The Daily Show: Why the Series Should End When Jon Stewart Leaves

Daily Show Ending

Not long after host Jon Stewart on Tuesday announced his imminent departure from The Daily Show, the deafening chatter began.

Who would replace Stewart? Who should replace him? Should the Comedy Central staple stay the course, or should it try something new with its next faux anchor? Everywhere, from your Facebook feed to the evening news, somebody was talking about what was next for the satirical series.

Amid the ongoing cacophony, allow this idea to serve as your Moment of Zen: Perhaps no one should replace Stewart when he eventually vacates the fake news desk.

Maybe it’s time for The Daily Show to come to an end.

VIDEO ‘Restless’ Jon Stewart Talks Daily Show Exit, ‘Lotta Ideas’ for His Next Move

Sure, the series survived — and thrived — after Stewart succeeded original host Craig Kilborn in 1999. And there’s an argument to be made that a third host (perhaps correspondents Jessica Williams, Jason Jones or Samantha Bee, solo or in some combination) could have a similar, revitalizing affect on the 19-year-old series.

Similarly, a replacement from the outside (The Talk‘s Aisha Tyler, @midnight‘s Chris Hardwick or comedienne Sarah Silverman, for example) might take The Daily Show in a new direction that would spiff up — or, at least, change up — the format.

But would any replacement so thoroughly become the series the way Stewart has? Would anyone have the unique mix of intelligence, humor and geopolitical awareness with which Stewart has imbued each of his broadcasts?

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John Oliver, you say? True, while Stewart took leave to direct the film Rosewater in 2013, Oliver broke the show, danced with Danger and did an admirable job of keeping the host’s seat warm. But then HBO came calling, Last Week Tonight took shape and gained speed, and there’s no chance the Brit is coming back now.

This discussion is almost certainly an academic one; Comedy Central is more likely to greenlight Sen. Mitch McConnell’s Turtle Time than to put an end to one of its best-performing brands. If the Daily Show nabs a brighter-than-average replacement — and the post-Stewart writing staff stays pretty much intact — it’s possible to imagine the series bumping along comfortably for a few more years, at least.

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But should it? The same way that The Colbert Report was Stephen Colbert, The Daily Show has become Jon Stewart. He’s the reason we stay up each night (and/or seek out clips online the next morning), and he’s the person (for better or worse) many of us trust to give us a sense of what’s going on in the world.

Comedy Central, meet me at Camera 3: Please be the first network in history to allow a top-performing series to go out in its prime. Please allow Stewart’s Daily Show tenure to stand as an example of how amazing television can be when it’s smart, sharp and unafraid to take a risk. And rather than trying to reboot/reinvent what has already been done to perfection, please make an unexpected choice — knowing your courage will be the springboard for whatever comes next.

Agree? Disagree? Let us hear it in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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53 Comments
  1. Viv says:

    Thank you! Nothing to add.

  2. lori says:

    Agree completely!

  3. Andy J says:

    “The Daily Show” should end with Jon Stewart’s departure-and Comedy Central should sign up Brian Williams to host a new show. As a journalist, his credibility is shot, but that doesn’t mean he can’t reinvent himself,as a comedian. I think Brian Williams would,be happier as an entertainer, and seeing him on “SNL” and “30 Rock” I know he possesses considerable comedy skills.

  4. GeoDiva says:

    So agree! If they want to bring in someone else, then develop a whole new show around that person/format. Just don’t call it The Daily Show.

  5. Hamish says:

    So Craig Kilborn won’t be returning from assignment in Kuala Lumpur???

  6. sara says:

    Michael, if you really believe that then you have no clue what the show is about.

    • Angela says:

      Michael didn’t write this article.
      This piece makes a really good case for ending the show altogether. As sad as it would be to see this show end altogether, indeed, while people who’ve filled in for Jon did a great job doing so, and as thankful as I am that John Oliver’s time hosting led to him getting his own show, which I love, there is something about Jon Stewart being the regular host that just feels right, and which would be very hard to replace.
      But if they weren’t looking at it in terms of trying to replace a noted and beloved name, but rather simply wanting to keep the spirit and point of “The Daily Show” while giving it a new spin somehow with a new host, I’d be okay with that. I imagine that’d be the route they’ll want to go if they keep “The Daily Show” as it is, ’cause I think they’re well aware of how hard it’d be to replace Jon, or put too many expectations on a new person like that.

  7. Cindy says:

    Agree completely! Thank you!

  8. Amy H says:

    Totally agree with this. The Daily Show IS Jon Stewart. I would feel sorry for anyone attempting to fill hIs shoes. Accept no substitutes.

