevitable march towards a Donald Trump Presidency in 2016 has begun. America’s last line of defence against right-wing madness, Jon Stewart, has gone to live on a farm upstate (we have been assured that this isn’t the same euphemism your family used when your Labrador died, but is in fact a literal account of Stewart’s retirement plans). In a star-studded circle-jerk of a farewell episode last week, featuring every Daily Show Correspondent ever, Stephen Colbert talking about Lord of the Rings, and Bruce Springsteen playing to the smallest crowd he has seen in decades, Stewart said goodbye to fake news after almost 17 years in the chair.
Apart from the nuclear war President Trump will probably start with, well, everyone before the Rio Olympics even manage to get underway, what does this mean for Britain? Nothing, right? Wrong. From time to time, Jon Stewart turned his legendary snark and even more legendary impression of our glorious Queen (“HEEEELLLLOOOOOO!”) across the pond. Often with the help of John Oliver, The Daily Show’s Senior British / Royal Correspondent (and eventual host during the summer of 2013), the Daily Show took regular inspiration from (and deadly accurate aim at) the special relationship between the UK and the USA. Presumably to help us commiserate with our American cousins on their loss, Comedy Central is now allowing access to the clip archive of The Daily Show from the UK (full episodes of The Daily Show are available on iTunes). And so, in his honour, we’ve put together a list of the Top 10 British Moments on The Daily Show.
Fare thee well, Mr. Stewart. If President Trump deports you, you can always come to the UK and host Have I got News for You.
10. Helen Mirren Interview, 2010
Helen Mirren made a few appearances on TDS over the years. In this interview, she explains to Stewart the process of becoming a Dame (and also delivers Prince Charles a sick burn on the side). But the main attraction is a learning moment for Mirren, when Jon Stewart shows her how you really impersonate Queen Elizabeth II. We’re pretty sure she had to give him her Oscar for it.
9. On Her Majesty’s Secret Cervix, 2013
One of several guest appearances from John Oliver here. Oliver took over from Jon Stewart during the summer of 2013, while Stewart was off growing a hipster beard and directing Rosewater (out next month on DVD and VOD). This clip reminds us all of just how utterly bonkers our obsession with Kate Middleton’s baby-maker was in 2013, but also, how our obsession was nothing compared to that of the American News Networks.
[Side note – John Oliver’s own show (and his questionable new haircut), This Week Tonight, can be watched online in the UK on YouTube and occasionally on NOW.]
8. Monarchy in the US, 2014
Jessica Williams, one of the show’s most talented correspondents and a huge fan favourite (she reportedly turned down Stewart’s chair before it went to Trevor Noah), rips into Will and Kate’s 2014 visit to America, explaining that they were just over there looking for a cool black friend.
7. Clustershag to 10 Downing, 2010
Riffing on the famous CLusterf*ck to the Whitehouse election segments, Jon Stewart turned his snark on the famous “I agree with Nick” debates of the 2010 election.) With John Oliver’s help, he took on Gordon Brown’s bigotgate nightmare, including the ultimately accurate prediction that Brown’s tenure as Prime Minister was done. Showing a truly thoughtful and well-researched understanding of British Culture, Stewart even threw in a reference to Susan Boyle.
6. Accountability in the UK, 2011
In these segments, Jon Stewart turned his attention to Rupert Murdoch and the Parliamentary Select Committee on phone-hacking and press douchebaggery, Wendi Deng-Murdoch and her vicious left hook, and PMQs. The PMQs section is a definite highlight, but not for the reasons you would necessarily expect. Did Stewart destroy the antiquated practice for being a bunch of pre-submitted questions that rarely, if ever, get a straight or coherent answer, but instead just direct a mouthful of Bullingdon Club abuse to a back-bencher? No, he did not, and that’s a bit of a bummer. He thought it looked brilliant, in comparison to the culture of never questioning the President to his face in the US. While we may not agree with what you say, Stewart, you said it hilariously.
5. Nicola Sturgeon Interview, 2015
One of Jon Stewart’s last British guests, Nicola Sturgeon was granted the honour of an extended interview on TDS. Appearing in the wake of the SNP’s almost-wipeout election victory, Sturgeon was much funnier than one might expect a Scottish First Minister to be. Also, she apparently got a commitment from Stewart to come and do stand-up at the Edinburgh Fringe next year, which wins our vote. Stewart shows a reasonable command of British politics here, especially the harsh austerity driving Scotland’s turn to the SNP – while also taking the piss out of haggis.
4. Boris Johnson Interview, 2012
Boris is as much of a buffoon as we have come to expect, and within the first 40 seconds, Stewart makes a gag about his hair – so far, so good. Stewart asks for Johnson’s opinion on then-New-York-Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s ban on 16oz (translation: bucket-sized) sodas, and Boris ends up offering the oppressed masses of New York refugee status in London. You do feel that if Stewart had been a bit less glib (and a bit less obsessed with the soda), he might have got more out of the famously-bonkers BoJo – a very rare misstep indeed. It’s a shame they never had a rematch, but this is a good interview nonetheless.
3. Sir Archibald Mapsalot III
Senior British Correspondent John Oliver joins Stewart again, showcasing the electric chemistry between the two that was only ever second to Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Sir Archibald explains the intricacies of ruling the Middle East with an arbitrary border or two, because when borders get squiggly, people get squiggly. First rule of imperialism, Jon: don’t overthink it.
2. Ricky Gervais Interviews, 2006-2014
Gervais and Stewart go back a long way (he is apparently the man who recommended John Oliver for a job on the show), and their multiple interviews are all hilarious and off-colour in the extreme, because two comedians behaving badly leads to more mischief than one acting alone. This particular interview (of which approximately 12 seconds is suitable for broadcast) was done when Gervais was promoting Life’s Too Short and runs the gamut from CGI panda porn to erectile dysfunction within three minutes. You can be sure that The Daily Show producers had some really awkward phone calls from the network bosses the following morning concerning the phrase “big wobbly spunk bomb”. And the hand gestures that accompanied the racoon story.
1. Prince Charles Scandal, 2003
Rated as one of the funniest clips ever on TDS, this one dates back to the good old days when the Colbert Report was but a twinkle in our eyes, and Stephen Colbert was still a Senior Correspondent. Colbert was known as a master of composure and in-character delivery, but this was one of the only times he ever lost it and corpsed an entire segment. Fair enough, really. You will never be able to eat a banana without feeling treasonous ever again.