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When it comes to fake news anchors, Jon Stewart is the best. Obviously. So what happened when the King of Clever Political Comedy took the summer off to direct a movie? How did The Daily Show with Jon Stewart actually carry on… without Jon Stewart?
When Stewart left The Daily Show three months ago, he put it in the capable hands of John Oliver, a stand-up comic who is one of the show's fake news correspondents. On Tuesday night, when Stewart reclaims his anchor desk, he has Oliver to thank for maintaining his audience, more or less. Per The Hollywood Reporter, the show's ratings dipped slightly, but not significantly, and TV critics have almost universally given Oliver high marks.
"He's a bit goofier… and younger than Stewart, which helps the show avoid the cynicism that occasionally comes with satire," wrote Vulture. "And he's shown himself adept at the myriad roles the gig demands: pulling back on the comedy to make a serious point, operating as a straight man to correspondents, and conveying genuine pathos when the story calls for it." Watch a montage of Oliver's best moments (cleverly edited as memorial package) here:
Did Oliver usurp Stewart's throne? We wouldn't go that far. There is no one like Stewart, who molded this uniquely hilarious show into a pop culture touchstone that has managed to score 10 consecutive Emmys. ("Free sandwich after 10!" Stewart cried at the Emmy 2012 ceremony, upon accepting the 10th.)
Yet despite the critical love and ratings success his show enjoys, Stewart has remained refreshingly humble. "Years from now, when the earth is just a burning husk and aliens visit, they will find a box of these, and they will know just how predictable these f***ing things can be!" he cried in that Emmys speech. Watch it here:
No one knows Stewart's value better than the staff who works with him at The Daily Show. In advance of his return, they've posted a five-minute clip of the host's gags over the last 15 years. Watch it here:
Some critics predict that Oliver will either get his own show, or take over once Stewart retires. And Oliver has proven to be a worthy successor. But we're not even close to ready to say goodbye to the Jon without the h.
Jennifer Graham Kizer is an Atlanta-based writer who covers pop culture and watches too much TV. Luckily, iVillage gives her an excuse to watch even more. Follow her on Google+.