How The Daily Show and The Colbert Report got me to Graduate

The fall 2008 was a weird time in American Culture. It was a careful blend of fear and optimism. It was the start of “The Great Recession” yet most people would tell you that brighter days were just around the corner.

Coincidentally, 2008 was also the year that I graduated high school and subsequently began my college career. I didn’t realize it at the time but the narrative surrounding that change was very much the same. Things are scary now but if you hope, good change will come.

By the time 2009 rolled around I begin to realize how much snake oil I had just been sold. I won’t get into all the details now but just know that right out of the gate college was a disappointment for me. It was a time where I had never felt more alone or more lost.

There were only two things I could depend on and take comfort in. They were The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report.

At the time didn’t have cable in my dorm room so I would also need to wait until the next day to watch those shows. My daily routine was wake up, go to class, watch The Daily Show, watch The Colbert Report, count down the hours until a new episode was waiting for me. One hour a day was all I needed to get through the remaining twenty-three.

Jon Stewart likes to say that television is a one way form of communication. We all may know who he is and what he is saying but he doesn’t know who any of us are. Even so, that one hour a day made me feel like I had people who I could count on. Friends who provided some much needed catharsis.

I transferred after my freshman year and again after my sophomore year. Yet this pattern remained the same. Wake up, go to class, watch my two favorite shows, feel better, count down the hours, repeat.

The best days I had were days where I got to see them in person. I went to tapings and book signings and rallies. That’s when I felt the least alone for I was surrounded by those who share my habits and passion.

The worst times were the weeks where they went on hiatus. They were the most stressful time of my collegiate life. I didn’t care about midterms or finals. I’d see my grade and shrug and then never think about it again. But having a day without Jon and Stephen? That’s what truly terrified me.

My senior year of college I had the privilege to intern for Comedy Central. One day I was told to find a clip of Jon saying “Don’t be douche. Clean up after yourself.” for a promo we were making. Without a doubt, that was the greatest assignment I have ever received and I have brought it up on nearly every interview I have gone on since, relevant or not.

My habitual consumption slowed down the following semester. After Comedy Central, I interned for The Late Show. It felt disloyal to work for one late night show while ritualistically watch another. Stephen Colbert did appear as guest during my time as an intern. He was mostly there to plug his show but he did show off his new children’s book. I made sure that I would be the one to take home the copy of the book he showed, and I still have it to this day.

Needless to say those final two semesters were far and away the best two semesters of my college career, but I was only able to have them because I got through the three previous years, and I was only got through them because of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report.

It’s strange to me that we’ll soon be a world where those don’t exist. I still can’t imagine getting through troubled times without those two shows in my life. I take comfort in knowing we’ll soon be getting Colbert for 220 minutes a week, rather than 88. And I take comfort in knowing Jon Stewart will go onto do something big and great, even if I don’t know what that is now.

Someone said once that television is a one way form of communication. I know who they are and how much they meant to me, even if they don’t know who I am or what they did for me, but I know there’s more to come from these guys. More they have to give. And I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.

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