Stewart is in a more precarious position, for several reasons. He doesn't have a separate persona the way Colbert does, so he's forced to appear, essentially, as himself. And no matter what he does, it will displease someone.
He talked extensively about the strike, taking shots both at the AMPTP, whose claims of desperation and poverty he repeatedly ridiculed, and the WGA, whose artsy "Speechless" campaign he poked fun at for managing the incredibly difficult feat of rustling up the support of the always reticent Sean Penn. During his interview with a labor relations expert, Stewart strongly alluded to his frustration with the fact that he'd been unable to secure a side deal with the WGA as Letterman did. (Yes, the situations have differences; they also have similarities. Discuss!) I actually thought the discussion got pretty funny when Stewart asked the professional writer whether the different treatment might be the result of anti-Semitism. It sounds a lot more awkward, believe me, than it was in practice.
Colbert's show...look. I like Stephen Colbert very much. I think his show is terrific, and I've missed it. I don't like it as much as Stewart's show, precisely because the persona creates distance that keeps me from every being as satisfied as I am by a direct hit from Jon Stewart's actual gut. Nevertheless, I'm happy for Colbert that he's back, and he did choose to stay away from bellyaching about his own show's situation. But...dude. The ovation when he came out lasted for more than two full minutes, which was...ridiculous. Appreciative, but ridiculous. Ultimately, the show ran several minutes long, which undercuts the idea that they set up the two-minute ovation to fill, meaning it apparently was the audience's spontaneous decision, in which case: settle down, y'all.
Frankly, both shows seemed...awfully similar to the way they usually are. I'm not sure what writing anyone is allowed to do, but someone had clearly set up a lot of the bits on both, and I'm not sure what the difference is between arranging bits to be funny and writing jokes. That line seems awfully fine, from my perspective.
In the end, though, what I most regret about both is that neither of these guys wanted to be where they were, at least not under these circumstances. Good comedy requires a certain energy, I think, and when people are doing it against their will, mostly dreading the curtain, it cannot be the same.
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