Jon Stewart Signs Off Of The Daily Show
Last Thursday night, Jon Stewart’s final broadcast of The Daily Show aired on Comedy Central. Without a doubt, Stewart’s sign-off marked the end of an era for Comedy Central.
It could be argued that Jon Stewart has been one of (if not THE) most influential news anchors of his generation; funny, as he’s not a news anchor at all. “He’s the guy who always said, ‘I’m just here to sell beer and make people laugh,’” said Michele Ganeless, President of Comedy Central, when asked about Stewart. “But we know – and I think now even he’d admit – that part of his legacy is that, through humor, he makes people see the absurdity in parts of the system and has been able to affect change.” One thing is for certain, Jon Stewart has been the Comedy Central poster child for the past 16 years.
Stewart’s successor, Trevor Noah, is set to step into the spotlight on September 28. Noah has a huge feat ahead of him – not only does he have big shoes to fill proceeding Stewart, but he also is being suited with the task of luring millennials back to Comedy Central (Comedy Central recently saw a ten percent decline among adults 18-49). The Comedy Central folks think the key lies with digital. “We will start moving to The Daily Show not being thought of as that half-hour slot on TV, but having a presence that transcends that location and hopefully being available to people where and when they want to watch it,” said Kent Alterman, Comedy Central’s president of original programming. In other words, Comedy Central needs to find ways to better attract their millennial, digital-savvy audience. Noah will now need to share in that mission.
It will be interesting to see where Comedy Central lands in the next year or two. As Doug Herzog, President of Viacom Music & Entertainment Group has said, “Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show and South Park are the foundations upon which Comedy Central was built.” With Stewart leaving, that could shake up an already shaky network. Luckily, South Park (which debuted in 1997) is still going strong – and is contracted to run until at least 2019. Comedy Central will have to hope that South Park, Trevor Noah and a new digital strategy is enough to keep viewers around – and attract new ones.