  9. Kat says:

    Jon Stewart is not the Daily Show, and it was just as entertaining when John Oliver took over hosting duties that summer when Jon left to film Rosewater. I rely on Jon Stewart for my news and I know a lot of millennials who are in the same boat. If the Daily Show ends, where will we turn for our news? The major networks? CNN? Haha. I guess I’ll just have to read BBC.com more often.

    • WMJ4520 says:

      The fact that you need to be (in your own words) “entertained” to get your “news,” speaks volumes.

    • dude says:

      The fact that you can’t name a single credible news source outside of Jon Stewart is sad.

      • S. says:

        I think that speaks more to the quality of the news reporting out there than any fault on Kat’s part. As for the idea that being entertained and getting news at the same time is a flaw, I give you..oh I dunno…all news outlets everywhere, including Fox News. You think those blonde women just happen to show off a little leg and sit at a certain angle to the camera by coincidence? They crank out the graphics for you, my friend. They posture and blow hard because it’s a performance. They have no new thing to report about a subject for a couple of hours during a crisis but find ways to babble and, yes, entertain you with the idea that you’re getting news when you’re not. They’ve got the skill of QVC presenters trying to go on and on about a product without showing you new substance. Nothing new happens and yet you continue to watch. Are you not entertained? Jon Stewart and the rest of the folks at the Daily Show are not only entertaining, they’re more accurate and insightful than any of the cable channels. Making fun of people that are completely and utterly ridiculous in what they expect the public to swallow (I’m talking both politicians and the media) is necessary. At the heart of the best comedy is truth. Sorry it hurts to realize that Stewart is more on top of it than whatever you watch.

  10. Williwasnt says:

    I already said this in response to the article announcing his retirement, but the Daily Show should end and they should move the Nightly Show to 11.

  11. Gern Blanston says:

    No, they shouldn’t cancel it. The show canchange into something different but, just as good with a different host. They need to give the hosting job to W. Kamau Bell. His show on FX never should have been cancelled. He’s as smart and funny as Stewart and just as socially aware as Stewart is.

  12. Tran says:

    It would be very sad if Comedy Central ends The Daily Show with no replacement for Jon Stewart.

  13. CourtTV says:

    I agree but I know it will continue. If the writing staff is as good as all of their Emmys say they are, the show will survive after Stewart. It is the show for news for me and many others and Comedy Central needs it.

  14. cuius says:

    Somebody/thing has to keep Fox News in check

  15. Mark D. Moss says:

    If I’ve learned anything from Jon Stewart over the past 17 years, it’s that news – even fake comedy news – should not be driven by celebrity claptrap. The Daily Show is, and has always been, the sharp, smart *writing staff*, and there are a whole host (pun intended) of smart, creative and interesting choices that could be made to replace the show’s host while the format and features continue to tweak, grow and adapt as they always have. A new host *will* need to be her or his *own* person … which is why suggestions of “promotion from within the ranks” is as wrong as they are pedestrian. John Oliver “worked” as a fill in for Stewart … but his own show is leaps better than that stint. The outside bench, though, *is* deep. Along with either Aisha Tyler or Chris Hardwick (which you mention), how about John Fugelsang, a sharp comic with a terrific grasp of both the absurdity of today’s politics AND the media that covers it. Stephani Miller would be another awesome choice. Bottom line, though, is that as long as the quality of writing and satire stays sharp — and I *always* preferred reports from correspondents to some of Jon’s less successful mugging and skits anyway — I’m staying with. And this country *needs* The Daily Show to get us through the coming cluster-mess of an election that will just be heating up when Jon takes his bow.

    Credit where it’s due: Stewart is and was a terrific voice and a terrific leader. But The Daily Show is much bigger than the personality in the host chair.

    • Rosie says:

      I know this is purely a matter of taste, but if Samantha Bee and/or Jason Jones would be selected to replace Stewart, I don’t think I could watch the show. Jones’ humor is, more often than not, crude and based on innuendo, and Bee’s humor is, more often than not, based almost entirely on making people feel uncomfortable. Watch their field reports — vulgar Jones and “gonna make the guest squirm” Bee are fine in small doses. And I realize that these are personae the actors have developed; Jones and Bee may be the most lovely people in the world off camera. But one thing Stewart did masterfully was to make guests feel respected, comfortable, and taken seriously, even when he was gunning for some of them. Guests were not part of some shtick o routine. I have a really hard time seeing Jones/Bee doing that without major overhauls.

