Why ‘The Daily Show’ Might Be Making Huge Mistake By Hiring Hasan Minhaj

Why ‘The Daily Show’ Might Be Making Huge Mistake By Hiring Hasan Minhaj

Don’t get me wrong. If The Daily Show believes it needs to hire a permanent host to replace Trevor Noah, Hasan Minhaj makes all the sense in the world. Variety reports that the show’s former correspondent has emerged as the front-runner for the job. Based on his four years as a Daily Show contributor and his hilarious tryout run in the anchor chair earlier this year, Minhah would be a more than credible successor.

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But the notion that “The Daily Show needs a permanent host” is a flawed premise. Comedy Central’s huge mistake wouldn’t be hiring Minhaj — it would be hiring anyone at all. The numbers don’t lie: When The Daily Show turned over hosting duties to a rotating cast of comic celebs, including Minhaj, Sarah Silverman, Leslie Jones, Chelsea Handler, and Marlon Wayans, both linear and streaming ratings jumped by double digits over the Noah-hosted shows from a year before. 

The appeal is obvious. Rotating hosts bring in both the comedians’ fans and curious viewers who want to see how, say, Al Franken or Wanda Sykes would handle the job. It’s easy to forget about The Daily Show in 2023 with so many other options to distract us — a steady stream of fresh hosting faces gives Comedy Central something to promote, just as Saturday Night Live starts its drumbeat for upcoming guests weeks ahead of time.

Another benefit for Comedy Central? As the cable channel struggles for relevance, occasionally elevating the show’s correspondents like Dulcé Sloan or Jordan Klepper for a week or two gives the network a spotlight showcase to create new stars. Jon Stewart and Trevor Noah were far from household names when they got the job, but headlining Comedy Central’s flagship show launched them to prominence. So why forge a single new star when you could make an entire cast of them?

As for Minhaj, he doesn’t officially have the job yet, although three different sources tell Variety things are headed that way. For his part, it looks like Minhaj would take the job. “I’m definitely open to the conversation,” he told Variety. “It’s also a family conversation now. It’s a very different conversation than when I first got hired at the show when I was 29.” 

In a strikeless world, Comedy Central would have made its hosting decision this spring. It smartly used the hosting carousel as real-time (and ratings-worthy) auditions for the job. With no shows to air, the tryouts effectively screeched to a halt, so why hire a new host now? Maybe the void of entertainment news would make a Daily Show announcement more splashy today than if Comedy Central waited until the strikes were settled. Maybe it just thinks Minhaj is the guy for the job. But for our money? The best solution would be to keep the host merry-go-round turning.

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