WASHINGTON (TND) — Jon Stewart is set to return Monday night to the helm of the show that made him, for many, the political voice of reason for a generation: Comedy Central's The Daily Show.
Stewart took over the show in 1999 after its first two turbulent years with Craig Kilborn, and would host the show until June 2015, transforming it into a juggernaut of late night television and a go-to comedic reprieve from the 24-hour cable news cycle in the 21st century.
The host and comedian was so popular that, in the final months of his departure, even President Barack Obama tried to delay his departure, jokingly declaring an executive order preventing Stewart from leaving the show during his final appearance.
At the time, Stewart cited the grueling time commitment -- working up to 100 hours a week -- and its interference with his family life as well as his growing cynicism with the U.S. political system as the nation geared up for the 2016 presidential election.
“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,” he told The Guardian in 2015. "I’d covered an election four times, and it didn’t appear that there was going to be anything wildly different about this one."
Stewart never intended to leave political commentary behind though, coming back to television through his show "The Problem with Jon Stewart" on AppleTV, where he covered issues like the concept of freedom, the stock market in the wake of the GameStop phenomenon and the 2022 midterms.
Whether it’s standup, the show, books or films, I consider all this just different vehicles to continue a conversation about what it means to be a democratic nation, and to have it written into the constitution that all men are created equal – but to live with that for 100 years with slaves," he explained to The Guardian in 2015. "How do those contradictions play themselves out?
With "The Problem" canceled in 2023, reportedly due to disagreements between Stewart and Apple over his planned coverage of China -- which makes up a fifth of Apple's market -- and The Daily Show still searching for a new, permanent host following Trevor Noah's departure, the long-time program host saw a moment to address both issues.
Stewart told CBS Monday that he sought to return to his old job, on Mondays at least, to "have some place to unload thoughts as we get into this election season."
“I don’t know about hoping to have an influence, but I’m hoping to have a catharsis and a way to comment on things and a way to express them that hopefully people will enjoy,” he continued. Plus, he added, "Who better to comment on this election than someone who truly understands two aging men past their prime?"
He will serve as an executive producer of The Daily Show the rest of the week, helping oversee and craft episodes hosted by a rotation of the program's correspondents: Jordan Klepper, Desi Lydic, Ronny Chieng, Michael Kosta and Dulcé Sloan.