Roy Wood Jr. Would Have Stayed With ‘The Daily Show’ If Hasan Minhaj Got the Job

It’s tough to walk away from ‘the best job in comedy’
Roy Wood Jr. Would Have Stayed With ‘The Daily Show’ If Hasan Minhaj Got the Job

Hasan Minhaj had The Daily Show job — that is, until the New Yorker piece came out, Roy Wood Jr. told Mike Birbiglia on the Working It Out podcast. Birbiglia joked that Wood was the guy who planted the story so that he could get the job. Not so, laughed Wood, but the profile “was literally why everything fell apart.”

That jibes with Matt Belloni’s reporting back in October, which stated that Minhaj and his reps believed they had a closed deal with Paramount Global to take over The Daily Show. “Not a signed deal, but he was the choice, they’d closed on all the financial details pre-strike, and only the papering remained,” Belloni wrote. “In fact, Minhaj would have been announced as the new TDS host this summer had the strike not intervened. Instead, both sides sat on the announcement, and then… disaster.”

“As far as it was told to me, Hasan was the guy. It was gonna be Hasan,” Wood said, with Birbiglia confirming that he’d heard the same thing. Had his old coworker landed the job, Wood says he likely would have stayed on The Daily Show, at least at the beginning of the Minhaj era. "Okay, cool, so I’ll hang out here the rest of the year, and we’ll see what Hasan wants to do, what his vision is, whether I fit in that.”

When no hosting decision was made (until recently), Wood decided to move on. After all, “I’m still trying to sell my own sitcoms. There’s other s*** I want to do,” he confessed. But The Daily Show is a hard gig to walk away from. “It’s as Ronnie Chang puts it, and I quote, ‘the best job in comedy.’”

For what it’s worth, Wood ranks Saturday Night Live as the second-best comedy gig. Birbiglia asked if he meant Weekend Update. “Any job at 30 Rock. Any job on that floor,” Wood responded. “When I say ‘best job in comedy,’ I’m talking about what you learn while you’re there, the people that have graduated from those places, and the level of longevity that you could have within that building if you just do the job right.” 

As for the New Yorker story (“a bit of a hit piece,” in Birbiglia’s opinion), Wood had some issues. “As I said to (Minhaj), they flipped over his standup comedy and looked at the nutrition facts,” he said, “and tried to decide whether or not it had the right percentage of this or that.”

Once Minhaj was out, Wood had to make a decision about his future and Comedy Central wasn’t helping. “The question was, what's gonna be the process now? Like, I'm sure you gotta figure out who's on your list. And they couldn’t, in my opinion, articulate adequately enough for me what that process would be and whether or not I fit into that process.”

That “who’s the host?” process was still ongoing when Wood recorded the conversation in January, which makes his decision to walk away all the more understandable. How long was Wood supposed to wait in limbo? He expressed his displeasure at the Emmy Awards, mouthing “Please hire a host” from the stage as The Daily Show took home its prize. 

As of this week, the show finally has a host in place. At least on Mondays.


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