Jon Stewart spent his summer hiatus directing his first film, "Rosewater," a true story about a London-based journalist who was detained and brutally interrogated in 2009 while reporting on Iran's presidential election.
So, you'd think that after his first summer off in nearly 15 years, Stewart would be eager to dig into some of the major stories he missed while on location. Which, of course, he did with a series of segments on the conflict in Syria on Tuesday night's return show.
But, first things first. When fill-in correspondent John Oliver went to greet Stewart in the show's opening bit, he found his old friend sporting a shaggy beard and speaking in unintelligible Arabic. Perplexed, Oliver attempted to bring back the "real" Stew Beef.
"Jon's back, but I think the Middle East has changed him," Oliver told fellow correspondent Jessica Williams. "He's not even acting American. Get a defibrillator ... and two Big Macs."
The shock to the chest seemed to do the trick ... except they went too far and Stewart popped back up as a redneck comedian in a sleeveless plaid shirt and camo hat ranting about Obamacare and Paula Deen. After several other attempts — which turned Stewart into an ancient Jewish prophet, a British scholar, Smurf and late Queen singer Freddie Mercury — it seemed like Oliver and Williams had the right formula.
That is, until Stewart emerged sporting pig tails and wearing a flesh-colored leotard, rubbing his nether regions with a foam finger and sticking out his tongue. Yes, even with all the hand-wringing over Syria and the upcoming October 1 deadline to roll out the insurance marketplaces for the president's signature health care legislation, it seemed Stewart couldn't help himself when it came to nodding to the most talked-about moment at this year's VMAs: Miley Cyrus' tongue-wagging, "history"-making twerkathon .
Since nothing else was working, the pair had to pick up the red phone and bring in "the fixer," Stewart pal Stephen Colbert. Thankfully, the fellow late night host was able to restore his friend to his regularly-scheduled, clean-shaven self. "OK, let's do this," Stewart said as he emerged with a smile.
Good to have you back, Jon.