Thursday is shaping up to be a big night for cable television. The ten leading candidates vying for the Republican nomination for president will participate in the GOP's first primary debate at 9 p.m. ET on Fox News. Two hours later, at 11 p.m. ET, the final episode of "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart as host will air on Comedy Central.
While Stewart will tape the final episode hours before the candidates walk onto the stage at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, "The Daily Show" will air almost immediately after the primary debate is anticipated to end. Stewart, known for his sharp and biting political commentary, has previously covered four presidential election cycles in his 16 years as host, and has spent much of his final few weeks lampooning the current field of candidates and pointing out inconsistencies and contradictions in their campaigns. The primary debates have been a frequent target of Stewart's humor. The final "The Daily Show" episode will be 50-minutes long for the special occasion.
The GOP debate will include Donald Trump, the businessman and reality TV star who is currently leading in the polls, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Trump, known for his outlandish and offensive comments, has been a particular source of comedy for Stewart, in part because Trump's blustering bravado often reads as satire. Trump is expected to draw large numbers of viewers to the debate looking for entertainment, and for some, a potential White House candidate.
Although he will be unable to provide commentary on Thursday night's debate, Stewart's final show is expected to have multiple guests, suspected to include former correspondents such as Stephen Colbert, Steve Carrell and John Oliver. The Republican National Committee released the primary debate schedule in January, and Stewart announced his retirement as the host of "The Daily Show" in February. Trevor Noah, a South African comedian, will take over as host in September.