Comedian Jon Stewart is rewinding the clock, returning to “The Daily Show” as a weekly host and executive producing through the 2024 U.S. elections cycle.
Comedy Central on Wednesday said Stewart will host the topical TV show, the perch he ruled for 16 years starting in 1999, every Monday starting Feb. 12. A rotating lineup of show regulars are on tap for the rest of the week.
“Jon Stewart is the voice of our generation, and we are honored to have him return to Comedy Central’s The Daily Show to help us all make sense of the insanity and division roiling the country as we enter the election season,” Chris McCarthy, president and CEO of Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios, said in a statement. “In our age of staggering hypocrisy and performative politics, Jon is the perfect person to puncture the empty rhetoric and provide much-needed clarity with his brilliant wit.”
Over the years, “The Daily Show” — first hosted by Craig Kilborn, then Stewart and Trevor Noah — has skewered the left and right by making the media a character and playing it absolutely straight, no matter how ridiculous.
The show, which won an Emmy Award this month for best talk series, has not had a permanent host since Noah left last year. Current correspondents include Desi Lydic, Michael Kosta, Ronny Chieng and Jordan Klepper.
Stewart didn’t leave the show in anger in 2015 and has spoken fondly of it over the years.
“When you lose that structure, you’re untethered from the thing that prevents the bad mind from doing its corrupt best,” he said on the Strike Force Five podcast during the Hollywood strikes last year. “It goes south and dark really fast.”
“It’s not like I thought the show wasn’t working any more, or that I didn’t know how to do it. It was more, ‘Yup, it’s working. But I’m not getting the same satisfaction,’” he told the Guardian newspaper in 2015.
The show’s long-term legacy as a talent incubator is sterling, becoming a launching pad for the likes of John Oliver, Larry Wilmore, Olivia Munn, Samantha Bee, Roy Wood Jr. and Aasif Mandvi. Stewart was awarded the Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2022.
Two former correspondents in particular got massive boosts — Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert. Carell went on to an Oscar- and Emmy-nominated acting career in “The Office” on TV and films like ”Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” and “Foxcatcher.” Colbert led the spinoff Comedy Central show “The Colbert Report” from 2005 to 2014 and now is host of CBS’ “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
Recently, Stewart’s “The Problem With Jon Stewart,” which debuted in 2021, was canceled on the Apple TV streaming service. It took on polarizing topics such as racism, climate change, mass incarceration and gun control, but its stridency rubbed some critics the wrong way.
The Los Angeles Times in a review said, “The host spends some time searching for his old rhythm, the soft-loud-soft approach, in which he rockets from calm to horror to a person crouched in a corner croaking ‘help.’”
The show’s abrupt end was reportedly triggered due to clashes between Stewart and Apple over its coverage of stories around China and artificial intelligence.
A spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions about who will host “The Daily Show” after the November election.