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Jon Stewart’s ‘The Daily Show’ comeback feels like he never left: ‘I’m excited to be back’

By Brian Lowry, CNN

(CNN) — Jon Stewart received an extended ovation from the studio audience Monday as he returned to “The Daily Show” after more than eight years away, before deadpanning, in what felt like a nod to early talk-show host Jack Paar’s famous return to “The Tonight Show” after an absence, “Where was I?”

Scheduled to host one day a week and produce the show, Stewart said, “I’m excited to be back,” joking that he had opted to return to the Comedy Central franchise because, “From what I understand, talk-show hosts are granted immunity.”

From there, it was as if Stewart had never left, as he segued into routines about the Super Bowl – which, pitting the Taylor Swift-backed Kansas City Chiefs against the San Francisco 49ers, he called “kind of a no-win for conservatives” – and setting up the next nine months leading up to the election, or “Indecision 2024,” while trying out comedic subtitles like “American Demockcracy.”

Stewart devoted a significant portion of the show to questions regarding the ages of President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, who, at 81 and 77, respectively, would be the oldest pair ever to face off for the presidency.

Stewart joked about Biden’s appearance on TikTok and his recent press conference in the wake of special counsel Robert Hur’s report, which included comments regarding Biden’s memory. He then played a medley of clips featuring Trump and his children saying they couldn’t remember things in taped depositions.

Addressing the issue of ageism, Stewart yelled, “They’re objectively old!” He then closed the segment, as he often used to do, on a more serious note, telling viewers to buckle up for the months leading up to the election, but that the work necessary to make the world a better place didn’t boil down to a single day.

Of the election, Stewart said he learned in his time away, “You have to worry about every day before it, and every day after, forever.”

With the show running about 15 minutes past its scheduled time, Stewart then shifted to share the spotlight with the show’s correspondents, engaging in an amusing exchange with Dulcé Sloan, who said of Biden and Trump, “We need more than just the same show with an older but familiar face.” That prompted a long comedic pause from Stewart, playfully wondering if she was referencing his encore behind the desk, which Comedy Central is promoting as a “second term.”

Jordan Klepper will host the show for the rest of this week.

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