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15 Things We Love About 'The Daily Show'

by AOL TV Staff, posted Jul 22nd 2011 12:30PM
The Daily ShowToday marks the 15th anniversary of 'The Daily Show.' Yes, our favorite nightly news parody program is all grown up. Luckily the humor isn't showing its age -- it's often still just as infantile and hilarious as the day the show premiered.

Of course Jon Stewart wasn't always the host -- remember the Craig Kilborn days? -- but he's held the desk since 1999 and will forever be the best in the political satire game.

In honor of the show's epic achievement, with over 2,000 episodes, more than 70 correspondents and special contributors and 15 years of telling it like it is, we're counting down the 15 Things We Love About 'The Daily Show,' in no particular order.

[Editor's note: It was hard to limit this to 15. Here's to 15 more good years!]

Silver fox Jon Stewart1. Stewart's hair
Look at a picture of Jon Stewart from 1999 and what's the first thing you notice? That jet-black butt-cut that makes him look like just another schmucky comedian. But somewhere along the line, the guy acquired a serious measure of silver-fox gravitas, without succumbing to the eternal-'80s blowdry that makes it impossible to believe that Brian Williams actually listens to the Fleet Foxes or whatever.

2. The caliber of guests is unparalleled
Where can you get humor author David Sedaris one day and President Barack Obama the next? If you say 'Oprah Winfrey Show' you'd be right, if the show was still on. The other location? 'Daily Show.' The series has a way of attracting big names, and Stewart is a master at conducting an entertaining interview, even with the most boring celebs.

3. We miss him when he's gone
There's really nothing worse than 'The Daily Show' being on hiatus when something major happens, is there?

Jason Jones at the White House4. Actually learning something
In this day and age of reality TV and mind-numbing late-night "talk" shows, everything seems scripted and pre-programmed. With Stewart, we know we're getting the real deal. And isn't it amazing? When we flip off the TV after watching 'The Daily Show,' there are actually a couple new nuggets of knowledge sitting in our brains.

5. Samantha Bee's Al Jazeera English clip
Hands down one of the best 'Daily Show' segments ever, it's the pinnacle of all we love about the series. You have Samantha Bee, smart satire, sick beats ("fingers clacking on a keyboard") and subjects who are willing to go along with it all. Perfection.

6. Opening theme
How many TV shows can claim that their opening theme songs were recorded by early-'90s proto-hipsters They Might Be Giants? OK, quite a few, as it turns out. But how many of those theme songs were written by Bob Mould of Husker Du? Not many, we'd wager! 'Dog on Fire' packs more pop-punky goodness into 30 seconds than most Ramones knockoff bands produce in the span of their careers.

Stephen Colbert7. It's a great launching pad for stars
Where would the entertainment world be without 'The Daily Show' and its talented former correspondents? The series has helped launch the careers of Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell and so many more. Who's next? Our bet's on John Oliver, but we honestly hope they all stay right where they are.

8. The crack team of researchers
We can barely remember what we ate for breakfast, but the factoid sponges on Stewart's writing staff seem to literally remember every word anyone has ever spoken. Politicians, don't you dare contradict yourself, even after decades of making a statement. And Glenn Beck, you better not waffle on hot-button issues. If you do, rest assured that you'll get a nice little smackdown on 'The Daily Show.'

Samantha Bee9. Samantha Bee
As one of the lone females in Stewart's stable of correspondents, Sam always brings the funny and never fails to shock us with seemingly out-of-character commentary.

10. When Stewart takes the show on the road
Some of the most entertaining 'Daily Show' moments have come when Stewart ventures into enemy territory, taking his show's perspective outside the friendly confines of Comedy Central to mix it up with the targets of his satire in person. It started when he epically called out Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson on 'Crossfire,' and has continued with a run of jovial yet combative segments on Fox News, with Bill O'Reilly and Chris Wallace, in which he's ripped them to shreds on their home turf.

11. Video mashups
'The Daily Show''s crack team of video researchers wades through countless hours of cable news dreck each day, fishing out only the choicest nuggets of groupthink buffoonery for the entertainment and, yes, edification of people who have better stuff to do all day. If you can identify the cadence of Glenn Beck's voice and do not sleep in a bunker buried under your backyard, chances are you have these guys to thank.