      • Mark D. Moss says:

        I agree with you vis a vis Jones’ and Bee’s on-screen persona, but that’s *not* what I was referring to in my comment. Both have been key *writing* contributors to the Daily Show right through Stewart’s tenure. That’s the piece I’d like to see continued. (And their recent, and thankfully very brief, stint replacing Jon when he was down with the flu speaks clearly as to why it would be a disaster if they were selected to replace him.)

        I’ve begun to see both John Fugelsang and Stephanie Miller mentioned a lot … either (or both) would be brilliant in this role!!

  16. Jimmy says:

    Kilborn’s version and Stewart’s version cannot even be compared. It will be tough to replace Stewart and still get the same kind of intelligent humor.

  17. I get the sentiment but I don’t think we can write off the show so easily. I do agree that Jon really made the show his own but that’s how of how good hosts work.

  18. Joey says:

    Jessica Williams is quite possibly one of the freshest breaths of air I’ve seen on there in a long time. If she (or Sam Bee, for that matter) were tapped, it would make my day.

  19. Hannah says:

    really on the fence about this one. It would all depend on who the replacement was. I have watched the daily show religiously since kilborn. I remember wondering if Stewart could pull it off. He did and he made it better, much to my shorties. If they got another intelligent, comedian perhaps the same could happen. I’d give it a try

  20. Charissa29 says:

    Absolutely! Jon Stewart is irreplaceable!

  21. ArchieLeach says:

    I think they should give Larry Willmore his time slot and do some other news magazine style show, maybe with a little more mix of culture and politics, something between what Stewart does and what Hardwick does,

  22. Mike says:

    I’d almost prefer to see Jones and Sam Bee get a morning-show style spinoff – Jones lampoons Lauer and Bee channels the tipsy twins – while still doing the fake news Schtick. It’s the one niche fake news has yet to go after.

  23. cjeffery7 says:

    Agreed. Just as the show became something slightly different when John Oliver subbed, The Daily Show is firmly in Jon Stewart’s voice and words. It can’t be replicated by another person, it would be inherently different. I’d love to see Sam Bee, Jessica Williams and Jason Jones do something where they band together and present poignant ridiculousness every week, or something like that. As much as we’ll miss the Daily Show, it’s time to move on and try something new.

  24. Tb says:

    Perfectly said.

  25. Jason says:

    I’ve watched the show since the Craig kilborn era and I must say that the daily show should go on as long as it doesn’t try to copy Stewart. I’d like to maybe see Wyatt Cenac or Rob Riggle come back and host. I think they both have a style that would suit the anchor position while differentiating themselves from Stewart.

  26. KCC says:

    I don’t see any reason to end it. Did NBC end The Tonight Show when Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson or Jay Leno left? Did SNL end when the original cast left? Did CBS end The Evening News when Walter Cronkite retired? After all The Daily Show is a spoof on the news so it goes to reason that when an anchor leaves another will replace him. While every show is only as good as it’s host, there are plenty of possible replacements for John Stewart, many the general public might not be aware of. It will evolve and change and some will say: “it was better with John Stewart” but a new generation of viewers might appreciate the change.

  27. LN says:

    Yes, the “Daily Show with Jon Stewart” should end with Stewart’s departure, and push up “The Nightly Show” in it’s place.

  28. CountryQueen says:

    We need The Daily show, or one like it. We need a show that can expose all these hypocritical idiots on so called news channels for what they are. Jon was the master, and will be missed, but there is a great need in this day and age of opinion as news. Even the nightly news channels cannot be trusted to give you in depth news. It’s appalling what they choose to show us as news (just last night CBS made sure to give us a story about a dog getting into a supermarket, or something – I bounced out when I saw them promote this – I want news, not fluff.)

  29. Jill C says:

    100% agree!

  30. Trina says:

    I keep hoping this isnt’ true and Jon isn’t leaving. But I agree. Just like the Colbert Report ended and a new show moved in it’s spot – the Daily Show is only the Daily Show because of Jon Stewart. Won’t be the same without him – End the show with him.

  31. Jeff says:

    I see a few people saying they should move The Nightly Show into that timeslot. Bad idea. The better idea would be to get rid of Larry Wilmore altogether. That show is terrible with him as host–he’s not funny at all. (The roundtable discussion format is interesting, but the host not so much.) I hope Comedy Central is able to make the right decision with Stewart’s replacement.

  32. Karina says:

    Spot on! Totally agree.

  33. Tracy says:

    Sick of the Dem bias! Let the show go into the night!

  34. If Jessica Williams took of the Daily Show it would spell doom for the show. You couldn’t pay me to watch it with her in the anchor chair.

