It really was The Daily Show With Jon Stewart again Tuesday night as Jon Stewart returned to his Comedy Central seat after taking a three-month break to direct his first film while the reliably funny John Oliver filled in.
But while a summer off doesn't seem like that much time, considering he has hosted The Daily Show for 14 years, Stewart needed a little help getting back into broadcast shape before heading back on the air.
Well, more than a little help, since when Oliver first showed up to greet his boss, Stewart was unshaven and scraggly and speaking in a thick accent.
"Hey Jess, we have a huge problem," Oliver rushed over to correspondent Jessica Williams in the bit that opened tonight's show. "Jon's back, but I think the Middle East has changed him. He's not even acting American. Get a defibrillator and two Big Macs. Let's do this."
Jump-starting Stewart's true self with McDonald's didn't work at first, however, but merely changed him into a redneck stereotype who said, "Obamacare can suck Paula Deen's d--k for all I care. It's a politically correct culture, why can't we say that word..."
So then Oliver tried a shot to calm Jon down ("What was in that thing?" Williams inquired. "Just lox," Oliver shrugged), but that just turned him into Moses.
"Hear me, o' children of Israel," the bearded, robe-wearing Stewart began.
"This is going to take a while," Oliver admitted, before turning Stewart into a pipe-smoking Brit; a unitard-wearing Freddie Mercury; a Smurf; and then a foam-finger-wielding, nude leotard-wearing, tongue-wagging someone-or-other.
Williams smashed him over the head with a bottle of Heineken, but that only succeeded in turning Stewart into Hitler, so it was time to call in reinforcements.
Cue Stephen Colbert in a hazmat suit, who somehow, some way, whipped Stewart into shape. (Literally. You could hear the whipping sounds.)
After some time with his old pal, Stewart bounded out of his office, clean-shaven and ready to host.
"I've missed you so much," he told the audience in a conspiratorial whisper after the opening credits had rolled.
We've missed you, too, Jon.