Last night was Jon Stewart’s last day as host of “The Daily Show” until Sept. 4 — he’s taking a 12-week break to direct a film — and he dedicated much of the show to telling his viewers how the project came about.
By the way, don’t worry, you won’t be forced to endure a summer of reruns. With Stewart gone, the very British John Oliver will temporarily serve as host, which Stewart promised will make the show “much classier.”
So here’s how it all started. In 2009 “The Daily Show” sent correspondent Jason Jones to Iran, for a series called “Behind the Veil,” to find out how the actual people of this so-called “Axis of Evil” country live and what they think of America.
One of the people Jones interviewed was Iranian-born journalist Maziar Bahari. It was classic “Daily Show,” Jones playing the ignoramus, Bahari speaking seriously, about how, for example, Al Qaeda is not only an enemy of the United States but also of Iran. He also broke the news to Jones that in Iran they speak Farsi, not Arabic.
A week after the segment aired, Bahari was arrested in Tehran without a charge. After the presidential election in Iran, many people got arrested, Stewart explained. Bahari was held in solitary confinement for three months; he was also tortured and interrogated.
“One of the things he was interrogated about,” Stewart added, “was being in contact with an American spy.” The spy in question was Jason Jones, who beside not being a spy is Canadian. (You may also be wondering why said spy would have his meeting broadcast to a national audience and online.)
Anyway, after an international campaign demanding his release, Bahari was freed. He ended up writing a book about his experience, “Then They Came for Me,” which became a best seller.
Stewart went on to befriend Bahari, and the two wrote a screenplay together. Stewart will direct the film this summer in the Middle East.
“In truth,” Stewart deadpanned, “great literature is not great literature until it’s been made into a movie.”
And even though Jon Stewart will be gone for the summer, he’ll still be “checking in with Johnny Oliver, making sure he’s feeding my plants and watering my children.”
Check out the clips below, courtesy of Comedy Central: