By Ken Tucker
Updated April 07, 2011 at 12:00 PM EDT

Jon Stewart began The Daily Show on Thursday night with an extended Glenn Beck parody that buried, interred, incinerated, and spread the ashes of Beck’s public persona. It was funny — indeed, hilarious, yes. To watch it was also to witness a satirist bidding a truly fond farewell to one of the most ripe, juicy, nutty objects his satire could ever have the privilege to mock. “He was great for business,” admitted Stewart.

“Glenn Beck was sent here by Jesus,” said a Stewart wearing Beckian horn-rims and speaking in the messianic terms Beck employs. Stewart stood in front of a Beck-like blackboard with pictures of George Soros and Charlie Manson at either end, with the John Birch Society chalked in the middle. “I want you to open your ears because for the next 10 to 15 minutes,” said Stewart/Beck. “I am going to f— them with the truth.”

In between offering a blunt interpretation of the host’s and Fox News’ delicately worded statements about Beck’s “transitioning” — “They dropped his ass” — Stewart didn’t so much impersonate Beck as he did burrow into Beck’s mind-set. It was a Daily Show critique of someone the host felt needed deconstructing, but done as a tableau rather than from behind a table.

Stewart showed clips of Beck ranting about “the coming insurrection” and comparing himself to Paul Revere: “Except when Revere told the you the British were coming, they were really coming.”

Oh yeah: Stewart’s guest was Jamie Oliver. He’s starting a food revolution, as opposed to a world revolution, like Glenn Beck.

Did you watch?

Twitter: @kentucker