Quit while you’re ahead. It’s a simple life lesson that TV executives should start adhering to, especially when it comes to preserving a legacy.
On Monday night, a somewhat popular South African stand-up comedian named Trevor Noah will take over Comedy Central’s news satire program, “The Daily Show,” from its longtime host, Jon Stewart. Now that most fans of “The Daily Show” have learned who Trevor Noah is, one lingering question still remains: Why would Comedy Central hire a barely known, non-American funny man with no prior hosting experience to replace Jon freaking Stewart?
Well, let’s try to apply some basic reasoning: From Jan. 11, 1999 to his last show on Aug. 6, Jon Stewart grew into an esteemed host of the Daily Show. Alongside his team of fake reporters, Stewart turned a fledgling farce into a thoughtful and hilarious talk show institution, from which most young Americans got their daily intake of news. That means Comedy Central’s fat cats could never let “The Daily Show” die with dignity and end its 16-year run on a high note, right?
In 2005, one of Stewart’s proteges, Stephen Colbert, broke free from “The Daily Show” and started his own news-lambasting talk show called “The Colbert Report.” Colbert’s popularity rose throughout the past decade; at times overshadowing Stewart’s success. Then, last year, Colbert was announced as the replacement for CBS late-night icon, David Letterman. Now that Colbert is gone from the news satire scene, “The Daily Show” is really the only series left of its kind. That means it’s just too big to end with Stewart’s departure, right?
Well, the network’s intentions are probably far less noble. In fact, it’s pretty obvious that — although Stewart suggested him — Noah got the job because Comedy Central doesn’t want the money to stop flowing. So many comedians turned down offers to host “The Daily Show” that Noah’s “yes” must have looked like an oasis in a desert of “no, thank you.”
Fortunately, Noah’s inexperience might actually help him in his premiere tonight. As the Associated Press reports, Stewart left because he was tired. Therefore, “The Daily Show” itself was probably getting pretty old. At least Noah’s presence will shake up the series’ tried-and-true format of finding the punchline in political news stories. And, as a South African, Noah will be an outsider looking in, giving us American plebs his unique perspective on news headlines that anyone outside of the U.S. would find absolutely ridiculous.
No matter how well Noah might do as a host (or how strong our appetite is for satire news), it still doesn’t justify Comedy Central’s move. “The Daily Show” should have ended when Stewart quit, just like “The Office” should have wrapped a few episodes after main character Michael Scott (Steve Carell) left. Instead, it went on for two more terrible seasons. The same sentiment applies to “Seinfeld,” “Heroes,” “Friends,” “Dexter” and thousands of other TV shows that strike gold and don’t know how (or when) to stop.
Anyways, good luck to you, Mr. Noah. His first guest will be fellow stand-up comedian Kevin Hart. The rest of this week will feature Gov. Chris Christie and musician Bryan Adams, among others.