Jon Stewart just quit his show like a stone cold gangster, adding one more late night turnover to a growing list. Reports came out earlier today that Stewart had announced during the taping of his show that he would be leaving the Daily Show after 17 years of hosting. Those of us who weren’t in the studio audience heard the news earlier, but didn’t hear his announcement until the show aired at its usual 11pm time slot.
The announcement seemed unplanned, and Stewart appeared uncomfortable while he made it. He said the 17 years he spent with the Daily Show was the longest he’s ever held a job. But “it is time for someone else to have that opportunity.” Looking down during moments of his announcement, Stewart said that “this show doesn’t deserve an even slightly restless host and neither do you.”
Stewart said he will be leaving when his contract is up in September, or possibly as soon as mid summer, but he doesn’t have definitive plans after leaving other than “going to have dinner with his family on a school night” adding that he’s heard from multiple sources, that they are “lovely people.” He won’t miss being on television every night, but he will miss coming to the Daily Show every day, he said, because he loves the people who put his show together.
After he was done, an emotional Jon Stewart channeled a little Frankenstein, and threw it the Daily Show’s “Moment of Zen” which was a chimp bathing a cat.
But what he didn’t say was why he’s leaving, other than a hint at being “restless.” We saw some mist in his eyes when he talked about missing some of the people he works with, but appeared somewhat cold, detached and even hurried about the announcement. The timing is surprising, both because it is mid contract, and right as the political engines are just about ready to heat up again.
Even more surprising was that he never actually said “I’m leaving” instead opting to imply it with the phrase “it’s time for someone else to have that opportunity.” Maybe we’re reading into things but we can’t help feeling like Jon Stewart just broke up with us, and we don’t know why.