“Doug Herzog and Michele Ganeless of Comedy Central gave me an incredible opportunity 17 years ago to pilot this wonderful franchise,” he told the audience Tuesday night. “Seventeen years is the longest in my life I have ever held a job in my life by 16 years and five months, the upshot there being I am a terrible employee, but in my heart I know it is time for someone else to have that opportunity.”
Stewart added that there was no definitive date when he would retire from the show. He threw out a series of dates, including mid-summer or the end of the year. The most likely is September, when his Comedy Central contract is up.
“I’m going to have dinner on a school night with my family, who I have heard from multiple sources are lovely people,” he added, suggesting that his departure was in part to spend more time with his children and spouse.
Stewart alluded that he was starting to grow restless with work-a-day aspects of the show. He said The Daily Show audience didn’t deserve a host that was focused.
“I don’t think I’m going to miss being on television every day. I’m going to miss coming here every day,” he said. “I love the people here, they’re the best. They’re creative, they’re collaborative, they’re kind. I love them and respect them so much.”
Speculation will soon begin as to who might replace Stewart. Unfortunately, former correspondent John Oliver is hosting his own program, Last Week Tonight, on HBO. Oliver hosted The Daily Show during a summer when Stewart was directing his debut feature film.
Another option, Larry Wilmore, took over Stephen Colbert’s time slot with The Nightly Show.
Stewart has hosted The Daily Show since 1999. He took over for Craig Kilborn, who left the program to host the Late Late Show.