    • On a positive note, I think Jason Jones & Sam Bee would be awesome as tag team anchors. But for a replacement, I am a big fan of Aisha Tyler, Al Madrigal, Aziz Ansari, Aasif Mandvi, and Amy Sedaris. Basically, anyone whose name starts with an A (as I just noticed upon typing this list). I’ll make an exception: Bassem Youssef would be awesome if they could get him (I’m chuckling to myself right now at the thought of this).

      Behind the scenes, I’m sure Comedy Central will try to court John Oliver back. That’s a long shot though. Joel McHale and Chris Hardwick feel like obvious choices… I can’t say I’m a huge fan of either. As much as I want to love Hardwick, something about him gets under my skin. But I think for those guys, their white maleness is a huge mark against them in the face of a young culture that is clamoring for diversification. If I were a betting man I would say Comedy Central is likely only considering women and minorities… and John Oliver (secretly, we wouldn’t want to hurt their negotiating powers).

      Personally, I think a strong woman anchor is what that show needs. People have floated Tig Notaro and Cameron Esposito. Those would be solid choices. Amy Poehler and Tina Fey have also been mentioned. Fey would also be good, I have my doubts about Poehler (as much as I love her) but could they be lured into it? I love, love, love, Sarah Silverman… but not as the host of the Daily Show.

      But for the love of all that is holy… not Jessica Williams. She just doesn’t have the chops for it. She could not carry the show. Ball’s in your court, Williams. Now score the job and prove me wrong! :)

  35. Kevin says:

    It’s all in the name, though, isn’t it?

    Look, “The Colbert Report” had to end, because having Larry Wilmore host “The Colbert Report with Larry Wilmore” would have been dumb. (Entertaining on some level, but yeah, dumb.)

    But “The Daily Show” is no more indicative of the contents of said show as “The Tonight Show” or “Late Night” are to their respective hosts. “The Tonight Show” survived in name when it went from Johnny to Jay. No, it wasn’t the same show, nor is Jimmy’s version of it the same.

    I agree that the driver here shouldn’t necessarily be to plug in a new anchor while keeping everything else (format, attitude, set, even writing staff) the same. But I see no reason why whatever replaces Jon’s show in the 11:00 slot on Comedy Central can’t still be titled “The Daily Show.” It’s a show that airs daily…still works.

  36. Earla Pankiewicz says:

    I agree, let it die a natural death in all it’s glory, don’t try to replace Jon Stewart because it can’t be done.

  37. Kevin F. Loftus says:

    I agree. Comedy Central should find a good young comedian and turn her loose.

  38. B-PHA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HAAAA!!

    They may have said that when Craig Kilborn left… and if it had happened, look at what we would’ve missed out on.

    Do you honestly believe no other world-savvy comedian could totally own The Daily Show? John Oliver owned it when Stewart was off making his movie! Any number of people could rule that show… so give one of them a chance. I, for one, look forward to our new nightly overlord.

  39. A. Santaella says:

    Bottom line, Jon Stewart “is” The Daily Show. I firmly believe that definitively “no,” he cannot be replaced, either short-term or long-term. His unique genius, humurous, satirical, yet deeply thoughtful spin on current events, the geo-economic-political scene, rightfully brand his role as anchor/host as irreplaceable. He’s over the length of his tenure, elevated the show to its current highly-rated status with an enormously loyal fan base. Again, he is impossible to replace. Nonetheless, he’s had some remarkably talented writers and quasi-reporters, all deserving of praise for their unique contributions. Close out The Daily Show with Jon Stewart with respect, dignity, and honor for the man who made the show what its become. Replace the show with a new format, incarnation, and leadership worthy of the soon to be empty slot. And bless Jon Stewart for his years of keeping us entertained and informed. may his future endeavors meet with success and a sense of personal fulfillment

  40. Luis says:

    They’d sooner disrespect Eric Cartman’s authoritah

  41. Oti Grimm says:

    This article has no basis in reality. Do you really think Comedy Central is going to give up on this show and all the eyes that come to watch it?

  42. M Lewis says:

    You know, I agree completely that its time for a Jon Stewart figure to step down, and the series to go with it. But I’d love to see the torch passed on in a format for a different show that is a bit more updated, but appeals in a similar way. Not the dude who replaced Colbert though, he feels like a half-hearted interpretation of that show paired with a half-hearted attempt to bring it in a new direction. Give Jessica Williams a different show altogether, it would be awesome.

  43. Jennifer says:

    I’ve watched Trevor Noah and he’s intelligent, funnier than hell. I say give him a chance. He’s destined for big things anyway.