Jon Stewart’s final “Daily Show” opened with a nod to the past as a star-studded cast of current and former correspondents joined him to cover the first Republican debate.
Jessica Williams, Hasan Minhaj and Jordan Klepper reported from the debate, covering Donald Trump, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker’s debate performance. They were soon joined by a returning Samantha Bee, Lewis Black, Steve Carell, Vance DeGeneres, Mo Rocca, Matt Walsh and an angry Larry Wilmore, whose “Nightly Show” got bumped for an extended finale for Stewart.
“Black shows matter,” Wilmore said, a nod to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Next Josh Gad, Rob Corddry and Darth Vader returned: “It has come to my attention you’ve been comparing me to Dick Cheney,” Vader said, cautioning he might be evil, but he is no Cheney.
Bassem Youssef joined the festivities from the Middle East; Michael Che and Craig Kilborn next popped up and Stewart’s successor Trevor Noah came on to measure his predecessor up — literally.
As Stewart spoke, Noah measured the “Daily Show” set in preparation for his arrival. He concluded by taking a tape measure to Stewart’s manly parts.
Olivia Munn popped on set with a birthday cake, confusing Stewart’s swan song with his 70th birthday.
Munn was followed by a political montage for the ages: Chris Christie, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, Charlie Rangel, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, Rahm Emanuel, Wolf Blitzer, Lindsey Graham, John Kerry, Bill O’Reilly and John McCain bid their farewells.
“So long, jackass,” McCain said in the pretaped piece.
Next, Ed Helms returned, followed by Wyatt Cenac, reporting directly outside the show’s studio. They were followed by the infamous muppet “Gitmo,” who was overjoyed at the prospect that Stewart’s departure meant he was being released from Guantanamo Bay.
“Yay, finally getting out!” Gitmo said before Stewart crushed his spirits with the unfortunate news he wasn’t going anywhere.
John Oliver also joined the fray, reciting what he had for breakfast the day of his first “Daily Show” appearance before Stewart cut him off for time, citing commercial breaks.
“What the f— is a commercial? You’re talking madness!” the HBO host said, subtly bragging about his ad-free freedom at the premium cable network.
Stewart thanked all of his onscreen correspondents and contributors, saying that they had made it hard to screw the show up. But there was one more correspondent left.
Stephen Colbert, a.k.a. “Sam” from “The Lord of the Rings,” appeared. “Aren’t you forgetting someone, Jon?” he said, impersonating the fantasy character. He then got serious with thanks for Stewart.
“We owe you because we learned from you — you were infuriatingly good at your job,” he said as Stewart held back tears.
Stewart then did a short segment on the bullshit that permeates society: “Bullshit is everywhere,” Stewart began. “Banks shouldn’t be able to bet your pension money on red,” he said, followed by a conclusion that touched on climate change, gay marriage and gun control.
“Finally, it’s the bullshit of infinite possibility,” he said. “The best defense against bullshit is vigilance, so if you smell something say something.”
Surprisingly, Stewart made no mention of his favorite foe, Fox News Channel. The departing host also paid tribute to his staff with a segment that took the audience through the “Daily Show” newsroom.
Stewart concluded referencing what a wise mentor once told him: “He thinks of his career as a long conversation with the audience — a dialogue. It takes away the idea of finality; this show isn’t ending, we’re merely taking a pause in the conversation.”
“Rather than saying goodbye, I’m just gonna say, ‘I’m going to go get a drink.’”
And with that, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band sang the show out, singing “Land of Hopes and Dreams” and “Born To Run” as Stewart, family, friends and colleagues danced on set.
“Thank you, goodnight,” Stewart said, wrapping a legendary run.
Watch video of Stewart’s final rant below.