At the beginning of tonight’s Daily Show, Jon Stewart remarked with a knowing smile that for once, home viewers probably knew something that the studio audience didn’t. Indeed, while the people who attended today’s taping had no reason to suspect anything unusual, most of the home audience already knew by airtime that Stewart would make a surprise statement: He’s leaving the program that made his career. Video of the host’s announcement, which closed the show, is above.
It was clear from the start of Stewart’s short speech—and from his cheeky nod at the start of the show—that it was going to be an emotional night for him. He mentioned that his time hosting The Daily Show was an “incredible opportunity,” and he even joked that his 17 years at Comedy Central were the longest he has ever held a job, “by 16 years and five months.” However, he continued, “it’s time for someone else to have that opportunity.”
Stewart said he’s “still working out the details,” but he did reference that he’s “up in September,” presumably referring to his contract, but he doesn’t know if that’s when he’ll actually leave. What he does know is that he’s looking forward to having dinner with his family and a school night, as he’s heard they’re lovely people. Also, while Stewart didn’t explicitly say why he’s choosing to step down, he did say that The Daily Show “doesn’t deserve an even slightly restless host,” suggesting that he wants to get out before he gets sick of it.
Finally, Stewart wrapped up the show like he always has, with a well-deserved Moment Of Zen. This time, it was a clip that has seen heavy use during Stewart’s tenure at The Daily Show anchor desk: a monkey washing a cat. Fitting.