You Might Not Like What Jon Stewart Has to Tell You

“Why am I back?” asked Jon Stewart, returning to “The Daily Show” chair as Monday night host after leaving the program in 2015. It was a fair question.

He was there in part because Comedy Central ended a yearlong search unable to pick a full-time replacement for Trevor Noah. He was there because his Apple TV+ show “The Problem” ended, after Apple discovered that when you hire a famous political comedian, he’ll want to talk about topics that upset people.

And he was there because his fans — including a studio audience that greeted him with a standing ovation — have spent eight years and change wondering what he would have said about all the hell that broke loose since he left.

His timing was so sharp, his comic exasperation so familiar, you’d think he’d been away for a long weekend instead of more than two presidential terms. Now he was back to tell us that the two likely candidates for president are super, super old.

It was not exactly the most daring, outside-the-box topic. Stewart, who has adopted a plant-based diet, apparently has a particular taste for low-hanging fruit.

More interesting, however, was the implicit message his first new monologue built to. You may have spent years wishing that Stewart would come back to dunk on your antagonists, but he considers himself free — and maybe obligated — to joke about things you wish he wouldn’t.

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