It’s been a bittersweet year for the satirical-news business. After losing Stephen Colbert to a late-night talk show, it was announced earlier today that Jon Stewart would be leaving his post at The Daily Show. On tonight’s episode, he took time during his pre-credits segment to thank the Comedy Central execs who gave him the opportunity to do the show. “Seventeen years is the longest I have ever in my life held a job, by 16 years and five months,” he said of his tenure. “It is time for someone else to have that opportunity.” He added: “This show doesn’t deserve an even slightly restless host, and neither do you.” Stewart’s contract is up in September; he doesn’t have any specific plans for his retirement, except to have dinner on school nights with his family.
In a New York magazine interview from last November, Stewart said he wouldn’t mirror Colbert’s move:
I’m 51, I have young kids. I think that it’s not something that would be sustainable for me, either through passion or interest or ability, so it would be a bad choice for them and for me. Being up for a job is different from necessarily having the ambition for that job, if that makes sense. Sometimes it’s hard to know what your ambition is because you don’t know what your day-to-day is. I liked the day-to-day of being a stand-up. That being said, I don’t know that that would’ve been a sustainable life for me either. Being on the road that many weeks a year, it’s a fucking hard life. For the time period that I did it, and now, in the way that I can do it here, it’s really great. This job has been really sustainable for me, but not to the extent that I’ll be here forever. It’s not that kind of thing.
He did joke about doing a remake of The Little Tramp. But whatever’s next, one thing’s for sure: We miss you already. Here are Stewart’s remarks in full:
Now, I would imagine as this show is airing, there may be information out there right now that the audience might not be aware of, so I will uh [jowling], just tell you: Doug Herzog and Michele Ganeless, of Comedy Central, gave me an incredible opportunity, 17 years ago, to pilot this wonderful franchise. Seventeen years is the longest I have ever, in my life, held a job, by 16 years and five months. [Audience applauds.] Thank you. The upshot there being, I am a terrible employee. But in my heart I know it is time for someone else to have that opportunity. [Audience groans.] Oh! Dababap! Zabadababap! Dah! I told you, they didn’t know. You probably know. Not right away. It’s going to be — we’re still working out details. I’m up in September, might be around then — might be December, might be July, we’re still working out details. I don’t have any specific plans. Gotta lotta ideas. I gotta lotta things in my head. I’m gonna have dinner … on a school night … with my family … who I have heard, from multiple sources, are lovely people. You know, I’m not gonna be here and try and sum up what this place has meant to me over the years — I couldn’t do that, and we have plenty of time, and I’ve got myriad people to thank and we’ll get to that over time. I’m not going anywhere tomorrow. But this show doesn’t deserve an even slightly restless host, and neither do you. [Laughs.] I don’t think I’m gonna miss being on television every day. I’m gonna miss coming here every day. And this is where — I love the people here. They’re the best. They’re creative and collaborative and kind — and that’s alliterative, but it’s cheating because it’s a ‘K,’ but you understand what I’m saying. I love them and respect them so much. [Someone yells, “We love you, Jon!”] Gah! Anyway! [Grunts.] What is this fluid? What are these feelings? Ahh! Frankenstein angry! It’s been an absolute privilege, it’s been the honor of my professional life. And I thank you for watching it, for hate-watching it. Whatever reason you were tuning in for, you get in this business with the idea that maybe you have a point-of-view and something to express, and to receive feedback from that is the greatest feeling I could ask for. And I thank you.