As Comedy Central continues its search for a full-time host of The Daily Show, the network announced on Wednesday that former host Jon Stewart will return to host the program on Mondays, starting on February 12, through the end of the year and executive produce the show through 2025.
Stewart was the host of the show from 1999-2015 and presided over massive ratings for the network that have been on the steady decline. However, those ratings came with a cost, as Stewart’s clown nose on, clown nose off routine has done great damage to comedy and political discourse.
On one hand, Stewart and his political comedy talk show host descendants want to use their “platforms” to discuss issues that matter to them and use humor to get their point across in a way that a dull white paper or cantankerous cable news segment does not. However, whenever someone calls him out on the thesis behind the joke, he plays dumb because he’s “just a comedian.”
It’s a bad habit that is seen in Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, and Jimmy Kimmel as well and it taught liberals that snark in and of itself can be a substitute for well rounded arguments.
The Daily Show has been hemorrhaging viewers since Stewart’s departure and the move to bring him back once a week may lead to an initial ratings sugar high. However, the fundamentals for Paramount remain the same. After successor Trevor Noah’s 2022 departure, the show spent 2023 with a carrousel of temp hosts that consisted of various comedians, internal correspondents, and Democratic officials. It was also recently announced that their correspondents would be back for a second year of such temp hosting in a move that was widely seen as a way to save money. It was rumored that Hasan Minhaj was once seen as the frontrunner for the job, but a fake news scandal involving alleged Islamophobia in America doomed his chances.
It is true that the decline of late night talk shows owes a lot to the advent of streaming and the internet, but it would be naïve to claim excessive liberalism has also had nothing to do with it. Stewart started the trend of the more activist comedy host and now he has been recalled to try to save what he started to destroy.