Hasan Minhaj Jokes About How Him Losing The Daily Show Hosting Gig Brought Back Jon Stewart: ‘I Saved A Dying Institution’

 Hasan Minhaj conducting interview on The Daily Show.
Hasan Minhaj conducting interview on The Daily Show.

When Jon Stewart exited The Daily Show back in 2015, it was naturally assumed that we’d never see him behind that particular anchor desk ever again. But back in February, Stewart returned to the Comedy Central series to resume hosting on Monday nights on the 2024 TV schedule. This surprising move followed a few months after it had been reported that former Daily Show correspondent Hasan Minhaj was the frontrunner to become the new host. The comedian has now joked about him losing out on that gig led to Stewart returning, resulting in him saving “a dying institution.”

Hasan Minhaj hosted a showcase of various comedians at the Netflix is a Joke comedy festival on Thursday (via Variety), which included current Daily Show correspondent Ronny Chieng, who joked, “I’m surprised that Hasan’s able to do this show. I guess ‘cancelling’ is not what it used to be.” Minhaj stood in the audience and amusingly heckled Chieng, joking about him of planting the story that led to him failing to secure The Daily Show hosting job. He then said:

We’ve all failed in our lives, but have you ever failed so bad, you bring back Jon Stewart? I saved a dying institution. You’re welcome.

For context, in September 2023, a New Yorker article about Minhaj was published that accused him of embellishing stories he told in his standup acts. This article was published shortly after the report about Minhaj being seriously considered to become The Daily Show’s new host, and as was later shared, the deal for him to take the job had been “all but done by late summer.” However, the combination of the controversy from the article and both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes sidelining plans to usher in the new Daily Show host by that September resulted in the plans to bring Minhaj aboard being scrapped.

Hasan Minhaj would later upload a video in October responding to The New Yorker’s allegations and breaking down what he found “needlessly misleading” from it, but by that point, he was reportedly “suddenly seen to be a liability.” Then by late January 2024, Jon Stewart was announced to return, and in a way, Minhaj is correct that he indirectly played a role in The Daily Show’s current success. Stewart’s first episode back, which aired on February 12, netted more than 3 million viewers in Nielsen’s Live+3 numbers, and was #1 across all cable. This was the show’s highest viewership since Stewart’s “last” episode in 2015, and in the weeks since, his Monday episodes have continued to perform well in viewership.

So while it’s a shame that Hasan Minhaj didn’t get to become The Daily Show’s new permanent host as expected, at least he can poke fun at what happened and boldly “claim” about how he paved the way for Jon Stewart to come back and breathe new life into the series. Episodes of The Daily Show can be streamed with a Paramount+ subscription following their Comedy Central airing, and after Stewart’s latest tenure finishes, we’ll let you know what the new hosting plan for the series ends up being.