Jon Stewart is leaving The Daily Show. For fans of the show, the announcement was sudden and unexpected. It was, of course, inevitable. He has hosted the satirical news show for the majority of its existence, and Colbert’s move to CBS was a reminder that all good things must come to an end. Stewart has also recently has been working on other projects like writing and directing the film Rosewater. “17 years is the longest I have ever in my life held a job by 16 years and 5 months,” Stewart joked while discussing his departure on-air.
In the 24 hours since Stewart announced his run will be ending, there have been many articles published speculating who will replace him. This is another one of those articles. John Oliver and Larry Wilmore have been named as possible candidates elsewhere, but neither seems logical considering their roles on Stewart’s show led to them to launch their own programs. It would, of course, be great if The Daily Show promoted from within. The show has been a fantastic training ground for comedians and actors, and many current and former correspondents could be well-prepared to take over the show.
It almost seems like The Daily Show couldn’t exist without Stewart behind the desk, but Comedy Central has insisted that the show will go on. It’s also easy to forget that Stewart himself was once a replacement, filling in for Craig Kilborn when he left to host The Late Late Show. Below are some people that could potentially be next in line.
A major issue related to gender inequality is that late night is dominated by straight, white males. There’s been an increased push both in online editorials and within actual TV networks for a better representation of diversity on television. That’s the entire reason The Nightly Show exists, and Larry Wilmore has done a great job at discussing racial issues that are otherwise ignored on late-night talk shows. Numerous posts have already been published insisting that Stewart’s replacement be a woman. There shouldn’t be any reason to preface a paragraph about a qualified candidate that happens to be female, but that’s the sad state of American television in 2015. Regardless of her gender, Samantha Bee could be the best replacement for Stewart. She’s been a correspondent since 2003, appearing on the show longer than any other correspondent in history. Her humor is cutting and goofy, and she’s as skilled an interviewer as Stephen Colbert was in his Daily Show heyday. If Comedy Central is promoting from within, Samantha Bee should be high on their list of candidates .
Lewis Black has appeared on The Daily Show regularly since the Kilborn days to spout his angry form of political humor. He’s loud and obnoxious when discussing political issues, but that only emphasizes his point-of-view. That style of humor, however, can be alienating to a large audience. The “Back In Black” segment is hilarious, but it would be risky for Comedy Central to gamble on Black carrying a whole half hour. Black doesn’t possess the same type of broad appeal that Stewart has. Hopefully he'll at least continue appearing on the show.
Since Chelsea Lately aired its final episode last August, Chelsea Handler has been in the discussion for the many late night TV spots that have been opening in recent months. She was reportedly considered for the Late Show position that Colbert ultimately received. She’s also scheduled to release her own new show via Netflix, but the details of that program have yet to be confirmed. She’s edgy and political enough to occupy the Daily Show seat, and she has enough fans that she’d be a high-profile name to take over Stewart’s desk. Given her current situation with the Netflix show, Handler’s an unlikely choice. Plus, she’s apparently been snubbed by The Daily Show before.
Aasif Mandvi has several years of experience as a Daily Show correspondent, typically branded as something along the lines of “Senior Middle East Correspondent.” Given the current state of international affairs, his expertise in satirizing the international affairs of that region of the world could be a smart and timely choice for the network. Mandvi himself, of course, was born in India and raised in both England and the U.S. That international experience gives him another leg up on a show about, to a certain extent, international politics.
Wyatt Cenac hasn’t appeared on The Daily Show since 2012, but he’s stayed busy with his own projects since leaving. While he was on the show, he was one of the most entertaining correspondents. Most of his appearances on the show were centered around racial issues, but the broader platform could give him more room to discuss other topics. As seen in the clip above, however, he seems happier with the freedom he's obtained since leaving the show.
The Daily Show has always been great for the intelligent way in which Stewart approaches both serious and humorous topics. John Hodgman has similar sensibilities. He’s also, like Black, a regular contributor to the show. He’s familiar with the format, and he’s proved that his style of comedy works within it.
It’s an extreme long shot, but Steve Carell could be a great replacement for Stewart. It’s almost not worth discussing, however, because it’s so implausible. Carell worked at The Daily Show for just five years, before turning into a household name with The Office and then major motion pictures. He’s now an Oscar nominee. Still, he could be great.
Any time a late night spot opens up, Norm Macdonald rallies his loyal crew of Twitter followers to push for him to take over the position. There’s no reason why he wouldn’t do well on a platform like The Daily Show. He’s smart and outspoken, and he has a strange comedic style that would work well on Comedy Central’s late night programming slot. He’s also proven his abilities behind the desk on SNL’s Weekend Update, and Comedy Central’s failed weekly late night series Sports Show.
There are many other options for individuals that could possibly serve as the next Daily Show host, and the world will likely continue speculating who Comedy Central will chose during Stewart’s final months behind the desk. The move could be either safe or surprising, as was the case with CBS’s choice of James Corden for the Late Late Show. Whoever the network chooses will have extremely tough shoes to fill, but hopefully the new host will be able to take the show in a new, exciting direction in the same way Stewart did when he took over so many years ago.