Now that we’ve had enough time to collectively process the prospect of a Jon Stewart-free The Daily Show, the comedian sat down with The Guardian writer Hadley Freeman for an article published yesterday, to talk at length about his decision to quit the show he’s helmed since 1999. It’s weird to contemplate – he took a show known for celebrity jokes and snarky interviews and turned it into the premier political satire of its era, guaranteeing himself perpetual employment if he wants it. But his list of grievances will not come as a shock. Decreased professional fulfillment, fatigue from covering elections with seemingly identical narratives, and plain old depression, it’s clear he’s plain exhausted. Even so, his comments on the job that made him a household name are funny.
On feeling less satisfied with the job – “Honestly, it was a combination of the limitations of my brain and a format that is geared towards following an increasingly redundant process, which is our political process. I was just thinking, ‘Are there other ways to skin this cat?’”
On the upcoming presidential election – “I’d covered an election four times, and it didn’t appear that there was going to be anything wildly different about this one”
On he political news networks – “[MSNBC is better than Fox] because it’s not steeped in distortion and ignorance as a virtue. But they’re both relentless and built for 9/11. So, in the absence of such a catastrophic event, they take the nothing and amplify it and make it craziness.”
On the toll the job takes – “Watching these channels all day is incredibly depressing… I live in a constant state of depression. I think of us as turd miners. I put on my helmet, I go and mine turds, hopefully I don’t get turd lung disease.”
Stewart’s eventual replacement is South African comedian Trevor Noah, who became embroiled in controversy over several very in-poor-taste jokes tweeted between 2009 and 2014 that were criticized for, among other things, anti-semitism, sexism and homophobia. Stewart defended Noah vigorously, essentially begging viewers to give him a chance, and since then the furor seems to have dissipated somewhat. Stewart will be taping his final episode later in the year.