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Jon Stewart will return to 'The Daily Show' as a weekly guest host

Comedy Central has announced that Jon Stewart will return to <em>The Daily Show </em>host chair through the 2024 elections. He's shown above in August 2015.
Brad Barket
Getty Images for Comedy Central
Comedy Central has announced that Jon Stewart will return to The Daily Show host chair through the 2024 elections. He's shown above in August 2015.

Updated January 24, 2024 at 4:32 PM ET

After more than a year searching to find a new host, The Daily Show has tapped the man who built it into a media and show business institution to help forge its next chapter.

Jon Stewart, who hosted the program for 16 years before leaving in 2015, will return to The Daily Show as a part-time host and executive producer through the 2024 presidential election cycle. He'll lead the program on Monday nights beginning Feb. 12, leaving hosting on Tuesdays through Thursdays to the show's correspondents.

But, more importantly, Stewart and his manager James Dixon will serve as executive producers for all episodes through 2025. The announcement says Stewart will "shape [the] next chapter of the franchise" — whatever that means — effectively kicking the question of who might host the show permanently down the road, past the time when Americans will choose our next president.

It's an arrangement which makes sense. Instantly, this announcement reinvigorates the show, and allows Stewart to help figure out a new identity for the program, in the same way he chose Trevor Noah as a successor back in 2015.

The search for a successor

Last year, Daily Show executive producer and showrunner Jennifer Flanz told me that Stewart asked how he could help the show after Noah announced his departure, because he cared about the program and its future. The result was a cameo appearance by Stewart during Roy Wood Jr.'s guest hosting stint.

Stewart's return may also show how tough it has been to find a new permanent host for the program. Lots of people have left late night jobs in recent years as the audience has contracted, including Noah, James Corden and former Daily Show correspondent Samantha Bee.

The program has had a succession of comics as guest hosts since January of last year, but they began to have people repeat in those roles — Leslie Jones and Sarah Silverman did it twice, for example — indicating that they may have even had a tough time finding a wide range of guest hosts.

There were rumors that former correspondent Hasan Minhaj might be chosen to take over the show, but controversies over his past standup specials seemed to quash that idea.

Since Stewart recently left a deal with Apple to do a show called The Problem with Jon Stewart over conflicts about content, he is free to return to a place where he had his greatest success, at a moment when old school fans of the show often post that they wish he was hosting The Daily Show, anyway.

A bid for younger viewers

I also wonder if this arrangement is an indication that the show's turn toward a younger voice — with Trevor Noah and a theme song revamped by Timbaland — might have put the show in a tough spot, as younger viewers turn away from watching traditional, linear TV platforms like cable channels.

Now The Daily Show has its star host back, recalling a time when the program was drawing many more viewers and had more impact. Stewart is widely admired for turning The Daily Show from a more run-of-the-mill comedy program into a show which reinvented how to satirize politics and media. That new style is now found across the late night TV landscape — from people who used to work on The Daily Show, like Stephen Colbert and John Oliver, to hosts like Jimmy Kimmel and Seth Meyers.

It seems that Stewart is back in the driver's seat to find the next iteration of The Daily Show — which might include finding another host as impactful as Noah, Oliver and Colbert. Watching him tackle that task is bound to make fascinating television.

And who knows? Stewart might just decide to come back to his old job full-time, once the election dust clears.

Isabella Gomez Sarmiento contributed to this story.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eric Deggans
Eric Deggans is NPR's first full-time TV critic.