On Tuesday, the long time host of The Daily Show announced that he would be leaving sometime later this year after doing this show for 16 years. Although like many others, I wanted him to continue doing it forever, just like with Stephen Colbert, I was not really surprised by his announcement. He had clearly found his niche and made an impact and anyone who is creative gets tired of the routine even, and especially, when it is a success and becomes a well-oiled machine. He had become a recognized leader in deconstructing the news and media coverage of it, exposing the shallowness and hypocrisy that is rampant in politics and journalism in the US.
Unlike the case of Colbert’s show in which you could not simply slot a new person into the old format, in the case of The Daily Show the general structure is independent of the host although a new host will bring their own perspective to it.
I can understand Stewart’s desire to move on because the same thing happens with teaching. When you start a new course, it is a bit of a mess and it becomes a challenge to improve it over the years and make it better. Then after some years, the course seems to run smoothly and almost on autopilot. You run out of new ways to do things and start getting a little bored, though everyone else seems to think things are just fine. That is the time to walk away from it and let someone else with a new vision come along. This is not easy to do because it feels like you are abandoning some delicate plant that you have carefully cultivated for many years into the care of a stranger and you worry whether it will survive. But at the same time you just cannot bear the thought of continuing the cycle one more time.
The realization that it is time to move on can come along suddenly, as it has for me in the past on two occasions, and now I am thinking seriously of moving on yet again for the same reason though I haven’t committed myself as yet.
Anyway, here is Jon Stewart’s statement of intent to leave.
(This The Daily Show clip aired on February 10, 2015. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Nightly Show outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)