Jon Stewart has left audiences high and dry, right? After 16 years hosting The Daily Show, he left viewers with just six months warning of his impending retirement.
The reality is that despite Stewart’s retirement, viewers may be entering a golden age of satirical news coverage. And why not? Mainstream news isn’t doing its job anymore and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart trained a variety of producers, writers and comedians in how to skewer the news while telling it. Stewart didn’t leave viewers alone when he departed. He left a wealth of comedy: five deserving alums with their very own satirical news shows, as well as one with an incredibly funny podcast.
Most know Stephen Colbert will be hosting The Late Show after David Letterman steps down. Here’s an exclusive clip of him reassuring a panicked viewer who’s freaking out over Jon Stewart’s retirement.
Keep in mind that Colbert enjoyed a few years when The Colbert Report was equal to—and occasionally better than—The Daily Show. He’ll be back every night and though he won’t be playing his trademark farcically conservative character anymore, he ought to be bringing much of his humor to a longer format.
It will be exciting to see where Colbert takes his show, and how intensely he’s willing to rethink network late night’s tried and true, yet rather tepid format. He’s already said his show needs to feature more women than late night typically does, and it may end up being closer to The Daily Show in coverage, too.
The Daily Show itself will still be around, with a no less talented and incisive comedian than Stewart himself. Trevor Noah’s got the chops as a comic, but can he wrangle an entire show and act as its host? Much of The Daily Show‘s infrastructure is still in place: organization, writers, and even supporting talent.
As big a deal as was made over the exodus of correspondents like Samantha Bee and Jason Jones, it does create more room for fan favorites Jessica Williams, John Hodgman, and Al Madrigal. There’s also room for new correspondents who can continue pushing The Daily Show forward.
Early in 2016, we’ll have a show which Daily Show alum Samantha Bee describes as “female as f**k.” She’s essentially been given carte blanche by TBS to create a new kind of nightly show, and they’re letting her take her time to make it her way. (She’s also developing a separate TBS comedy series with Jason Jones titled “The Detours.”)
It remains to be seen whether she tackles news the same way Stewart does, but there’s a reason Bee holds the record for longest run by a regular on The Daily Show (2003-2015) outside of Stewart himself. If you recall her roles in a number of Daily Show election episodes, you’ll also know she’s the most capable on this list of giving us hilarious and poignant 2016 election coverage.
Hewing closest in tone (so far) to Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” format, John Oliver’s weekly HBO show (officially released for free on YouTube) has more of a laser focus on issues. Where Stewart would offer a buffet of topics, Oliver hones in on one. He’s already seeing real-world results, including prompting the IRS to investigate certain televangelists.
While not guaranteed, Oliver’s also discussed the possibility of expanding the show from a half-hour to a full hour or doing more frequent episodes in the future. It’s clear he’s enjoying his role and the freedom that HBO has given him.
Despite some early bumps and bruises, and several adjustments to his format, Larry Wilmore’s “The Nightly Show” offers up some good satire and discussion. Unlike many other satirical news shows, his often focuses on racial justice issues. As the show finds its footing, it’s lost some viewers from “The Colbert Report”‘s strong marks, but it’s still a successful, funny, and focused nightly breath of fresh air.
OK, so it’s not on TV, but the weekly podcast has a certain genius to it. “Daily Show” contributor John Hodgman acts as a judge for utterly meaningless disputes: how long a husband is allowed to take making each move in a board game against his wife, which brother gets a parking spot, or who should control the musical playlist on long car rides. It’s hilarious, and you can listen to it here.
Of course, these are options that aren’t brought to you by Daily Show alums. This Shouldn’t Be News with Akilah Hughes is a new weekly featurette by Fusion. Though only clip-length, it tackles such topics as the way women speak and Donald Trump telling children he’s Batman.
“Real Time with Bill Maher” persists, though many have soured on certain religious prejudices its host has adopted more and more in recent years.
There will be others. Stewart’s is a void many comedians and journalists will try to fill, but it’s not as if viewers are suddenly left in a satirical news desert. Audiences will have more options to choose from than ever before.