For the past 16 years, we’ve tuned into Jon Stewart and The Daily Show to laugh at our country’s foibles and mistakes. But we’ve also turned to him when we need someone to vocalize the sadness and anger we experience after a national tragedy. Case in point: On Thursday night’s episode, the outgoing host commented on the South Carolina shootings in a stark, emotional monologue that eschewed jokes for serious commentary on the still-present legacy of racism in America and the cycle of violence it inspires, a cycle that, as Stewart puts it, the country seems unable or unwilling to address. “I have one job and it’s a pretty simple job: I come in in the morning, and look at the news and write jokes about it,” he remarked. “I honestly have nothing other than just sadness.” He later went on to add, “There is no nuance here. We’re going to keep pretending… but we are steeped in that culture in this country… and I can’t believe how hard people are working to discount that.” We already knew that we were going to miss Stewart when he signs off on Aug. 6, but this tour-de-force monologue only makes us dread that day more.
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart airs Mondays-Thursdays at 11 p.m. on Comedy Central.