Comedy Central Gave Jon Stewart the Deal They Wouldn’t Give Chris Rock

In 2015, Rock wanted to host ‘The Daily Show’ through a single election cycle — today, that’s no longer a deal breaker
Comedy Central Gave Jon Stewart the Deal They Wouldn’t Give Chris Rock

Starting in February, Jon Stewart will return to hosting duties on The Daily Show one night a week in a flexible work schedule that would make any desk worker jealous — including Chris Rock.

The producers of Comedy Central’s flagship late-night show made the surprise announcement yesterday morning that the most popular host in Daily Show history will have a residency at his old gig during the 2024 election cycle and will serve as executive producer into 2025. After spending the last year and change auditioning a circus of guest hosts for the permanent position, the producers of The Daily Show decided to abandon the search for stability and move the series forward with a revamped formula that will rely on their stable of correspondents to carry the series in lieu of a singular star — besides Stewart, of course, when he drops in on Monday nights to steal the show.

Earlier today, The Hollywood Reporter detailed the thought process of the decision-makers who convinced the show’s most formidable veteran to return one night a week for less than a year, stressing that the flexibility promised to Stewart during his brief encore was the key to bringing him back. Meanwhile, Chris Rock is probably saying to himself, “Now they’re okay with temps!”

When Stewart left The Daily Show in 2015, its producers scrambled to find a suitable replacement who could adequately cover the following year’s election cycle that would prove to be one of the most cataclysmic in the history of late-night comedy. Just seven weeks after Stewart announced his temporary retirement, Comedy Central selected Trevor Noah as Stewart’s successor, with comedy A-listers such as Amy SchumerLouis C.K.Amy Poehler, and, critically, Chris Rock among the notable also-rans.

 “I wanted to do it up until the election, and then bye,” Rock would later tell The Hollywood Reporter of his candidacy for the Daily Show desk. “But they wouldn’t let me do that.” As Noah lamented not long after leaving The Daily Show following a seven-year tenure, the demands of daily hosting duties are significantly more strenuous and time-consuming than the vast majority of famously day job-averse stand-up comedians can handle over an extended period of time — including Rock, apparently.

Former Viacom President Doug Herzog, who oversaw The Daily Show at the time, explained that Rock’s aversion to a long-term contract was a deal-breaker, saying, “I thought — and this is where the landscape has changed dramatically — we needed to find the person that could sit there every night, and I didn’t want to be doing this again in six months.” That obviously is no longer the case, as Herzog added, “Everything’s changed, and people aren’t there every night anymore.” 

Well, beginning in February, Stewart will live Rock’s dream of helming comedy’s definitive news desk through a single election cycle before floating off into the famously ill-defined position of “executive producer.” If Rock feels slighted by Stewart’s snagging of his perfect gig, he can stick it to Stewart by starting an Apple TV+ show that people actually watch.


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