The news certainly was wildly unexpected.
Deadline understands that Noah told his studio audience of his departure before telling many members of the Comedy Central series’ staff — news that blindsided many.
The Daily Show sources said that it was “imperative” for Noah to share the news with his fans during Thursday’s taping as he wanted them to hear it from him first.
But the fact that Noah told a few hundred strangers, admittedly some die-hard fans but likely including many tourists keen to get a ticket to a show, before he told some members of his production team was hard to take for some.
Noah is thought to have quietly re-upped his deal earlier this year, and he and his team were recently celebrating scoring seven Emmy nominations – the most since he took over from Jon Stewart in 2015.
The comedian evidently is keen to get back on the road, while also trying new things. Noah, an incredibly popular figure on the live stand-up circuit, is performing Friday and Saturday at the Toronto Scotiabank Arena in Canada and has other shows booked in Halifax and Orlando over weekends off from The Daily Show.
He has been ramping up projects at his Day Zero Productions label as well, having recently hired Sanaz Yamin to run it as president, with former Marvel TV exec Devon Quinn hired last year to oversee live-action and animated TV.
Last year, the company said that it had 50 projects in development. Projects in the works have included a feature adaptation of Noah’s book Born a Crime and a reboot of The President’s Analyst, while there was talk of a mockumentary comedy series featuring Noah in the works with Paramount+. His documentary series The Tipping Point is expected to air on MSNBC and Peacock later this year.
It’s unclear how many people knew Noah was planning to make the announcement, but it evidently was a small number. Comedy Central made it clear that there was no timetable for his departure. The rollout of his exit was clearly not as organized as that of James Corden, for instance, who signed a one-year deal to remain on The Late Late Show with a view to a spring 2023 exit.
Noah’s exit, coupled with the coming departure of Corden, the cancellation of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee and the seemingly acrimonious split of Desus & Mero, highlights that there are big changes afoot in late-night.
While Jimmy Kimmel recently signed on to host his ABC show for another three years, and Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers have long-term contracts at NBC, it’s the biggest set of changes for the talk-show circuit in many years. Keep an eye on Stephen Colbert, it seems, and whether he decides to stick around at The Late Show.
For The Daily Show, the question is who’s next. Noah was a surprise choice for the position, which means his successor also could be a wild card. You would expect at least the next host of either The Daily Show or The Late Late Show to be a woman.
There’s also a deep bench of strong performers in the correspondent ranks: Ronny Chieng, Michael Kosta, Desi Lydic, Dulcé Sloan and Roy Wood Jr have all been there some time alongside gonzo reporter Jordan Klepper, who recently told Deadline that he does fancy another desk job at some stage.
On the production side, a new host would be the third for exec producer and showrunner Jen Flanz, who played a key role in the transition between Stewart and Noah and is expected to do the same with any such new table talker.
There’s also the question as to whether The Daily Show remains a linear premiere. The series is one of the few regular, original series left on Comedy Central’s linear schedule, given its parent company’s focus on Paramount+. All of these are yet to be figured out, but you’d bet that Paramount boss Bob Bakish is tasking Chris McCarthy, president and CEO of Paramount Media Networks, to make sure that he gets them right.
“What a journey’s it’s been,” Noah said. “It’s been absolutely amazing.”