An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Trevor Noah's announcement that he would be leaving "The Daily Show" came at the conclusion of Thursday's episode. The announcement was made at the conclusion of his monologue. The story has been corrected.
Noah, who described his time hosting the satirical news show as “one of my greatest challenges” and “one of my greatest joys,” attributed his decision to leave the gig behind to his desire to devote more attention to other aspects of his life such as live comedy shows and touring, which he currently balances alongside his “Daily Show” responsibilities. He didn’t reveal when his final episode will be but said his departure is “not instant.”
“I’m not disappearing. Don’t worry,” he continued. “If I owe you money, I’ll still pay you.”
In 2015, when Noah took the “Daily Show” reins from Jon Stewart, who hosted the show for more than 15 years, loyal viewers were skeptical. Noah was a little-known comedian from South Africa stepping into a rather high-profile seat. Comedy Central’s president noted then that, as a millennial, Noah could speak authentically to the network’s target demographic.
“I sort of felt like ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,’ ” Noah recalled Thursday. “I came in for a tour of what the previous show was, and the next thing I knew, I was handed the keys.”
On his first night as host, Noah assuaged some of the doubts cast upon him. While sure to note that “there’s no way to judge a brand new ‘Daily Show’ on the strength or weakness of a single episode,” former Washington Post television critic Hank Stuever wrote in a review that Noah’s “seemingly smooth debut” made him wonder why everyone had any worries at all.
“It’s too early for Noah to crush it, but it’s enough for now to just utter a sigh of relief,” Stuever stated. “ ‘The Daily Show’ is back, with its essential wit and irreverence intact.”
In 2017, Noah renewed his contract with Comedy Central for five additional years, lasting through 2022. While his “Daily Show” ratings weren’t quite on par with Stewart’s, the network continued to express faith in Noah’s ability to draw younger viewers to the program.
The comedian’s career has thrived outside of “The Daily Show” as well. In 2016, he released his memoir, “Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood,” which became a bestseller and is set for a film adaptation. He also hosted the past two Grammy Awards ceremonies, the latter shortly before he headlined April’s White House correspondents’ dinner — making him the first comedian to do so since former “Daily Show” contributor Michelle Wolf stirred controversy with her set in 2018. (In an episode of the late-night program airing shortly after, Noah jokingly referred to Wolf’s performance as “disgraceful.”)
“When we first started,” Noah said Thursday, “so many people didn’t believe in us. It was a crazy bet to make. I mean, I still think it was a crazy choice. … And what a journey it’s been.”