Stewart's signature smirk12. The Jon Stewart "smirk"
You know the one. The best part about it is that we're often making the exact same face at home on our couches.

13. His interview style
Stewart's skills as an interviewer have matured over time, and he's grown into a versatile conversationalist who's more than capable of having hilarious, thought-provoking, challenging sit-downs with newsmakers who are occasionally too naive to understand that they aren't doing "just" a comedy show. Whether it's Jim Cramer, Donald Rumsfeld or, more recently, former president of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf, Stewart rarely backs down from power and never misplaces his BS detector.

14. He makes fun of the left, too
It's no secret that Republicans have been the butt of more Stewart jokes than Democrats, but Stewart does rip on the left, too. The reality is, he's a comedian who goes where the laughs take him, and he's fearless in mocking both sides of the aisle whenever they deserve it -- which in today's political landscape, is often.

15. Self-deprecation
Just when Stewart's on an unstoppable roll of great impressions, smart digs and over-the-top reenactments, he'll often stop just to remind us that we weren't always such a willing audience for his shtick. We actually wish we had a mash-up of all the times he's brought up 'Death to Smoochy' on the show.

Yeah, we didn't even get close to cracking the surface of what makes 'The Daily Show' so great -- there's just too much! So please, share your own favorite things about the show in the comments.

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I can tell what kind of people I'm with by mentioning The Daily Show. Once, I was photographing a political rally for a Tea Party candidate [who took 8 months to pay me, btw] and at the lunch table [with her strategist and finance people] I mentioned with a smile that I really like to get my news from Stewart and Colbert. SILENCE. Complete stillness. After letting that particular freak flag fly, it's no wonder I had to send bill collectors to collect my check...

July 26 2011 at 6:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Jon's rant re Donald Trump/Sarah Palin/New York pizza is so funny. Whenever I need a real laugh I bring up the June 1, 2011 show and watch it AGAIN. Wonderful!

July 23 2011 at 9:21 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
David Heiser

My list would include Jon Stewart's dead-on impressions of The Glen Beck show. Amazing.

It would also include the appearances of the R. Kelly guy.

And Wyatt Cenac's interviews with the old people in the Jewish retirement home. Priceless.

July 23 2011 at 3:08 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Great, Great show.

July 22 2011 at 11:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tony DiMeo

Will the daily show ever end? i certainly hope not but I do hope its streak of winning at the EMMYS every year ends this year

July 22 2011 at 10:45 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

Jon will use all sorts of linguistic, classic comedy and facial expression techniques to dismantle his targeted opponents.
An example of his targeted denigration power was the recent snippet he directed at Herman Cain.
Jon is a clever satirist, his resurrection of the old Amos & Andy shtick to marginalize Herman Cain a Black Republican presidential Candidate was strategic genius. I had thought that Amos & Andy type mockery was off limit 60 years later, but leave it up Jon to bring it back with ease.
For a funny man, the "Great Jon" does seem to be agitated and angry when he is asked questions instead of occupying his usual perch of targeting the foibles and politics of others.

July 22 2011 at 9:56 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
Ferenc Szabo

I hope they try a retro show or two, with the old music, old graphics, original correspondents. But with completely new topics of course.

July 22 2011 at 9:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jessica Lawrence

Oh, Jon. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways... "Hellooooooo!" (in his mock Queen Elizabeth voice)... The R Kelly impersonator... When Jon had the emergency responders from 9/11 to push the Zadroga Bill through... How Brian Williams and Jon are relentless with each other... The uber clever puns they use for the names for the bits... "This Week in God"... I could go on for days and days and just touch the tip if the iceberg.

Thank you, to Jon and his fantastic team! Your perspective, insight, and information have helped shape my and future generations, and you have kept us sane when the world around us is incomprehensible. Thanks for keeping us real, Stewbeef!

July 22 2011 at 7:25 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Jessica Lawrence

Oh, Jon. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways... Hellooooooo (in his mock Queen Elizabeth voice)... The R Kelly impersonator... How Brian Williams and Jon go at each other... The uber clever puns they use for the names for the bits... "This Week in God"... I could go on for days and days and just touch the tip if the iceberg.

July 22 2011 at 7:18 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

daily show is the best on tv

July 22 2011 at 7:07 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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