Former Daily Show host Jon Stewart was feted in Washington, D.C. Sunday night by a host of celebrities, there to pay tribute as he accepted the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
It was the first presentation of the award since 2019, when Dave Chappelle received it. The comic was among those who showed up to honor Stewart, saying of his stewardship of The Daily Show after 9/11, “The news was off the chain and Jon was the only voice that helped people decipher that madness.”
In accepting the prize, Stewart noted, “There’s a lot of talk about what’s going to happen to comedy — you know, ‘the Slap’ — and will comedy survive in this new moment? Comedy survives in every moment.”
Referencing his bust of Twain, Stewart added, “This man’s decapitated visage is a reminder that what we have is fragile and precious.”
Stewart also said of using comedy to speak truth to power, “The real threat is not the fragility of audiences” or “the pronoun police,” but rather, “the fragility of leaders.”
Others who took part in the ceremony included Jimmy Kimmel and former Daily Show correspondent Olivia Munn, there with her partner, comedian John Mulaney. Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson were also there, with Pete also serving as one of the night’s guest speakers.
Other Daily Show vets, including Samantha Bee and Stephen Colbert also spoke; the latter appeared remotely thanks to his recent COVID-19 diagnosis.
Gary Clark Jr. acted as the award ceremony’s house band, and Stewart’s fellow Garden Stater Bruce Springsteen joined the blues musician for “Come Together.” Springsteen also played an acoustic version of “Born to Run,” according to accounts.
An edited version of the awards ceremony will air June 21 at 9 p.m. on PBS.
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