Jon Stewart stunned his fans, and media watchers in general, last night when he announced to his studio audience for that night’s taping of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show that he will be leaving as host. Stewart has hosted The Daily Show since 1999, when he replaced Craig Kilborn. He will be leaving later this year (plans are still being worked out exactly when, according to Stewart’s announcement. Stewart also indicated he has no immediate plans).
Stewart’s departure comes in the wake of Comedy Central also saying goodbye recently to Stephen Colbert, who first became widely known on The Daily Show before spinning off into his own series.
Stewart had taken an extended leave from The Daily Show previously, to direct the film Rosewater. But, alas, this time it’s a permanent leave.
On Twitter, Comedy Central released the following statement:
“For the better part of the last two decades, we 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. Though 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.”
Here’s Jon Stewart making his announcement last night, as a lead-in to the Moment of Zen:
Martin Crook/Comedy Central