Maybe I’m a bad Liberal.

Yesterday, Jon Stewart announced that he’d be leaving Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, where he’s been for the past 16 years. During that time, Stewart has won 20 Primetime Emmy Awards, 2 Grammys, 7 Producers Guild of America Awards, 8 TCA Awards, a Writers Guild of America Award, and 3 Peabody awards, among others.

He’s done some stuff. He’s done some great stuff. He’s done some brilliant stuff.

He’s also been a source of frustration — for me, at least. See, between the cutting social commentary about the media, politicians, and culture, Stewart will occasionally reach into a bag of filler jokes that aren’t part of that commentary. One of the jokes that kept making its way to the screen (after all, being on the air 16 years, you’re bound to have some repeats) was the “x is really a dude!” joke (or another variation on that depressingly transphobic trope).

It’s for that reason that I don’t know that I’ve actually watched a full episode of the show in the past decade, but instead, relegate myself to the individual online clips (and even those occasionally have these jokes peppered throughout).

Part of me is afraid to write this post because I already know what the response will be: I’ll have people screaming at me for “not being able to take a joke,” others calling me “thin-skinned,” people asking why I have to “look for something to be offended by,” people accusing me of being “outraged,” as well as folks explaining to me that I don’t “understand satire.”

I’m none of those things. The Daily Show has been on TV in its current iteration for more than half of my life. I haven’t been lobbying against the show, haven’t been launching protests, and as I said above, I do truly believe that the show is frequently excellent. I’m just laying out why I feel conflicted about Stewart’s departure, and wonder if it makes me a bad Liberal for not being as heartbroken as so many others in my Twitter feed were.


All examples via yourmomentofhate.

Starts at 2:30

John Stewart: “But, as always in these debates, it’s left to the longest shot to say the craziest thing. (smugly) I give you Ohio Representative, Dennis Kucinich.”

Clip of Dennis Kucinich: I’d nominate any gay to the Supreme Court, or lesbian or bisexual or transgendered person to the Supreme Court (as long as they were ready to uphold Roe v. Wade)

John Stewart: “Yes, Yes. All rise for the honorable Justice Chick with Dick!”

*Laughter, applause*

The Daily Show, July 22. 2003

Starts at 2:06

“But Cow and Chipmunk are not alone! They are joined by Transvestite, who worries that her true gender will be revealed by this new system.”

Voiceover with fake translation: “I am afraid that when I lumber out of my apartment in a tight dress with my scrotum taped back and my large hands covering my adams apple, somewhere, some bureaucrat will know I am a dude.”

-Jon Stewart

The Daily Show, August 22, 2002

Starts at 3:30

“Here’s a general rule of thumb I have: if you don’t know whether you’ve made a particular mistake more or less than 50 times, that’s not really a mistake. At that point, it’s something you do.
For instance, how many times have I accidentally picked up a tranny hooker at a truck-stop? I wanna say it’s in the 50s, but it could be higher. I-I-i- guess what I’m saying is I’m nearsighted?”

-John Stewart

The Daily Show, July 30. 2008

Starts at 1:30

“Governor Bob Riley, of Alabama, is fond of banana pudding…when served off the breasts of a Thai shemale.”

-Jon Stewart

The Daily Show, March 19, 2008

Starts at 0:30

“Now, I’m shocked. I am under the impression, as many other people are, of two facts: the media… are liberal…and Barbara Walters is a shemale”

-Jon Stewart

The Daily Show, March 17, 2003


Image Credit: Brad Barket