It’s halfway through December, which means 2009 is almost over – and so is the first decade of the 2000s. As news programs and magazines reflect on the end of this year and all that’s happened in the past 10 years, I’d like to recognize a man who I think has significantly influenced this decade: Jon Stewart. In 1999, when he took over the hosting job at Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, he was essentially unknown, a comedian who had done stand-up, some appearances on Dave Letterman’s show, and a handful of movies. Now, he is considered, according to an online poll from TIME Magazine, the “most trusted man in news” today. Similarly, The Daily Show itself, during his tenure as host, has gone from being a small show parodying conventional newscasts to an enormously popular show parodying politics and the media. According to the Pew Research Center, "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart", despite being a “fake news show”, is actually a primary news source for many young people.
Jon Stewart has won Emmys and Peabody Awards for The Daily Show; hosted the Oscars twice; written a best-selling book (America: the Book); and helped to launch the careers of two other well-known comedians: Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell. Stephen Colbert started out as a correspondent on The Daily Show in 1997 (before Stewart), and gained so much popularity for his segments on the show that he was given his own Comedy Central show, The Colbert Report. Steve Carell joined The Daily Show as a correspondent in 1999; he left to star in the hit TV sitcom The Office, and has since become famous for his movie roles, both small (Anchorman) and large (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Get Smart). I think that Jon Stewart, as host of The Daily Show for the last 10 years, can claim some credit for Colbert and Carell’s current popularity, since his show gave them the platform to launch their solo careers.
As one of the most popular and influential comedians of our time, who has redefined both comedy and politics, Jon Stewart deserves to be considered a Man of the Decade.