Jon Stewart shocked the world on February 10th when he announced he will retire from his sixteen year position as host of The Daily Show in late 2015.
The announcement comes at a time of incessant turnover in late night television. When Stewart steps down from the Comedy Central anchor desk, it will be the sixth time in a year that a spot in late night is up for grabs: Jimmy Fallon moved to The Tonight Show, Seth Meyers to Late Night, John Oliver to Last Week Tonight, Steven Colbert to The Late Show, and James Corden to The Late Late Show. (And as a sidenote, television executives should probably get more creative with these show names.)
While we’re all mostly sad to see our silly, sweet, silver haired TV boyfriend step out of the limelight, Stewart’s upcoming retirement presents an interesting opportunity for The Daily Show: The ground-breaking opportunity to put a woman on late night TV.
No, Seriously. PUT A WOMAN ON LATE NIGHT TV.
It is difficult to be a female comedian. We see an ever-present double standard in comedy: When a male comedian stands on stage and nobody laughs, the audience most likely assumes that this one particular guy isn’t funny. Whereas when a female comedian’s joke falls flat and nobody laughs, she is inexplicably representing the comedic ability of her entire gender.
When a female comedian gets up on stage and nobody laughs, she is inexplicably representing the comedic ability of her entire gender.
The tired stereotype purporting that “women aren’t funny” has been circulating around the comedy world for ages, despite being repeatedly disproven by smart and funny women like Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig, Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, and countless others.
Women still make up less than 27% of television writers, despite the fact that women watch, on average, 40 more minutes of television per day than men. That’s a striking disconnect between the creators and consumers of content. With women disparagingly under-represented in TV writing rooms, it should hardly come as a surprise that developed female characters in comedic roles are difficult to find.
“Only in comedy,” Tina Fey wrote in an article for The New Yorker, “does an obedient white girl from the suburbs count as diversity.”
With the exception of Chelsea Handler, whose talk show Chelsea Lately aired on the E! Network from 2007-2014, we have seen many a hilariously clever female repeatedly passed over for late night time slots.
It’s time for The Daily Show, a program that passionately speaks out against discrimination and inequality through biting but ruthlessly funny political commentary, to practice what it preaches.
Yes, Hollywood, you heard that right: It’s time.
Here are three Daily Show veterans we think would make excellent candidates for Stewart’s replacement:
1. Kristen Schaal
Schaal may be most well-known for her role as the obsessive but lovable Mel on Flight of the Conchords, but the comedian and actress has also done substantial work as senior women’s issues correspondent for The Daily Show. Schaal fearlessly tackled the way the media addresses women and has an unapologetic but self-deprecating point of view.
A favorite from Kristen: Sexy Halloween Costumes
2. Jessica Williams
Williams has already taken to twitter to say she has no plans to host The Daily Show at this time, but that doesn’t mean a small part of us still secretly hopes she’ll change her mind. What Williams lacks in worldly experience (she is only 25, having joined The Daily Show as a correspondent at the impressive young age of 22) she makes up for with one simple but highly important trait: She is funny. She is really, really, really funny. Williams has consistently proven her worth as a host and an interviewer and would bring a fresh, energetic perspective to the satirical news show.
A favorite from Jessica: Frisky Business
3. Samantha Bee
If experience is what the network is after, they’ll find it with Samantha Bee. She is the longest-serving correspondent still working for The Daily Show and has the wit, know-how and likeability to attract a wide audience. Bee addressed the sexism in late night TV while sitting across the anchor desk from her husband, Jason Jones, who was filling in as anchor when Stewart called in sick, shouting “I should be in that chair right now!”
A favorite from Samantha: An Outbreak of Liberal Idiocy
We want to hear from you! Who would you like to see take over The Daily Show’s anchor desk this year?
(source: Writers Guild of America)