For the first time since he left the post that made him a household name, comedian Jon Stewart returned to The Daily Show Monday night to surprise the audience and host Trevor Noah.
Wearing a T-shirt and sporting a beard, Stewart waved to the audience, who went nuts while Noah said, “I can’t believe it! This is awesome.” He added, “Oh, wait, wait, wait, shit. Are you here to take the show back?”
“A thousand times no,” Stewart said in reply. “I have this issue I care about very deeply and I was wondering — I want to get attention paid to it but I was realizing I don’t have a show, and nobody gives a shit anymore. So I thought, you have a show, and maybe I could come and…,” he said to cheers.
With the stage set, Stewart spoke of the 2010 James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act and the need to make the health care funding permanent so 9/11 first responders can continue to be treated for illnesses suffered that fateful day.
“It expired in September. Soon to be out of money, these first responders, many sick with cancers and pulmonary disease, had to travel at their expense to Washington, D.C., hundreds of times to plead for our government to do the right thing. Plead,” Stewart said, exasperated.
“The only conclusion I can draw is that the people of Congress are not as good a people as the people who are first responders,” Stewart added.
The former host, who since leaving the Comedy Central show has signed a four-year production deal with HBO, then showed footage of himself accompanying 9/11 first responders to the offices of lawmakers who have not signed on to the bill in an effort to change their minds.
Following the episode, the Daily Show Twitter account shared a call to action petition for Stewart’s cause.
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) December 8, 2015
This article originally appeared on The Hollywood Reporter