After 31 episodes as The Daily Show's interim host, John Oliver opened Thursday's show with the shocking revelation that he'd been lying about Jon Stewart's whereabouts all summer.
"Jon Stewart has been spending his summer in the Middle East directing a movie that he wrote," said Oliver — finally revealing the real reason for Stewart's absence after spending the summer offering explanations that ranged from "recovering from a state of the art procedure in which he switched faces with Nicolas Cage" to "waiting to emerge from Kate Middleton's vagina."
"This is my last show as interim host," said Oliver. "Stop hiding your joy!"
But Oliver really will be missed. The rest of his introduction, which also served as his goodbye to the hosting chair, served as a microcosm of the distinctive and versatile job Oliver did as Daily Show host this summer — a job that many had concluded no one but Stewart was qualified to do. On Thursday, Oliver went seamlessly from comedy to expressing his sympathies for those involved in the "horrifying events" in Egypt; promised that this would be the "final silly show of the summer"; offered a choice bit about guest Regis Philbin's oddball decision to kiss him on the forehead during the show's previous episode; and finally, recapped some of the news highlights from his 31 days as host (including gay marriage court decisions, Paula Deen racism revelations, and some little-covered story about a royal baby).
It'll be good to have Jon Stewart back when The Daily Show returns in September, but John Oliver did much more than kept his chair warm this summer — he offered a plausible alternative if Stewart ever decides to give up The Daily Show for good.