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Why did Jon Stewart ever leave The Daily Show in the first place? Inside his unexpected departure and comeback

The former host of the hit Comedy Central talk show is returning to the post following Trevor Noah's 2022 departure

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and guest Jon Stewart during Monday's June 17, 2019 show© Getty
Beatriz Colon
Beatriz Colon - New York
New York WriterNew York
January 24, 2024
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The Daily Show, just over a year after Trevor Noah's surprise departure and a subsequent revolving door of guest hosts, has finally (sort of) settled on a host: Trevor's own predecessor Jon Stewart.

Almost ten years after his 2015 departure, the beloved comedian and political commentator is returning to the familiar post, albeit only once a week, Mondays, and only through the 2024 election cycle. Chris McCarthy, President/CEO of Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios, told Variety in a statement: "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."

He added: "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." Below, read all we know about the decision, starting with why the host ever left in the first place.

WATCH: Trevor Noah announces The Daily Show departure

Why did Jon Stewart leave The Daily Show?

Jon replaced sports commentator and original host Craig Kilburn as the star of The Daily Show back in 1999, and in the following years, he strengthened the show's lean towards news and political satire.

MORE: Trevor Noah leaving The Daily Show after seven years

In a 2015 conversation with The Guardian explaining his decision to leave the show – which came as we approached the contentious 2016 election between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump – Jon explained: "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 specifically pointed to the upcoming election as part of the motivation to leave, and, one would say quite ironically, said at the time: "I'd covered an election four times, and it didn't appear that there was going to be anything wildly different about this one."

Bob Love is interviewing Jon Stewart, host of the TV talk show The Daily Show, in his studio office for the Columbia Journalism Review, December 5, 2002© Getty
Jon, pictured above in 2002, became host in 1999

What has been the reaction to Jon Stewart's Daily Show comeback?

Fans and industry colleagues alike are excited. Jon – who in 2021 reentered the world of political commentary with Apple's The Problem with Jon Stewart until its cancellation in 2023 – wrote on X of the news: "Friends. After much reflection I have decided to enter the transfer portal for my last year of eligibility. Excited for the future!"

MORE: Trevor Noah to make big comeback after leaving The Daily Show

Fellow political commentator Mehdi Hasan, who recently left his post on MSNBC, tweeted: "Whoa. Amazing. [Jon Stewart] on Trump, something we didn't get in 2016 or 2020," plus Trevor himself shared on the social media platform: "Yesssss he's back," with praising hands emojis. Acclaimed director Nancy Meyers also said on Instagram: "Good news! I was beginning to forget what that felt like."

Trevor Noah and host Jon Stewart appear on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" #JonVoyage on August 6, 2015 in New York City© Getty
Trevor and Jon in 2015

Who else will host The Daily Show?

On the remaining days that Jon isn't hosting, Tuesdays through Thursdays, Comedy Central is still keeping up its rotation of guest hosts, which have included Kal Penn, Charlamagne Tha God, Michelle Wolf, and Leslie Jones, among others.

The move comes even after longtime Daily Show correspondent Roy Wood Jr. hilariously mouthed: "Please hire a host. We don't care. Please hire a host," while standing behind Trevor when accepting their Emmy award for Outstanding Talk Series this month.

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