Comedian Jon Stewart makes a surprise announcement that he’ll be giving up hosting duties on The Daily Show later this year.
Stewart, 52, who has starred in the Comedy Central’s parody newscast show since 1999, says he had no specific plans for his next career move, but was thankful for the opportunity to host the program.
“It’s been an absolute privilege,” says an emotional Stewart to his studio audience at the end of the show’s Feb 10 episode. “It’s been the honour of my professional life, and I thank you for watching it, for hate-watching it, whatever reason you are tuning in for.”
The announcement came after Comedy Central’s other big name, former Daily Show contributor Stephen Colbert, ended his tenure as star of companion show The Colbert Report and left the network in December 2014 to succeed the retiring David Letterman as host of the Late Show on CBS.
The New York-based The Daily Show, which airs weeknights at 11pm on the Viacom Inc-owned Comedy Central, is expected to continue, says the network, but a replacement for Stewart has yet to be named.
“Through his unique voice and vision, The Daily Show has become a cultural touchstone for millions of fans and an unparalleled platform for political comedy that will endure for years to come,” says Comedy Central President Michele Ganeless in a statement.
Stewart replaced Craig Kilborn roughly 15 years ago as host of the late-night cable programme, which has won Peabody and Emmy awards.
“17 years is the longest I have ever in my life held a job, by 16 years and five months,” says Stewart during the Feb 10 episode. “The upshot there being I am a terrible employee. But in my heart, I know it is time for someone else to have that opportunity,” he adds, prompting boos from the audience.
“The Daily Show” averages slightly more than 1 million viewers a night, a far smaller audience than his late-night competition on broadcast networks, but Stewart became disproportionately influential in US politics and culture.
His lampooning of elected and would-be office-holders, broadcast journalists and other public figures, especially on the conservative end of the spectrum, has made him a darling of the political left.
Young adult viewers form the core of his fan base. In a 2004 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 21% of respondents aged 18 to 29 cite The Daily Show as a regular source of political news.
A two-time Oscar host who has branched out into the movie industry, Stewart made his directorial debut with the film Rosewater last year.
Beginning his show business career in stand-up comedy in New York, Stewart took his satirical humor to MTV in 1993, where he hosted The Jon Stewart Show. The Daily Show has been a launchpad for several comedians besides Colbert, among them Steve Carell and John Oliver. – Reuters