It’s the end of yet another late-night era: Jon Stewart is leaving The Daily Show.
Ending months of speculation about his future with the Comedy Central series, Stewart informed his studio audience during Tuesday’s taping that he is stepping down as host of the show after 16 years.
EW obtained this statement from Comedy Central president Michele Ganeless: “For the better part of the last two decades, I have had the incredible honor and privilege of working with Jon Stewart. His comedic brilliance is second to none. Jon has been at the heart of Comedy Central, championing and nurturing the best talent in the industry, in front of and behind the camera. Through his unique voice and vision, The Daily Show has become a cultural touchstone for millions of fans and an unparalleled platform for political comedy that will endure for years to come. He is a comic genius, generous with his time and talent, and will always be a part of the Comedy Central family.”
Stewart took over The Daily Show in 1999 from previous host Craig Kilborn. Since, he’s led the show to 19 Emmy Awards, including a record streak of 10 consecutive wins for Outstanding Variety Show. The Daily Show also launched two spin-offs, The Colbert Report, which ended in December (after breaking The Daily Show‘s Emmy streak) as host Stephen Colbert transitions to CBS’ The Late Show, and the newly launched The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore.
Speculation about Stewart’s depature began in earnest in 2014 after he took a summer hiatus to direct a film, Rosewater. His guest host during that time, John Oliver, scored a similarly formated weekly news analysis show on HBO, Last Week Tonight (sort of a Daily Show spin-off at heart).
Ganeless says Stewart will continue to host The Daily Show until “later this year” — let the specuation begin on who take Stewart’s chair.
A Comedy Central rep added that Stewart will address his depature on tonight’s show.
Stewart marks the latest veteran late-night host to announce their depature in recent years. NBC’s Jay Leno left The Tonight Show last year. CBS’ Craig Ferguson stepped down from The Late Late Show in December. And CBS’ Letterman steps down from The Late Show after a record-setting 32 years in May.
UPDATE: Stewart announced his depature on the air, noting he actually first started his work on the show 17 years ago. “Seventeen years is the longest I have ever held a job by sixteen years and five months,” he told his audience. “The upshot therebeing I am a terrible employee. In my heart I know it is time for someone else to have that opportunity … I don’t have any specific plans. I’m gonna have dinner on a school night with my family — who I have heard from multiple sources are lovely people. I’m not going to try to sum up what this place has meant to me over the years. I couldn’t do that and we have plenty of time and I have myrid people to thank … But this show doesn’t deserve an even slightly restless host, and neither do you. I don’t think I’m going to miss being on television every day, I’m going to miss being here every day. I love the people here, they’re the best. They’re creative and collaborative and kind… I love them and respect them so much. It’s been an absolute privilege, the honor of my professional life.”