Back in June, Colin Quinn suggested that after his stint on The Daily Show was done, Jon Stewart should come back to the Comedy Cellar in New York. Last night, for the first time in over a decade, he did.
The unsuspecting 9:30 crowd, who paid $14 tickets greeted the talk-show host with a standing ovation. (Louis CK had dropped in earlier.)
The Daily Show version of Jon Stewart is polished and slick, an almost fatherly figure who delivers liberal comedy sermons in an Armani suit. But in this small room he was in a T-shirt and a Mets cap and lamenting the years when he waited tables at a shitty Mexican restaurant down the street and nobody liked his jokes. He mentioned people asking how he could leave the show with Donald Trump serving up so much great material, and talked about how black people and Jews have so much in common they should really just unite. (That last bit is kind of a touchy subject, given former Daily Show correspondent Wyatt Cenac's recent comments about his experience being the only black writer on the program.)
Despite his lengthy hiatus from standup, Stewart came off relaxed and confident, feeding into the speculation of what his post–Daily Show life might be like. Some think he'll turn to directing movies, as he did with 2014's Rosewater. Others have wondered whether he will go the route of Johnny Carson, who more or less rode off into the sunset and largely retired from public life.
For now, it appears Stewart himself doesn't even exactly know what he'll be doing. Should he choose to do a new special, it will be his first since HBO's 1996 special Unleavened, which is now available in its entirety on YouTube.
As he exited the stage, Stewart received a second standing ovation. This could have been a final farewell to the Cellar—or the start of a series of regular surprise sets. Not bad for the price of a mixed drink at most bars in the neighborhood.
UPDATE: Due to an editing error an earlier version of the headline of this piece and the piece itself stated that the author had attended the stand-up set, when in fact the author was not there. He spoke to people who were in attendance.
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