For those who missed it, all the speculation about former Daily Show host Jon Stewart’s future can be put to rest. Last night, we learned the next time Mr. Stewart will be on our TV screens—as the host of World Wrestling Entertainment’s flagship summer event SUMMERSLAM this Sunday at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.
An event, I should add, headlined by a bout between an undead wizard named The Undertaker and former UFC champion/walking man-mountain Brock Lesnar. Here’s a video of Brock Lesnar throwing an entire car door at a fan, for reference.
For all the flack pro wrestling gets from the general public, it’s actually no secret that Mr. Stewart is a fan. Example: the time he brought up The Undertaker during a Moment of Zen, and approximately .05 percent of his audience understood the reference. His fandom led to a working relationship with WWE, eventually making its way on-screen and culminating with Mr. Stewart appearing on WWE television and kneeing their champion Seth Rollins in the balls. If you think any part of that statement is embellishment, well, here you go.
I’m sorry but this is all…so great. Absolutely amazing. Remember when the post-Daily Show talk was so serious? Jon was going to leave behind the ha-has of the Daily Show to become a real newsman. At one point he was pretty much a shoe in to replace Brian Williams, right? The country needs Jon Stewart in these times because Jon Stewart is the only honest news source we had! According to us, of course. But never according to Jon Stewart.
Which is why hosting SummerSlam is the perfect first move for Mr. Stewart. It is, by a large margin, the least serious thing he could have done. And I think it’s a nice reminder that for all the (rightful) ideas about Mr. Stewart’s role as a newscaster, the Daily Show still airs on Comedy Central, and the Daily Show is still supposed to make you laugh. One of my, and I’m sure many people’s, favorite parts of Mr. Stewart’s tenure on the Daily Show was the general sense of “giving zero fucks.” And it’s not hard to see where this sense generated. Yes, Mr. Stewart was smart and he was passionate and nine out of ten times he was spot-on in what he was saying, but he was always a comedian first. But we as an audience sort of decided Mr. Stewart would move onto grander and nobler things, without ever really including Mr. Stewart himself in the discussion.
And who is to say those grand and noble things won’t happen? Maybe they will. But first, Mr. Stewart is going to step into a wrestling ring. Wrestling, of course, being perhaps the only medium of entertainment with a more crass image than comedy. But why? Because during this “Golden Age of TV,” with prestige this and prestige that, we just take this television thing too seriously. It’s why so many people assumed Mr. Stewart would do, well, anything other than this after the Daily Show. It’s also why the fact he is doing this is perfect. Because as Jon Stewart has been doing for years, he is once again reminding us that whether you are a newscaster, comedian, journalist, an undead wizard named The Undertaker or any mix thereof, just do whatever the hell makes you happy, and whatever the hell makes them talk.
If this includes kicking a professional wrestler in the balls, so be it.