Jon Stewart’s latest press tour has been a lot more entertaining and enlightening than his deeply disappointing new movie Irresistible. And Thursday night’s sit-down with Showtime’s Desus & Mero was no exception.
Until this week, Desus Nice and The Kid Mero had been on hiatus for more than a month, which means they missed out on covering the police killing of George Floyd and the height of the protests that followed. So they asked Stewart how he dealt with being off the air for major events, like Hurricane Katrina, when he was hosting The Daily Show.
“Sometimes, it would work in your favor,” Stewart said, explaining that he had a chance to “process and digest” major events before he was forced to make comedy out of them. “But there were times like after Charleston or Eric Garner or Ferguson, where you’d be on the next night or that night,” he said. In those cases, he said, “You would just have to be raw.”
“So much of what you guys do and what we did is, it’s a refinery,” he continued. “And you’re taking in, sometimes, relatively toxic materials and you’re trying to put them through this refinery and bring them out in a way that’s meaningful but still has some inspiration and joy to it.” There were times when he “couldn't muster it” and instead projected “soul-sucking sadness.”
From there, Mero talked about how they feel “personally responsible” for giving “people that look like us a break,” or as Desus put it, some “levity.”
“Listen, I know that burden and the onus that puts on you,” Stewart said before offering some advice. “The only thing I would say is, you’re doing it and forgive yourselves.” Then he turned introspective. “I always felt like I tried to forgive myself for not being able to—the instinct is, you want to solve it. The instinct is, you want what you do to matter. And you kind of have to reconcile that there is a role for what we do, but it’s not one of transformation.”
“Transformation is work,” he added. “It’s on the street, that’s over a generation, that’s going into the mines.” Stewart assured them that the impact they are trying to have on their community, they are already having. “You’re doing it,” he said. “So mission accomplished.”
“You mean that in a good way and not in a George Bush-on-a-ship way?” Desus joked.
Later in the interview, the pair asked Stewart to share his prediction for the 2020 election.
“We’ll probably get a president. It’ll probably happen around November,” Stewart deadpanned. “Anybody who tells you that they know anything else other than that is lying.”
For more, listen to Desus Nice and The Kid Mero on The Last Laugh podcast.