Jon Stewart announced Tuesday on “The Daily Show” – the series he has turned into a comedy institution over the past 17 years – that he would be stepping down as host of the long-running Comedy Central show later this year. The news came as a shock to fans who have gotten used to looking to Stewart each night for their daily dose of satire. Although the announcement was surprising to many, Stewart may have actually hinted at his retirement a week prior during an interview with actor Bob Odenkirk.
Bob Odenkirk appeared on the Feb. 5 episode of “The Daily Show” to promote the “Breaking Bad” spinoff “Better Call Saul” – in which Odenkirk stars as fan-favorite character Saul Goodman. During Odenkirk’s interview with Stewart he talked about how the anticipation for “Better Call Saul” is a result of a timely end to “Breaking Bad.”
“I think [the fan anticipation] is because ’Breaking Bad’ ended too soon and if it had gone on exhausting people, like many shows do, then I don’t think people would feel the way they do,” Odenkirk told Stewart.
Stewart then made a joke in which he took Odenkirk’s remarks personally.
“It was weird – again, obviously we’ve know each other a long time – that when you said ‘beating it into the ground’ with a show, you were looking at me,” Stewart replied. “It was interesting when you said [‘Breaking Bad’] did it and they got out at the right time and then, I could be wrong, but you kind of leaned in, you winked and said leave.”
Watch the exchange below, beginning at 3:50:
While Stewart's remarks seemed like a joke at the time, they seem prescient in retrospect following Tuesday’s announcement. Stewart touched on the issue of overstaying his welcome again Tuesday in a much more serious tone.
“Comedy Central gave me an incredible opportunity 17 years ago to pilot this wonderful franchise,” Stewart said. "17 years is the longest I have ever in my life held a job… but in my heart, I know it’s time for someone else to have that opportunity.” He continued, “This show doesn’t deserve an even slightly restless host.”
Watch Stewart’s announcement on “The Daily Show” below:
Stewart did not decide to leave the show overnight, and in all likelihood, knew he would be stepping down during his conversation with Odenkirk, giving the interview an added relevance. Though Stewart clearly believes he has been behind the “Daily Show” desk too long, fans will likely contend that he is leaving far too soon.
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