Two months after Jon Stewart stunned The Daily Show audience by announcing he’d depart his post after 17 years, the soon-to-be-former host explains in a revealing new interview his reasons for leaving the show. Speaking to The Guardian, Stewart talks in depth about his more frequent “moments of dissatisfaction,” a desire to spend more time with family and his “depressing” job as a turd miner.
“It’s not like I thought [The Daily Show] wasn’t working any more, or that I didn’t know how to do it. It was more, ‘Yup, it’s working. But I’m not getting the same satisfaction,'” Stewart admitted. “These things are cyclical. You have moments of dissatisfaction, and then you come out of it and it’s OK. But the cycles become longer and maybe more entrenched, and that’s when you realize, ‘OK, I’m on the back side of it now.'”
Even his viewers’ biggest time of need, the upcoming 2016 Presidential election, couldn’t ignite Stewart. “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 said, adding “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. I was just thinking, ‘Are there other ways to skin this cat?’ And, beyond that, it would be nice to be home when my little elves get home from school, occasionally.”
For Stewart, another perk of leaving The Daily Show is that he won’t have to watch the “relentless” 24-hour news networks anymore. “Watching these channels all day is incredibly depressing,” Stewart said. “I live in a constant state of depression. I think of us as turd miners. I put on my helmet, I go and mine turds, hopefully I don’t get turd lung disease.”
When asked if he’d ever go turd mining again and voluntarily watch Fox News, Stewart said, “Let’s say that it’s a nuclear winter, and I have been wandering, and there appears to be a flickering light through what appears to be a radioactive cloud and I think that light might be a food source that could help my family. I might glance at it for a moment until I realize, that’s Fox News, and then I shut it off.”
When Stephen Colbert was asked by filmmaker George Lucas whether he considered taking over The Daily Show, the former Colbert Report host spoke glowingly of Stewart’s legacy. “I don’t want to be the guy who takes over for Jon Stewart. I’ve worked with him, and my memories of him is that he’s the keenest, most intelligent, most beautifully deconstructive mind — the clearest thinker I ever worked for,” Colbert said. “I would never get underneath his shadow.”
Although Stewart hasn’t set an official exit date, Comedy Central previously announced that comedian and The Daily Show correspondent Trevor Noah would take the helm.