In news considered a shocker, Daily Show host Jon Stewart announced Tuesday evening he was exiting Comedy Central’s late-night satire news program after sixteen seasons.
Five years after his syndicated talk show tanked (a last-minute replacement for the original Arsenio Hall Show), Stewart took over after the departure of Craig Kilbourn in 1999 and turned the program into a destination for young viewers looking for an alternative take on current events. Ratings surged after Stewart took over and many studies noted young audiences were getting their news from The Daily Show than from other news sources.
The Daily Show also received its share of controversy, becoming a lightning rod for conservatives, who Stewart regularly skewed on his show.
But political figures weren’t the only ones targeted by Stewart – he target food, too. Yes, food. In November 2013, Stewart ripped into Chicago deep-dish pizza and the city in general after Mayor Rahm Emanuel was unhappy about the Willis Tower losing the World’s Most Tallest Building designation to the Freedom Center in New York. Stewart called the pizza “an above ground marinara swimming pool for rats.” The comments angered many Chicagoans – given Stewart was from New York.
As I noted in a Think Tank over “Deep Dish Gate”, yours truly never got into The Daily Show, preferring Simpsons reruns (and regrettably, the awful Arsenio revival) instead. While Stewart cranky persona came off as funny to a lot of people, to yours truly, it fell flat (admittingly, yours truly doesn’t understand political humor.) On the other hand, I give Stewart props for his great contributions to pop culture and the guts to call out politicians and cable TV news blowhards. His appearance on CNN’s Crossfire in 2005 was perhaps the best television segment ever.
During his time at Comedy Central, Stewart created The Colbert Report, and the series that replaced it, The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. Stewart’s influence can be seen in another news satire show, HBO’s Last Week Tonight, with former Daily Show correspondent John Oliver.
There is no exact timetable on when Stewart would depart, which is likely after Letterman leaves CBS. Stewart contract expires in mid-2015, according to one source. It is also not known if The Daily Show would continue under another host.
In the last two years, the late-night landscape has changed considerably with the departures of Jay Leno, The Colbert Report, the soon-to-retire David Letterman (to be replaced by Stephen Colbert), Craig Ferguson, and now Jon Stewart. Late night certainly won’t be the same.