Sixteen years is a long time for any relationship. At that point, you've gotten past the honeymoon stage, the one-year "was this just a phase?" stage, the seven-year itch, and the pleasing round numbers of 10 and 15 years.
So it's understandable that many longtime Daily Show viewers are taking the end of Jon Stewart's time at the desk a little personally. The internet is stacked with eulogies and remembrances, tributes and sendoffs for the guy who's been letting them turn their outrage over to someone else, even if just for 20 minutes, since 1999.
But the way people are talking about Stewart leaving The Daily Show makes it sound like The Daily Show is leaving with him when he bows out on August 6, and that's just not true.
Yes, South African comedian Trevor Noah will debut at the desk on September 28, and he has indeed promised to pivot away from the show's usual target of cable news and toward online media. But he and others involved with the show have insisted that general spirit of The Daily Show won't stray too far from the one people are preemptively mourning.
Even though Stewart's name was on the door, he was never the entirety of The Daily Show. The team behind it will remain largely the same — including, according to Comedy Central, all the current correspondents. There has been some serious turnover in the recent years, including longtime correspondents Samantha Bee and Jason Jones's defection to TBS. But as Stewart's been winding down, his writing team and slate of correspondents have been turning out consistently sharp commentary.
Here are seven reasons besides Noah (in no particular order) to care about a Jon Stewart–less Daily Show.
1) Jessica Williams
Fans were disappointed when Jessica Williams confirmed that she wouldn't be taking over The Daily Show, but if she took over the desk, we'd be deprived of her singular presence in the field. The 25-years-old's segments have been some of the show's best (not to mention most viral) thanks to her cutting delivery on issues like street harassment and racial profiling. Williams, the first African-American woman to be a full-time correspondent on the show, has also developed a way of calling out Stewart for outdated logic with fondness, like she's educating an eager-to-please if out-of-touch uncle. She'll have to adjust that banter when 31-year-old Noah takes over, but her voice is so strong that there's no way a format change can stifle it.
Strengths: Highlighting racial and gendered violence, calling people out, dancing like everybody's watching and nobody cares.
2) Jordan Klepper
Klepper struggled at first to find his place on The Daily Show when he was brought in to replace John Oliver, but he has since settled nicely into one of my favorite characters: the oblivious privileged white guy. Where Jason Jones was an aggressive frat bro, Klepper's version is his dopey but well-meaning recruit. Klepper is especially good when he's acting opposite Jessica Williams's straight talk, like this standout piece they did together on campus sexual assault.
Strengths: Playing oblivious and/or privileged, nervous laughter, strong tie game.
3) Aasif Mandvi
Mandvi has been with the show since 2006, and though he now primarily acts in comedies like HBO's The Brink, he's still one of the best interviewers on the Daily Show staff. He seems perpetually gobsmacked, like he can't quite believe what he's hearing but, hey, he needs to hear it. He's more sarcastic than most of the correspondents on this list, which helps him when he needs to handle a particularly difficult subject. His straightforward approach and incredulous looks to the camera are solid additions to interviews that threaten to devolve into circuses.
Strengths: Interviews, finely tuned radar for nonsense, a stellar "did you really want to go there?" grimace.
4) Hasan Minhaj
Minhaj (hired at the same time as Noah) came to the show from standup comedy, and it shows. He might not have quite as strong a character as the other correspondents, but he's patient and confident enough with punchlines to barrel through them, letting the jokes fly by in escalating absurdity before the bit finally crystallizes. When Minhaj drops some knowledge, he tends to look at the camera with a raised eyebrow like he's challenging you to fight back but knows you won't. When I watch a Minhaj segment, it feels like I'm on the receiving end of the most intellectual version there is of "come at me, bro."
Strengths: Quick delivery, laissez-faire confidence, perfect hair.
5) Al Madrigal
Madrigal, who has been with the show since 2011, manages to straddle the line between the show's arch disdain and cartoonish outrage with ease. His dry, laconic delivery should pair nicely with Noah's amused deadpan. The Senior Latino Correspondent also finds success leaning in and out of stereotypes as he calls out racist panic, which should serve him well in the upcoming election cycle.
Strengths: Ability to establish an easy rapport with just about anyone, glasses.
6) Kristen Schaal
Since Schaal joined The Daily Show in 2008, she has become one of the most recognizable voices in comedy — literally. She currently lends her distinctive yowl to cartoons Bob's Burgers, Gravity Falls, and BoJack Horseman, and she is a regular on Will Forte's awesomely weird Fox experiment The Last Man on Earth. She's no less restrained on The Daily Show, where she taps in occasionally to tackle Lady Issues. Her segments, which play off ludicrous stereotypes of women and Schaal's ability to widen her eyes into a real life "who, me?" Betty Boop cartoon are reliably hysterical.
Strengths: Total commitment to any ridiculous bit, unsettling hyper energy, delivering complex rants without missing a beat, and/or opportunity to put down sexists.
7) Future The Daily Show With Trevor Noah correspondents
Many have said it, but that doesn't make it less true: The Daily Show alumni network is stacked with astonishing careers. Just check out the above video, produced by Digg. Correspondents have included comedians that have gone on to huge success in movies, television, and beyond. Stephen Colbert and Larry Wilmore spun their own shows off The Daily Show to make the satirical news show a Comedy Central franchise. Steve Carell is one of the most reliable draws in show business, and his wife, Nancy Walls, was also a correspondent in the Craig Kilborn era. Other Daily Show alums include comedians Rob Riggle, Rob Corddry, his brother Nate Corddry, Demetri Martin, Wyatt Cenac, Olivia Munn, Mo Rocca, Ed Helms, and on and on the list goes. Really, the only other show that rivals The Daily Show's roster of famous comedic alumni is Saturday Night Live. There's a hell of a lot of comedic talent out there, and even if the show's title changes, there's no reason to believe that Trevor Noah's version wouldn't try to keep up the tradition.