Why Did Trevor Noah Leave ‘The Daily Show’? His Fans & Producers Had No Idea Until It Happened

Sophie Hanson
Trevor Noah
Photo: Image: The Daily Show/YouTube

He shocked everyone—his staff included—when he called it quits on September 29, 2022. The reason why Trevor Noah left The Daily Show is totally understandable, though it doesn’t make us miss him any less.

Timed almost exactly to his seventh anniversary, Noah departed the award-winning satirical current affairs show on a high with 15 Emmy nominations and one win, as well as being named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People. He had big shoes to fill after the previous host, the legendary John Stewart, left in 2015, but the South African comedian made the program his own. Coming of age under apartheid, Noah felt uniquely equipped to talk about the 2016 presidential election. “I know what it’s like to live in a country that’s extremely divided by race — where people feel like it’s crashing every day and they don’t trust that their president has their best interests at heart,” he told The Hollywood Reporter in 2019. “And we joke about it not to minimize it but to try and heal the wounds. Where there’s no conflict, pain or tragedy, I don’t know what to do. I’m a horrible superfluous comic. If anything, I’m only trained in this.” With all that said, here’s why Noah left when he did.

Why did Trevor Noah leave The Daily Show?

Trevor Noah left The Daily Show because he wanted to go out on a high. On September 29, 2022, Noah read the teleprompter but decided to say something else on the night he announced he was leaving. “Before we go [to commercial],” Noah began, explaining how he’d been chatting with correspondent Roy Wood Jr. the day before, who reminded him that it was their seventh anniversary on the air.

“And I just found myself filled with gratitude for the journey,” he said. “It’s been absolutely amazing, and I found myself thinking about everything we’ve gone through—the Trump presidency, the pandemic, more pandemic—and I realized that after seven years, my time is up.” Gasps could be heard from the crowd who had no idea this announcement was coming. Neither did Noah’s staff, as it turned out. Showrunner Jen Flanz recalled: “He said, ‘I’m sorry,’ and we were like, ‘Let’s finish the taping, let’s get [the audience] out of here, and then we’ll talk.”

Speaking with StyleCaster’s sister publication, The Hollywood Reporter, the comedian explained: “Maybe this comes with not being raised in America, but I believe that everything should end,” he said. “A lot of American business and American media is just like, ‘Keep it going as long as possible,’ but I think it’s healthy for things to end when they’re still in a good place. I want to leave before I’m burnt out because there are many other things I’d like to do.”

After his final episode aired on December 8, 2022, Chris McCarthy, President and CEO of Paramount Media Networks said in a statement: “Trevor redefined the show, as did Jon Stewart before him, and as we look to the future, we are excited to reimagine it yet again with the help of this incredible list of talent and correspondents along with the immensely talented Daily Show team.”

Noah bid farewell to an audience that was, initially, unsure of him as a host. “I realized after the seven years, my time is up, but in the most beautiful way,” he said. “I’ve loved hosting this show. It’s been one of my greatest challenges. It’s been one of my greatest joys. I’ve loved trying to figure out how to make people laugh even when the stories are particularly shitty on the worst days.” He continued: “I remember when we started the show, we couldn’t get enough people to fill the audience. So I look at this now? I don’t take it for granted, ever. Every seat that has ever been filled to watch something I’ve been doing, I always appreciate, because I know the empty seat that sits behind it.”

Trevor Noah

Comedy Central / Courtesy: Everett Collection

Noah hosts the Grammys for his third consecutive year in 2023. He told AP that he feels a bit more comfortable with the gig than in previous years but he still gets the jitters. “The nerves come in because you’re standing in front of not just some of the best, but some of the biggest performers in the world,” he said. “Nerves are part of what I do.”

“I was relieved Trevor came back because it makes my job more enjoyable and easier,” said Ben Winston, the show’s executive producer, calling Noah an “absolute pro” who can pivot gracefully at any moment on a night celebrating music’s best. “He reassures me on a stressful night when a set hasn’t been built in time and I say to his ear ‘Sorry about that. I need you to go an extra 90 seconds because Lady Gaga’s orchestra isn’t in.’ He’ll just naturally flow, make a joke, get up and sit at somebody’s table and chat with them,” Winston said. “That’s a very difficult task which very few people could do — and definitely can’t do with his comedy and charm that Trevor has.”

Harvey Mason jr, the CEO of the Recording Academy said: “We love having Trevor because he’s so darn good at it. He is so personable, he’s so funny. I don’t know how he does what he does. He never stumbles, he never hesitates. He’s always so earnest and heartfelt. He’s also a music guy. You see him when he’s not on camera. He’s singing, he’s dancing, he’s rapping. I feel like he’s one of us now.”

Who’s the next Daily Show host?

The next Daily Show host has yet to be decided. At the moment, it’s a rotating roster of talent that includes Wanda Sykes, Leslie Jones, Chelsea Handler and Sarah Silverman. Specific dates for upcoming guest hosts Marlon Wayans, John Leguizamo, Hasan Minhaj, Kal Penn and Al Franken have yet to be announced.

With regards to who will replace Noah permanently, the hunt is still on, but Deadline reported in January 2023 that correspondents Wood Jr. and Desi Lydic were in contention. Wood will pause his own podcast, Roy’s Job Fair, in the meantime. “This will be the last episode release of Roy’s Job Fair for a little while, while I figure out what the fuck to do in the world of late night,” he said on the podcast. “This is not an easy decision to come to. I went back and forth [asking] ‘I don’t know do you pull a Trevor Noah and say what you’re gonna do beforehand, or do you just do it on the last episode and I figured we’d do it on the last episode’,” he added.

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