Happy 50th birthday Jon Stewart! And Paul Dinello, as well! Before Jon was the world’s most celebrated late night satirist, he was the replacement host for Craig Kilborn on a little basic cable program called The Daily Show. He also inherited a fine cast of correspondents, including a handsome young man named Stephen Colbert. Let’s take a look back at his first episode. Stephen also appears at the 4:59 mark:
It’s kind of hard to watch this and not appreciate how far the show and Jon and Stephen have come since the Stewart version of TDS’ debut in January 1999. Where would we all be without them? The Daily Show redefined the meaning of modern satire, all the while putting pressure on our media to reevaluate its own editorial standards in a way that continues to this very day. For who wants to be on the receiving end of Jon or Stephen’s critique? Just ask Tucker Carlson.
It seems at first that Jon and Stephen’s approach to humor are so different: Jon usually plays the straight man, he has a stand-up background, and his manner is detached when presenting his material. Stephen, on the other hand, is a masterful improviser, audacious, and most comfortable when cloaked in a character passionately attached to his viewpoints. Now it is apparent from even this early clip that they are so well matched and compatible in their (sometimes outrageous, always awesome) comedic sensibilities. Their collaboration gave rise to not only many great years of The Daily Show, but TDS’ little brother, The Colbert Report.
Wish the boys a happy b-day in the comments.