Watch Jon Stewart’s Stunning 'Daily Show' Departure Speech

"This show doesn't deserve an even slightly restless host, and neither do you," Stewart says while delivering his surprise annoucement

After the taping of last night's The Daily Show, news began trickling out over social media and a subsequent Comedy Central statement that the program's longtime host Jon Stewart had announced he was leaving The Daily Show. We can now watch as Stewart delivers the news to an unsuspecting audience with an emotional, thankful monologue. "I would imagine that as this show is airing, there may be information out there that the audience might not be aware of," Stewart warns before dropping his bombshell.

The first sign that something was afoot was when Stewart bumped The Daily Show's nightly interview a little earlier in the program, giving himself room to make his big announcement at episode's end. "Seventeen years is the longest I have ever in my life held a job by 16 years and five months," Stewart says. "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 he doesn't have a clear end date or any firm decision on what his post-Daily Show schedule will be. "I don't have any specific plans. Got a lot of ideas; I got a lot of things in my head. I'm gonna have dinner, on a school night, with my family, who I have heard from multiple sources are lovely people," Stewart said.

"This show doesn't deserve an even slightly restless host, and neither do you. I don't think I'm going to miss being on television every day. I'm going to miss coming here every day. I love the people here. They're the best," Stewart said in closing out his big announcement. "It's been an absolute privilege. It's been the honor of my professional life. And I thank you for watching it. For hate-watching it. Whatever reason you were tuning in for. You get in this business with the idea that maybe you have a point of view and something to express, and to receive feedback from that is the greatest feeling you could ask for, and I thank you."

Stewart's big announcement comes more than 10 months after David Letterman similarly stunned his audience by revealing he'd be retiring from The Late Show in 2015. Like Stewart, news of Letterman's departure spread on social media (thanks to R.E.M.'s Mike Mills) before the taped announcement was broadcast that night. A month later, CBS revealed that Letterman's desk would be filled by Stephen Colbert, Stewart's longtime partner-in-satire in Comedy Central's politically savvy 11 p.m. hour.

Read Jon Stewart's entire Daily Show speech:

Now, I would imagine, as this show is airing, there may be information out there that the audience is not yet aware of. So, I will just… tell you. Doug Herzog and Michele Ganeless of Comedy Central gave me an incredible opportunity 17 years ago to pilot this wonderful franchise. And, 17 years is the longest that I have ever in my life held a job by 16 years and five months. Thank you. 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.

I told you they didn't know. You probably know. Not right away. We're still working on details. I'm up in September - it might be then. It might be December. It might be July. We're still working out details. I don’t have any specific plans. I gotta a lot of ideas. I've got a lot of things in my head. I'm going to have dinner on a school night with my family, who I have heard from multiple sources are lovely people. I'm not going to be here and try to sum up what this place has meant to me over the years. I couldn't do that and we've got plenty of time and I've got a myriad people to thank and we'll get to that over time. I’m not going anywhere tomorrow. But this show doesn’t deserve an even slightly restless host and neither do you.

I don't think I'm going to miss being on television every day. I'm going to miss coming here every day. This is where… I love the people here. They're the best. They’re creative and collaborative and kind – that's alliterative but it's cheating because that's a "K." You understand what I'm saying. I love them and respect them so much.

What is this fluid? What are these feelings? Ahh. Frankenstein angry. It's been an absolute privilege. It’s been the honor of my professional life. And I thank you for watching it, for hate-watching it. Whatever reason you were tuning in for – you get into this business thinking that maybe you have a point of view and something to express and to receive feedback from that is the greatest feeling you could ask for and I thank you. Here it is, your moment of zen.