A pop culture snark-fest under its original host, Craig Kilborn, “The Daily Show” evolved into a topical satire after Stewart took over in 1999, and it became a news source for portions of its audience, even as Stewart maintained that his primary goal was to entertain, not inform. It was also a prolific talent incubator: Alumni including Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Samantha Bee and Hasan Minhaj went on to host their own shows. Others, like Steve Carell, Ed Helms and Jessica Williams, found success in Hollywood.
It was another former “Daily Show” correspondent, Noah, who succeeded Stewart as host. But the show’s ratings and profile declined, part of a general downturn in the cultural relevance of late-night shows in the streaming age. At the same time, Stewart’s own post-“Daily Show” professional efforts have been lackluster. A deal to develop a topical animated show for HBO went nowhere, and his talk show for Apple TV+, “The Problem With Jon Stewart,” ended last year after 20 episodes when Stewart and Apple executives disagreed over the show’s creative direction.
There was perhaps a subtle reference to Stewart’s previous job on “The Daily Show” on Monday night. “We’re going to have so much we’re going to talk about this year,” he said. “Obviously, the elections, maybe we’ll talk about China, maybe we’ll talk about A.I., maybe something a little lighter, Israel-Palestine.” Artificial intelligence and China were two of the subjects that created friction at “The Problem.”
“The Problem” never got much traction, aside from generating a few viral interview clips and receiving an Emmy nomination last year for outstanding variety talk series. In a twist, that award went instead to “The Daily Show,” the only time the Noah version won. Stewart’s “Daily Show” won the award for outstanding variety series award 10 times in a row, from 2003 to 2012.
In an interview on “CBS Mornings” on Monday, Stewart said he is returning to “The Daily Show” because he wants a platform during the election.