UPDATED with video: Jon Stewart closed out tonight’s The Daily Show telecast by breaking the news to his studio audience that he is leaving the show later this year. Here is what he said:

“Doug Herzog and Michele Ganeless of Comedy Central gave me an incredible opportunity 17 years ago to pilot this wonderful franchise,” Stewart said as his audience grew very quiet. “And 17 years is the longest I have ever in my life held a job — by 16 years and five months. The upshot there being I am a terrible employee.

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“But in my heart I know it is time for someone else to have that opportunity. Not right away. We’re still working out the details. I’m up in September. It might be around then, it might be December, it might be July — we’re still working out the details. I don’t have specific plans — I’ve got a lot of ideas. … I’m going to have a dinner, on a school night, with my family, who, I have heard from multiple sources, are lovely people.

“I’m not going to be here and try and sum up what this place has meant to me over the years. I couldn’t do that, and … I’m not going anywhere tomorrow. But this show doesn’t deserve an even slightly restless host, and neither do you. I don’t think I’m going to miss being on television every day. I’m going to miss coming here every day. I love the people here. They are the best — creative and collaborative and kind. I love them, and respect them so much.”

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(“We love you, Jon!” screamed someone in the studio.)

“It’s been an absolute privilege — the honor of my professional life,” Stewart continued. “I thank you for watching it, for hate-watching it — whatever reason you were tuning in. You get in this business with the idea that maybe you have a point of view and something to express, and maybe you receive feedback. That is the greatest feeling you can ask for, and I thank you.”

Stewart began hosting The Daily Show on Comedy Central in 1999, when Craig Kilborn — remember him? — left the show so he could replace Tom Snyder on CBS’ Worldwide Pants-produced The Late Late Show. CBS let Stewart’s option lapse and went instead with Kilborn. Thank you, CBS.

Here’s what Comedy Central had to say today:

“For the better part of the last two decades, we have had the incredible honor and privilege of working with Jon Stewart. His comedic brilliance is second to none. Jon has been at the heart of Comedy Central, championing and nurturing the best talent in the industry, in front of, and behind the camera. Though his unique voice and vision, The Daily Show has become a cultural touchstone for millions of fans and an unparalleled platform for political comedy that will endure for years to come. Jon will remain at the helm of The Daily Show until later this year.”