First, Samantha Bee and now Trevor Noah. Are none of the unfunny contenders for Jon Stewart’s crown safe? Not even Stewart who made a shambling comeback in an Apple show.
When Stewart originally stepped down, I wrote that, “It’s no wonder that Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart, anticipating eight more years of Hillary, have chosen to move on. The genre has long since outlived its original response to 9/11 sincerity. It now exists only to feed on itself. To act as a comedic Media Matters churning out viral videos slamming opponents for some sin against the left while pretending to be part of mainstream consensus.”
Since then things have only gotten worse. Comedy is mostly dead. Saturday Night Live is Media Matters and Occupy Democrats. Anyone making jokes is pretty much the counterculture. Good thing for Trevor Noah that he didn’t really try to be funny. Seemingly baffled by the whole landscape, he showed up and looked around in bemusement, having inherited the Daily Show before driving it to exciting new lows.
“But after seven years, I feel like it’s time, you know? I spent two years in my apartment, not on the road, stand-up was dead. And when I got back out there again, I realized there’s another part of my life I wanted to carry on exploring. I miss learning other languages, I miss going to other countries, I miss putting on shows,” Trevor Noah told all 5 people in the audience.
I’m sorry. It might actually be as many as 30.
Even he was tired of it. And it’s hard to blame him. It’s hard to think of a more thankless task than injecting more mean-spirited snark into a media landscape already overflowing with it.
The subtext has long since become text. The Daily Show isn’t making fun of the news, it’s echoing it. The central shtick is just what everyone does. The media is political snark, comedy is political snark, and none of it is funny. It’s not sublimated aggression, it is aggression for nerds with dorks like Stewart and Noah trotted out to do what all of Twitter is already doing.
Now maybe the Daily Show can give the slot to Keith Olbermann.