Trevor Noah’s last episode hosting The Daily Show was in December 2022, though he stopped by the Emmys last week to pick up the trophy for Outstanding Talk Series. While on stage, former correspondent Roy Wood, Jr., who began his tenure on the show in 2015 alongside Noah, and left last year, was seen mouthing “hire a host” from the stage.


The Daily Show has been searching for a host since Noah’s seemingly out-of-nowhere decision to leave the show. Former correspondent and Patriot Act host Hasan Minhaj probably got closest to the gig, but an article questioning the (actual factual) validity of his standup act tanked his chances. As I said when he responded to the allegations of “lying” in his act, we have to call it a hit piece, because it effectively cost him the hosting gig on The Daily Show.” With Hasan out of the running, TDS producers were back to square one with their host search, though now it seems The Daily Show will continue without a host for the foreseeable future. Comedy Central is expected to detail The Daily Show’s future this week, and Variety is claiming they are going to opt for a format in which a team of correspondents take the lead each night, which seems like giving up on a host altogether, which in turn seems like the first step to winding down the show.


Frankly, I’m not surprised. Comedy Central is kind of a mess these days, and late-night shows in general are facing steep declines in ad revenue, a problem worsened by last year’s strikes. But Comedy Central, unlike its network competitors, did not air re-runs of The Daily Show during the strikes, which may have broken at least some of the audience habit of tuning in each night for the show. Other late-night shows like The Tonight Show opted to air re-runs, maintaining the habit, if not the freshness, of the show. 


To call Comedy Central a network these days is generous, though, it’s really more of a production company now. They’re owned by Paramount, and have been affected by Paramount’s layoffs and restructuring, and Sarah Babineau, who was head of content and very popular with the comedians she recruited to air specials, original series, and create podcasts for the network, left in 2020. Comedy Central has been going downhill ever since, much to the dismay of the generation of comics who got their breaks on standup showcases like Premium Blend, and whose first special was often a Comedy Central half-hour. That whole ecosystem is just gone now, wiped out by Paramount’s decline and the pandemic, which messed up everyone’s touring and taping schedules for a couple years. 

But being The Daily Show’s host is obviously still viewed as a desirable gig, as someone may well have tipped off The New Yorker about Hasan Minhaj specifically to prevent him from securing the host’s chair, but I wonder if younger comics were polled, if they even care about The Daily Show anymore. It was a big deal when Trevor Noah took over in 2015, but part of his remit was bringing in a younger audience. He succeeded in that, but the audience he captured is now in their 30s. In this latest host search, though, I didn’t get the impression they were looking for someone with youth appeal (Leslie Jones, Chelsea Handler, Hasan Minhaj, and Roy Wood, Jr. do not have audiences that skew young).


But I don’t think hosting The Daily Show is the gig it once was, because I don’t think Comedy Central is long for this world (neither is Paramount). In the last five-ish years, comics have learned to live without it, and in the last year, the audience might have, too. And there’ s more competition in the satirical news genre, from shows like Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Seth Myers’ popular A Closer Look segment, or even just checking Josh Johnson’s weekly standup set for the latest headlines (why isn’t HE in the running for the host’s job?!). Perhaps we’ll be surprised with a host announcement this week, but it seems likely that The Daily Show has begun its death rattle.