Comedy Central is losing another icon. Less than two months after a farewell broadcast of “The Colbert Report,” on Feb. 10 Jon Stewart told his audience that he’s leaving “The Daily Show” later this year when his contract expires.
He didn’t declare reasons or future goals, but his exit was apparently pre-planned, as the network quickly produced a farewell statement immediately after Stewart’s announcement. Says Comedy Central president Michele Ganeless:
For the better part of the last two decades, I have had the incredible honor and privilege of working with Jon Stewart. His comedic brilliance is second to none. Jon has been at the heart of Comedy Central, championing and nurturing the best talent in the industry, in front of and behind the camera. 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.
Jon will remain at the helm of ‘The Daily Show’ until later this year. He is a comic genius, generous with his time and talent, and will always be a part of the Comedy Central family.
Stewart succeeded the show from Craig Wilborn in Jan. 1999, and “The Daily Show” has since grown 400 percent in Nielsen ratings. Watched by 2.5 million, “The Daily Show” has ranked highest of all late-night talk shows in adult viewers of 18 to 49.
Despite billing itself as “fake news,” “The Daily Show” is credited with telling more accurate and detailed news than almost all other networks, according to a 2012 study, scoring higher than CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News.
In 2010, Time included the program in its listing of “All-Time 100 TV Shows.”
While not declaring reasons or future goals, Stewart could have his eyes set on directing films, a new path he first took last year with “Rosewater.”