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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Next ‘Daily Show’ host: nobody

This great nation suffered a tragedy this last week: Jon Stewart announced he was leaving “The Daily Show,” something that existed before him but that he turned into a powerful political and comedic entity.

In the wake of his departure, fans began suggesting replacements, pointing at comedians and pundits with one hand while wiping away tears with the other.

Who should replace Stewart? No one.

“The Daily Show” is something we millennials grew up with. We laughed, we laughed some more and we even got a little bit of news while watching it. That being said, preferably, it should fade into obscurity — and possibly syndication — with a good memory rather than suffering a long and slow decline. Often, television shows, books and movies hand the reins off to the worst possible jockey. And let’s face it, reboots suck.

One reboot, though, that I could get behind is moving Jessica Williams from the correspondent’s seat to the chair in the middle.

But unlike Ester Bloom of The Billfold, I hold no illusions about forcefully pushing someone into a role for which they don’t aspire. In her article, Bloom begs Williams to “lean in,” referencing the inescapable book encouraging women to lean into their positions and really get their heads in the game to overcome institutionalized sexism, a call to arms Williams rightfully takes offense to.

“Bullshit,” Bloom writes, in response to Williams’ public assertions that she doesn’t want Stewart’s job. “All Williams needs is a pep talk. Get Luvvie in a room with her, and Jazmine, and Amy Poehler and Lena Dunham. Get Paul Feig in there too, and Ta-Nehisi Coates, and George R. R. Martin. Get her the best Lean In group of all time. She will emerge as from a funeral pyre, naked and coiled in dragons, ready to lead.”

I’m not really certain how that was ever construed as inoffensive. Does anyone really want to be told that they need to be reborn in fire a la Daenerys Targaryen because their current existence is subpar? Probably not.

Bloom’s assertion that Williams’ personal career decisions could reduce systemic racism and sexism within the entertainment industry is well-intentioned, but, in effect, it perpetuates the same problems it seeks to solve.

Williams has been a favorite addition to “The Daily Show” cast of witty and accomplished political comedians, and her work has frequently been a testament to the problems that Bloom thinks her promotion could solve; she’s tackled issues such as white appropriation of black hair and gender bias in the workplace.

But Williams is a boss and therefore knows what she wants, something she politely made known on Twitter in response to Bloom’s piece.

“I am a black woman and I am a feminist and I am so many things,” she wrote. “I am truly honored that people love my work. But I am not yours.”

Her proclamation, “I am not yours,” talks back to the trend of insincere affirmative action within the entertainment industry. No one wants to be a charity case hired for their color or gender rather than their merit, and while Bloom may have thought she was doing Williams a favor in endorsing her, her article read more as an indictment of white guilt.

Besides, this promotion isn’t necessarily a great step for Williams. Her star is rising, and the position would be a challenging encounter with expectations for any successor. Stewart left behind a legacy that anyone, experienced in the position or not, would find difficult to follow. So, why are we asking anyone to do so?

While Jimmy Fallon might have worked out on “The Tonight Show,” I think we can all agree that we want to punch Piers Morgan in the face whenever he speaks. Sometimes, a legacy is too easily ruined.

So, don’t try to replace Stewart, Comedy Central. Let “The Daily Show” die in peace. Let its reruns be artifacts on late night TV, always there to serve as an especially funny and relevant but inappropriate citation for a class paper.


Nick Havey is a junior studying physiology and Spanish. Follow him on Twitter.

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