Comedy Central Could Seek ‘Daily Show Successor From Outside Ranks

Trevor Noah’s successor may be someone “Daily Show” viewers haven’t seen on the program in some time — if ever.

Comedy Central, which has already indicated it is considering the show’s current group of faux “correspondents” and contributors as potential candidates to succeed current host Trevor Noah, is also mulling contenders from outside their ranks, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Paramount Global network could look for a host well-versed in political comedy, or simply someone who has straddled the divide between Hollywood and Washington. People like Samantha Bee, the former “Daily Show” correspondent who went on to host her own topical-comedy showcase on Warner Bros. Discovery’s TBS (cancelled just this past July), or Kal Penn, the actor who logged a stint in the Obama administration and hosted a short-lived late-night show on Disney’s Freeform, could have the experience Comedy Central is seeking.

A representative for Bee declined to comment about her potential interest in returning to “Daily,” and Dan Spilo, a manager for Penn, did not respond to a query seeking comment.

Executives at Comedy Central have tread this path in the past. When the network was considering a replacement for Jon Stewart, people involved in the process mulled popular choices such as Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and Chris Rock, while keeping a corporate eye on talent already associated with the program. Noah was early in his tenure as a “Daily Show” correspondent when he was awarded the show’s top job.

A single host is not likely to be in place when “Daily” starts a new run without Noah at the helm. His last on-air appearance as the host is expected to take place December 8. After that broadcast, the show will go on hiatus and resume in mid-January as part of what Comedy Central has billed as a “reinvention.” As part of that process, the network is likely to experiment with groups of its current correspondents at the helm, potentially in arrangements of two or three. There has been some speculation that Comedy Central might consider Roy Wood, Jr., one of the current correspondents, or Jordan Klepper, a contributor who once led a post-“Daily” program called “The Opposition.”

Comedy Central declined to make executives available for comment. In a statement the network has issued in the past, it said: “In time, we will turn to the next chapter of ‘The Daily Show,’ and all of our incredible correspondents will be at the top of that list. Until then, we are focused on celebrating Trevor and thanking him for his many contributions.”

To snag the ultimate “Daily Show” job, candidates need to impress an array of executives. Among those said to have influence on the new choice for the program are Ari Pearce, the network’s vice president of talent and development; Jen Flanz, the executive producer of “Daily Show”; and Trevor Rose, the executive vice president of talent and content development for Paramount Global. Nina L. Diaz, a longtime Paramount executive who is the chief creative officer of the company’s entertainment-focused cable networks, and Chris McCarthy, the president and CEO of MTV Entertainment Group, are integrally tied to the decision as well.

Noah surprised viewers and the show’s own staff in late September when he told an in-studio audience he intended to exit the program he inherited from Stewart. “I found myself thinking throughout the time of everything we’ve gone through,” the host said while making his revelation. “The Trump presidency, the pandemic, just the journey, more pandemic and I realize that after the seven years, my time is up.”

His departure draws new scrutiny to TV’s roster of late-night shows, which has begun to shrink. At Warner Bros. Discovery, executives have scuttled late-night shows led by both Bee and Conan O’Brien, and have made no public effort to replace either. Comedy Central once boasted three different programs, led by Stewart, Colbert and Chris Hardwick. Now the cable network is down to just one. Showtime’s “Desus & Mero” recently stopped production. James Corden has already indicated he plans to step down from CBS’ “The Late Late Show” next year, and NBC is no longer in the business of airing comedy programming at 1:30 a.m. after parting ways with Lilly Singh in 2021. To be sure, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert continue their wee-hours antics and Fox News has found traction with a panel show led by Greg Gutfeld that airs on the east coast at 11 p.m.

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