The final Daily Show with Jon Stewart was full of emotion and heartfelt sentiment—to guard against bullshit. After segments showcasing correspondents from the past 16 years and a Goodfellas-inspired bit about his production team, Stewart told the audience to be steadfast and aware, "Bullshit is everywhere... If you smell something, say something."
At the beginning of the program, Stewart referred to the Republican debate and had his current correspondents, Jessica Williams, Hasan Minhaj and Jordan Klepper, "live" from Cleveland, which each covering a candidate. But with the clown car of GOP hopefuls, former correspondents started to appear to help out: Aasif Mandvi, Al Madrigal, Lewis Black, Kristen Schaal, Samantha Bee, John Hodgman and Steve Carrell.
Then other old-timers appeared, even ones who were only on the program for two weeks: Vance DeGeneres, Mo Rocca, Dave Attell, Dan Bakkedahl, Matt Walsh, Larry Wilmore (who complained how his show was bumped, "Black shows matters"), Jason Jones, Josh Gad (who sang, "Do you want to build a show, man?"), Rob and Nate Corddry, Michael Che, Olivia Munn (who thought Stewart was turning 70), Rob Riggle and Ed Helms. New host Trevor Noah also swung by, to measure the desk.
Some of Stewart's famous targets said farewell— Arby's CEO Paul Brown ("Jon Stewart: It's like the TV threw up on your face"), Chris Christie, Charlie Rangel ("Good riddance, smart ass"), Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton, Rahm Emanuel, John Kerry, Bill O'Reilly ("Have fun feeding your rabbits, quitter"), Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, Wolf Blitzer and John McCain ("So long, jackass").
Wyatt Cenac, who recently revealed some past conflict with Stewart, did show up, and the two asked each other, "Are you good?" There was Gitmo, John Oliver, and, finally, Stephen Colbert, who forced Stewart to allow him to say thank you:
"It will be quick if you just hold still. You said to me and many other people here never to thank you because we owe you nothing. It is one of the few times I've known you to be dead wrong. ...
We owe you because we learned from you by example how to do a show with intention, how to work with clarity, how to treat people with respect. You were infuriatingly good at your job. All of us who were lucky enough to work for you—and you can edit this out later—... are better at our jobs because we got to watch you do yours. And we are better people for having known you.
You are a great artist and a good man—and personally, I do not know how this [pointing to himself] son of a poor Appalachian turd miner... I do not know what i would do if you hadn't brought me onto your show—i'd be back in those hills, mining turds with Pappy!
I know you are not asking for this, [but] on behalf of so many people whose lives you've changed over the past 16 years, thank you.
Vigilance is important, Stewart said in one part, against bullshit, which comes in "three flavors," including, "Making bad things sound like good things," "hiding things under mountains of bullshit," and "bullshit of infinite possibility" ("We can't take action climate change until everyone in the world agrees that gay marriage vaccines cause our children to marry goats who come for our guns"). On the upside, Stewart reflected, "bullshitters are getting lazy."
After thanking his staff and the viewers profusely, Stewart closed out with his Moment of Zen: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, playing at Stewart's request, "Land of Hopes and Dreams," and then "Born to Run."