UPDATED WITH VIDEO: “I’ve missed you so much — you don’t know what it’s like out there in the real world. Nobody applauds every stupid fucking thing you do!” Jon Stewart said in his return to The Daily Show last night. Viewers, meanwhile, may still be missing Stewart. The comic–turned-fake news show faux-anchor returned from Jordan, where he spent a good chunk of the summer directing his first feature film, showing telltale signs of a comic who has been through a life-changing experience and feels he should be doing something more serious.
After an opening taped bit in which his summer substitute John Oliver discovered how changed Stewart is, and tried in vain to get back the old Jon — instead turning him into Moses, Freddie Mercury, Miley Cyrus at the VMAs, and Hitler — Stephen Colbert is brought in and, for script purposes, successfully exorcised Stewart, so The Daily Show could start. Stewart took his anchor chair and brought out Oliver to receive praise. Not that Oliver needs it. He got great reviews filling in for Stewart this summer, which must have been a comfort to Viacom Entertainment Group President Doug Herzog tonight, knowing there can be life after Stewart for The Daily Show. Not that Herzog’s making plans to replace Stewart — but it’s got to be nice to know The Daily Show won’t fall off a cliff should this new Stewart just back from Jordon decide it’s time to move on.
Related: John Oliver’s Farewell As Host Draws Lower Ratings: Video
Anyway, one Carlos Danger gag later, Oliver dumped the latest Syrian civilian massacre story in Stewart’s lap and leaves. “I was very much hoping that a big story would break during the commercial so I wouldn’t have to talk about Syria. It’s a dark story,” Stewart joked grimly. He jumped on it, but it’s more Sunday Beltway show than Comedy Central late-night franchise, dressed up as Uncle Jonny Stew’s Good Time Syria Jamboree. He tells a joke: “Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Syria walk into a bar called America Is Not Planning On Bombing You, and a bartender says, ‘I don’t think you should be in here, Syria’.”
Watch Jon Stewart’s return: