As you might have heard, Jon Stewart is taking a summer break from The Daily Show to direct his first movie, and correspondent John Oliver is taking over hosting duties. Like a lot of people, I wasn’t so sure how this would go, and I expected to shout “You’re not my real Daily Show host!” at the TV during John’s first episode and then go slam the door to my bedroom. I didn’t think I’d be able to enjoy watching him in a capacity bigger than a five-minute correspondent piece. But I decided to tune in last night and see how it went, and I have to say I really enjoyed it.
I thought it was great that from the get-go, John said, “Let’s all acknowledge for a moment that this is weird.” It was weird, but him saying that made it less weird somehow. Later on, the other correspondents made the requisite jokes about not getting the gig, and it was all just as entertaining as you’ve come to expect from this show. John took a little time to address his inherent Britishness, with a couple of Mary Poppins jokes and whatnot. But then it was time to get down to business, because it just so happens that immediately after Jon with no H left the show, the story about the NSA monitoring Americans’ data broke. It was your typical Daily Show coverage, complete with clips, funny jokes, and charming commentary from the host. I particularly enjoyed the joke about “zetabytes” (the form of data the NSA uses) being how Michael Douglas got throat cancer. The fact of the matter is, The Daily Show still has great writing, and John is very charming and funny. He doesn’t have the Jon Stewartness that only Jon Stewart possesses, but if you want to have a good laugh and feel smart before you go to bed, this is still the show for you. John brings enough of his own personality to the position that it feels genuine, but he’s also adopted enough of Jon’s hosting style that it doesn’t feel too jarring. It’s still early on, but I think we can all feel safe for the summer.
The only part of the show I’m not so sure about is the interview segment. John’s first guest was Seth Rogen, which I think was a good way to ease him into the duties. I’m just not sure how good he’ll be at interviewing more serious guests. The interviews I’ve seen from John Oliver have mostly been satirical and mocking. On the other hand, Jon Stewart is magically able to strike the right balance between taking the guest seriously and inserting jokes here and there. I’m wary of John’s ability to do the same, but I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt.
You can watch the entirety of last night’s episode here, but if you’re in the mood to hear some classic Seth Rogen laughter (why wouldn’t you?), you can find that interview below.