There's no perfect way to wrap a late night show because perfection is impossible in all human endeavors, especially late night TV. Speaking of which -- who does Jon Stewart think he is anyway.
That's nothing. Jay Leno lasted a quarter of a century. David Letterman longer. Johnny Carson ... right. Him too.
Late night TV runs are supposed to go on forever, or at least go on until a number like "30" or "25" or "20" is reached. It then feels like something important has been accomplished, a landmark reached, a milestone surpassed.
But "16. " What kind of number is that. It's a teenager number -- the kind of number that songs are written about, or the word "sweet" goes in front of.
Stewart wrapped 16 years Thursday night (and what kind of night is Thursday to wrap a late night show ... Don't get me started.). But for fans, friends, and "fellow travelers" -- a term his harshest critics would appreciate -- Thursday and 16 years were just about perfect. There was something absolutely right about this dog-days-of-summer endgame, almost opposite a Republican debate headlined by the guy that Stewart has lived off for the past 16 years.
That guy, Trump.
Stewart did in fact save his best for last because he officially and emphatically clarified what these last 16 years have been about, as far as he was concerned -- which is all that really matters when you have your own late night TV show.
In what could politely be called his apologia, a five-minute long endnote, he established that he was done with this late night business (for now) and that the rest was up to YOU -- as in, it's up to you to find out who the baloney peddlers are, and up to YOU to figure out who is spinning who and why they are doing the spinning (and who's getting spun).
It's up to YOU to be skeptical of TV, and politicians, and spin doctors, and everyone else out there who has a vested interest in securing your money, or your opinion or your vote.
Stewart, of course, has had his own agenda -- a barely disguised liberal one -- and he's done plenty of spinning himself. But that was his prerogative, and in fact, his right. He had as much right to say what he believed in and as much right to talk about the many issues he comedically disemboweled over these last 16 years as Sean Hannity does or Bill O'Reilly did or does.
He never once demanded that their voices should be silenced -- or that anyone's voice should be silenced.
Only that his voice should be heard, too.
Preferably with a joke appended.
His final broadcast was a testament to all this -- and a testament to the staff that helped make him so excellent over these years, too. Generosity is a good way to close a great run. It's an even better way to close out the run with Bruce Springsteen by your side.
It was sweet 16 indeed. And pretty darned near perfect, too.