Williams viable for Daily Show

Madelyn Schorr

Two weeks ago Jon Stewart announced he would be leaving “The Daily Show” later this year. At first, I was hoping it was part of an elaborate plot to ensure some sort of Stewart/Colbert 2016 presidential ticket. But like everyone else I soon realized his departure was not a joke and his 16-year run was coming to a close.

In high school, my family would gather around our television to watch “The Daily Show” every night. We would watch Stewart take down big business, bad government practices and Fox News with classically comforting, self-deprecating humor. He calmed our nerves as we entered what seemed to be one piece of bad news after another. He called out people who needed to be called out and raised the profiles of people who were doing great work instead of chasing A-list celebrities like Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie. Over the years “The Daily Show” has become an institution, Stewart choosing to amuse his audience rather than inflict them with a sense of fear.

As Comedy Central looks for a replacement, they should look for a young, fresh talent who speaks to a new generation. In the upcoming movie “Hot Tub Time Machine 2,” the characters travel to the year 2025 and notice a familiar face hosting “The Daily Show” on television. It was none other than one of Stewart’s current correspondents, Jessica Williams. Now, I don’t necessarily expect this to be a particularly enlightening movie, but choosing this dynamic woman to head the show was a genius move if I’ve ever seen one. As a correspondent, she covered issues as diverse as racial profiling by law enforcement officers, catcalling and sexual assault on college campuses. Her segments are two parts fun and one part “oh hell no, we need to stop this.” Williams has proven she is more than capable of being both knock-out hilarious and incredibly intelligent while handling hot-button issues. Her quick wit and personalized style of comedy is a shift from Stewart’s style, but it’s a risk Comedy Central should take.

Williams recently did a segment on Alabama HB 494. This is a parental consent law that allows the family or state to send a minor to court for obtaining an abortion without consent. It also allows the fetus to be represented by a lawyer in the court. During the segment she interviewed a state-appointed attorney who advocated for fetuses in court. At one point during her sly bashing of the attorney, she managed to elicit this beautiful response: “Well, of course if you’ve got an unborn child in somebody else’s womb, I cannot communicate with them directly. You know better than to ask the question.” Indeed, she certainly knew something. Williams exposed the ridiculousness of a “fetus lawyer” and also showed the hardships women often face when trying to gain access to reproductive healthcare.

Choosing Williams ensures that more stories focusing on women and underrepresented communities are at the front of one of late-night comedy’s most famous institutions. If selected, she would be the only woman of color on late-night television, giving the field some much-needed racial and gender diversity. If comedy shows want to remain relevant, they need to invest in women and people of color to give voices and stories that are normally forgotten a chance to stand in the spotlight.

Madelyn Schorr is a junior majoring in anthropology and art.