This just in: Jon Stewart is leaving The Daily Show. We don’t know exactly when (he said it could be July or September or December) or what he will do next, although he admitted he’s got lots of ideas, and no one would be surprised if he directed another movie after taking a sabbatical to make last year’s well-reviewed drama Rosewater. We do have some idea why he’s quitting — he referred to being “restless” in the job and wanting to have dinner with his wife and children on a school night. Insiders have been speculating that Stewart would quit ever since he moved his family out of New York City and back to his native Garden State last year. Some even tried to jump ship to The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, but Stewart wouldn’t allow poaching by his new Comedy Central lead-out, although he may relax that stance now.
One thing is certain: Comedy Central is probably regretting letting natural Daily Show successors Stephen Colbert and John Oliver defect to CBS and HBO, respectively. Much like the Republican 2016 presidential field, there’s no clear front-runner for who will replace Stewart. Internet wags are already joking that Brian Williams would be the perfect man for the job — he does have a famously good sense of humor and may need a new gig if his six-month suspension from NBC News without pay becomes permanent. Others are calling for the return of original Daily Show mock-anchor Craig Kilborn (what does he do all day now?), but that seems like a step in the wrong direction — backwards.
Veteran Daily Show correspondents Samantha Bee, Jessica Williams, Aasif Mandvi and Al Madrigal all seem qualified for the position, and any of them would help to further diversify a late-night landscape that’s still overrun by white guys named Jimmy (or, in the case of the new Late Late Show host, James). Let me throw another wild card into the mix: Leslie Jones.
She’s slayed on Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” — the comedic progenitor of The Daily Show — and she’s poised for superstardom with her casting alongside Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy and Kate McKinnon in the Ghostbusters reboot. The only question is: Can Comedy Central keep up with Ms. Jones?
Currently Senior Articles Editor for Closer Weekly, Bruce Fretts wrote TV Guide Magazine‘s wildly popular “Cheers & Jeers” column for 10 years. His work has also been published in the New York Times, Vulture.com, Fast Company, New York Daily News, Digital Spy, DuJour Magazine, the Sundance Channel’s website and RogerEbert.com. You can follow him on Twitter @brucefretts.