Jon Stewart's Biggest Regret About Hosting The Daily Show

jon stewart on the late show

Considering how wildly political the entire world has gotten in the past four years or so, it's almost strange that comedian and former Daily Show host Jon Stewart hadn't ever carved out another TV safe haven for himself. Not that he hasn't kept busy with other duties and projects, and not that he'd even want to return to the same kind of format. For as much as he can reflect fondly at his talk show career on Comedy Central, there are still some regrets.

Specifically, Jon Stewart is somewhat rueful of his experiences on The Daily Show when inflammatory guests were brought in and the show fed into showy arguments rather than strictly meaningful dialogues. Speaking with the New York Times about his new movie Irresistible and other things, Stewart said this about his Daily Show past:

As things progress, to get the same dopamine hit, you have to push it further. Although O’Reilly pushed it pretty far. The question was always, Why would you talk to him? Why do you have him on the show if you can’t destroy him? If you want to talk about the worst legacy of The Daily Show, it was probably that. . . . That’s the part of it that I probably most regret. Those moments when you had a tendency, even subconsciously, to feel like, 'We have to live up to the evisceration expectation.' We tried not to give something more spice than it deserved, but you were aware of, say, what went viral. Resisting that gravitational force is really hard.

Indeed, some of the past Daily Show moments that people looked forward to the most were the episodes whenever Jon Stewart would host another outspoken news personality, which would inevitably lead to hilarious (and sometimes truly meaningful) confrontations where volumes and tensions would rise accordingly. Any time Stewart sat across a desk from a Fox News anchor or a pundit who'd spoken ill of The Daily Show in the past, the fireworks were often fun to watch again and again.

I can understand, however, how those emotionally driven episodes and interviews might not stand tallest in Jon Stewart's mind when it comes to moments he's the most proud of. It's definitely not easy to always take the high road when the low road seems so welcoming and easy to travel on, and everyone is calling you out for not joining in.

As much as fans might want to challenge Jon Stewart into creating another Daily Show-esque series in order to redeem his past woes, it doesn't sound like there's even a table for that option to be on. Here's how he answered when asked by NYT if he was currently interested in becoming a regular part of the political conversation again.

No. I think there are different ways to be in the conversation. I consider a career to be a conversation. Action is conversation, and I’ve taken more action in the last four or five years than I ever have in my life. Sometimes that action can speak more profoundly than a daily monologue. So I don’t view myself as being out of the conversation: I view myself as not having a show. And if you’re asking, Do you wish you had a show? Sometimes I do. But not the one that I had. The one that I had is in wonderful hands and continues to elevate in a way that I couldn’t have. My efficacy for that kind of conversation has passed.

Perhaps most notably in that respect, Jon Stewart has been an advocate for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. He made headlines in 2019 during a hearing when he angrily calling out all the absent Congress members for not being present. The fund was thankfully approved soon after that.

In the years since Jon Stewart left The Daily Show, the Comedy Central series has been hosted by Trevor Noah, who was not so uniformly welcomed in his first couple of years in the job. By and large, though, many viewers now consider the satirical show to be back on stable footing, with no interesting in having Noah get replaced, even during the episodes-from-home mini-era.

Jon Stewart, meanwhile, hasn't been completely absent from later-evening TV appearances. He's always good for a random appearance opposite former co-worker Stephen Colbert on CBS' The Late Show (for which Stewart is an executive producer.) He appeared on John Krasinski's Some Good News with a commencement speech, and also offered some words during the TV special where Dave Chappelle was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. He might one day do some kind of TV show again, though it would probably be something far sillier and scripted than political.

Most notably, though, is Stewart's second directorial effort, Irresistible, which stars Steve Carrell and Rose Byrne. Its original release date was June 26, though we'll have to see how that plays out.

The Daily Show airs weeknights on Comedy Central at 11:00 p.m. CT. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more news, and check out our 2020 Summer TV premiere schedule to see what else is on the way in the near future.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.