The Daily Show studio audience members who thought they were getting a seat at one of Jon Stewart’s last nights hosting a late-night comedy program were in for a bit of a surprise last night when he announced there would be no comedy:

“I have one job and it’s a pretty simple job. I come in in the morning and we look at the news and we write some jokes about it. And then I make a couple faces and a noise, and then it’s just ka-ching and I’m out the door,” he began.

Audience laughed.

“But I didn’t do my job today, so I apologize. I got nothing for you in terms of jokes and sounds…”

Audience laughed, but more nervously.

“…because of what happened in South Carolina. And maybe if it wasn’t so near the end of the run, or this wasn’t such a common occurrence, I could have pulled out of the spiral — but I didn’t. So I honestly have nothing, other than just sadness, once again, that we have to peer into the abyss of the depraved violence that we do to each other, and the nexus of a gaping racial wound that will not heal, yet we pretend does not exist.”

By then, the studio audience realized they are in for something different.

Stewart added he was confident that by acknowledging that “and seeing it for what is is, we still won’t do jack sh*t. Yeah. That’s us.”

Audience made uncomfortable noises.

“What blows my mind is the disparity of response between when we think people that are foreign are going to kill us and us killing ourselves.”

“And you know it,”  Stewart said, pointing at viewers via the camera. “You know it’s going to go down the same path: ‘This is a terrible tragedy’. They’re already using the nuanced language of lack of effort for this….I heard someone on the news say, ‘Tragedy has visited this church’. This wasn’t a tornado. This was a racist. This was a guy with a Rhodesia badge on his sweater…And we’re going to keep pretending like, ‘I don’t get it, what happened? There’s one guy lost his mind.’ But we are steeped in that culture in this country and we refuse to recognize it, and I can’t believe how hard people are working to discount it.”