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Jon Stewart’s final ‘Daily Show’ draws near-record ratings

After his 16-year run as host of “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central, Jon Stewart bid farewell with lots of special guests, including Stephen Colbert. The Times’ Christy Khoshaba recaps all the major moments.

Jon Stewart said his final “Daily Show” adios on Thursday with a near-record audience.

An average of 3.5 million total viewers watched Stewart bid goodbye to the Comedy Central perch that he turned into a late-night comedy institution over the last 17 years.

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The finale far outpaced typical “Daily Show” ratings, which usually landed below 2 million per night.

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But the last show was watched by just shy of the 3.6 million who in October 2008 tuned in to see Barack Obama, then a candidate for the White House, appear on the program,” in what remains its best-ever showing in the ratings.

However, DVR and other time-shifted viewing is much more commonplace now than it was seven years ago, so it’s a virtual certainty that the Stewart finale will see its numbers go much higher once viewing over the next several days is tabulated, according to Nielsen.

FULL COVERAGE: Jon Stewart’s legacy and the future of ‘The Daily Show’

Stewart’s goodbye show included a visit from Stephen Colbert, a former “Daily Show” correspondent who graduated to his own successful fake-news program on Comedy Central and will later this year take over the late-night franchise on CBS.

There was also a reel of sarcastic sendoffs from some of the comic’s most frequent targets, including Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, who shouted: “Have fun feeding your rabbits, quitter!”

“So long, jackass,” Sen. John McCain told Stewart.

What did you think of Stewart’s finale?

Twitter: @scottcollinsLAT

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#JonVoyage: How correspondents, celebs, critics bid farewell to Jon Stewart

Video: Jon Stewart exits ‘The Daily Show’ with an emotional moment with Stephen Colbert

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