• Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Jon Stewart's 'Daily Show' Farewell: What You Didn't See on TV

Ethan Alter
·Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

No media types were permitted in the Daily Show studio to witness Jon Stewart’s final Moment of Zen. But during the taping of Stewart’s last hurrah, Yahoo TV was sequestered just down the block in the studio that formerly housed The Colbert Report and is now Larry Wilmore’s Nightly Show domain. From that vantage point, we watched as Stewart was saluted by his past correspondents (including Steve Carell, John Oliver, Rob Corddry, Ed Helms and, yes, Stephen Colbert) and ridiculed by some politicians and media personalities (among them past presidential candidate John McCain, current presidential candidates Lindsey Graham and Chris Christie, and CNN’s own Wolf Blitzer). 

But we also observed some things that didn’t appear in the final broadcast. Here are some behind-the-scenes highlights from Stewart’s last Daily Show that made an already-special night extra special.

Anticipation Is Keeping Us Waiting

Stewart’s final show began almost a half-hour late, probably because it took that long for that ridiculously large group of past and present correspondents to assemble inside the Daily Show’s West Side studio. But once things got underway, the laughter and cheers started immediately, both in their studio and ours. The current trio of correspondents — Jessica Williams, Hasan Minhaj, and Jordan Klepper — received solid applause, but that increased in volume as the parade of past favorites entered the frame to help them “cover” the Republican debate, reaching a crescendo when Steve and Nancy Carell (née Walls) both made their appearance. “I never left Jon,” Steve said. “Becoming an international superstar was just something I did while waiting for my next assignment.”

That line led to even more correspondent cameos, each one getting a bigger response than the last. Not to play favorites, but in our studio, Larry Wilmore, Trevor Noah, Ed Helms, and, of course, Stephen Colbert (who killed with his Lord of the Rings bit and off-prompter praise of Stewart) got the most applause. 

There were also audible gasps during Craig Kilborn’s taped appearance. Can you blame us? After all, who knew that the producers would be able to find the bunker that the original Daily Show host has been hiding in.

Related: Ken Tucker Reviews Jon Stewart’s Final ‘Daily Show’: A Funny Long Goodbye

Hug It Out

During the first commercial break, the correspondents surrounded Jon onstage, and took turns giving him hugs. Stewart’s successor, Trevor Noah, was part of the scrum, and the outgoing host threw his arms around the new kid on the block. (Clearly, all was forgiven for Noah daring to measure the set — and Jon’s crotch — as he prepares to inherit the program.)

Stewart also gave a lingering hug to Wyatt Cenac, a surprise appearance considering recent comments he had made about his troubled departure from The Daily Show on Marc Maron’s podcast, WTF. (The two subtly acknowledged that incident during Cenac’s on-camera cameo with the whole “You good”/“I’m good” exchange — that’s the way Maron signs off many of his interviews.) 

Nate Corddry and Lewis Black were the last two to leave the stage as a visibly moved Stewart sat down to prepare for the next segment.

Related: Watch 16 Memorable Moments From 'The Daily Show With Jon Stewart’

This (Isn’t) the End

Because The Daily Show isn’t built for live music, there was some set-up involved before the big Bruce Springsteen show that sent Stewart into (temporary, we hope) retirement after he issued one last invitation for viewers to meet him at Camera 3 and launched into a Network-style sermon about navigating the bulls–t of this topsy-turvy world and said his heartfelt “thank you”s. So during the next-to-last commercial break, Jon got on the mic and informed the audience that he’d be giving that earnest sign-off first and then leaving the stage to make way for Bruce. “I’m going to say ‘Goodnight’ here, and something will happen over there,” he explained helpfully to the studio audience. “It might seem a little disjointed, but tonight when you run home to see what you just saw, it will look great.” (He was right — that long pause between Stewart’s goodbye and the Springsteen concert vanished completely from the version of the show that aired.) He also warned, “At some point during this musical performance, you may see a lot of people run onto the floor. Those individuals work here, so let that go.” Jon Stewart: ruining the magic behind the television you watched since 1999.

Shake Your Groove Thang

As you saw, the Boss lived up to his name, powering through performances of “Land of Hope and Dreams” (a personal request from Stewart) and “Born to Run,” during which, as promised, people hit the floor to dance. If you looked closely, you saw Stewart boogeying with his daughter as Springsteen sang about “tramps like us,” and Aasif Mandvi filming the concert with his iPhone. It’s great that Comedy Central let the show run even longer than expected so viewers could watch Stewart give each member of the E Street Band a bear hug after the last strains of “Born to Run” faded out, and then drummer (and former late night personality) Max Weinberg gift him with his drumsticks. Looking like a kid on Christmas morning (um… make that Hanukkah eve), the Jersey boy approached Springsteen’s microphone and said simply, “Thank you. Goodnight.” That may not be the most flowery farewell, but there was no doubt that it came from the heart.

Related: The Legacy of Jon Stewart: Making 'Fake News’ Real

Born to Run

If you think the party stopped after the lights switched off and the cameras faded to black, you’d be wrong. The excitement surrounding Jon Stewart’s goodbye quickly spilled out onto the New York streets. Exiting the Nightly Show studio, we saw a black sedan speed by and screech to a halt at a red light. Suddenly, a crew of teenage boys jumped out of a following vehicle clutching Springsteen memorabilia (including what appeared to be a vinyl copy of Born in the U.S.A.) and ran up to the sedan, banging on the windows trying to catch the singer’s attention. The light turned green, Springsteen’s car sped up, and the teens hopped back in their ride and peeled away, staying on his tail like James Bond pursuing Blofeld. Good luck with that, kids.

Meanwhile, outside the Daily Show studio, hordes of eager onlookers stood by the side door to cheer exiting performers. Colbert and Carell emerged together and climbed into the same town car, while writers and crew members boarded a bus, presumably bound for an epic after party. The last person to leave, fittingly enough, was Stewart, who exited his home of 16 years to cheers and flashbulbs and climbed into a sedan with his family. As he drove off, the crowd chanted “Jon, Jon, Jon, Jon,” walking alongside the car until it crossed 11th Avenue and headed into the night. To quote the Foo Fighters, there goes our hero — watch him as he goes.