Rotating-Host ‘Daily Show’ More Popular Than Trevor Noah’s

There's no lose here, and Comedy Central needs a win.
Rotating-Host ‘Daily Show’ More Popular Than Trevor Noah’s

No offense, Trevor Noah, but when it comes to The Daily Show hosts, viewers apparently prefer to spin the Random Comedian Wheel and see who pops up. Deadline compared the ratings for the first quarter of 2023 (with rotating hosts like Leslie Jones, Sarah Silverman, and Al Franken) with the Noah-hosted first quarter of 2022--and the race wasn’t particularly close. Linear ratings are up 13% this year, and the show’s social views are doing even better--a 16% jump. 

So maybe The New York Times’ Jason Zinoman was on to something earlier this week when he asked the question: What if The Daily Show used guest hosts permanently? Zinoman didn’t always think that way -- his original idea was that a current Daily Show correspondent like Roy Wood Jr. should get a promotion to the anchor desk. But the success of the musical-chairs approach, with its variety of viewpoints and the spark that comes from having only a few days to hit it out of the park, has him rethinking the whole thing.

After all, hasn’t Seth Meyers already taken over the Jon Stewart-style daily news takes? For barbed political interviews, Zinoman says, you can just catch Stewart’s own show over on Apple+. What the rotating guest model brings to the table is unpredictability, a welcome change from a Noah show that he believes was “competent (and) charming if a little dull.” 

The people seem down for it. It’s hard to argue with numbers, and the excitement of what a new anchor will bring on a given night --a Wanda Sykes, Chelsea Handler, or Hasan Minhaj -- is an idea worth exploring. (Pssst, Comedy Central -- if no one becomes the irreplaceable star of the show, then no one can command the reported $16 million per year that Noah was pulling down over his last few seasons.) 

Another possible bonus for The Daily Show? Let’s say Will Ferrell or Tiffany Haddish has a new project to promote. Instead of the Fallon-to-Drew-Barrymore-to-Kelly-Clarkson talk-show parade or staying up all night writing sketches for a Saturday Night Live hosting gig, why not drum up some goodwill with a week on Comedy Central? Read a few timely jokes into the teleprompter and you’re gold!

You can even mix and match them -- how about a week of Ali Wong riffing off Bert Kreischer? Patton Oswalt and Maria Bamford doing a 90s alt-comedy week? Reunite Key and Peele for a few days? There are a lot of possibilities, all with buzzy social potential.

And if the novelty eventually wears off? No problem. You’ve just held months’ worth of auditions to see which comic star is most worthy of taking the throne. In the meantime, keep spinning that comedy roulette wheel, Daily Show. As long as the ratings winning streak continues, it sure seems like your best bet. 

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