Jon Stewart Leaving 'The Daily Show' After 17 Years

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Jon Stewart

The host, whose contract is up this year, told the audience at his Tuesday taping.

Jon Stewart is leaving The Daily Show behind. The host, who's been with the show for nearly 17 years, announced his departure during his Tuesday taping.

A network statement from Comedy Central president Michele Ganeless read as follows: "For the better part of the last two decades, I have had the incredible honor and privilege of working with Jon Stewart. His comedic brilliance is second to none. Jon has been at the heart of Comedy Central, championing and nurturing the best talent in the industry, in front of and behind the camera. Through his unique voice and vision, The Daily Show has become a cultural touchstone for millions of fans and an unparalleled platform for political comedy that will endure for years to come. Jon will remain at the helm of The Daily Show until later this year. He is a comic genius, generous with his time and talent, and will always be a part of the Comedy Central family."

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Stewart, who joined the network in 1999, turned the Daily Show into a phenomenon when he stepped into Craig Kilborn's former post. It's spent much of the time since as the highest-rated late night talk show among younger viewers, and its become one of the most influential political programs in the U.S. -- despite its satirical nature.

Talk of Stewart's time at the network coming to an end first bubbled up in 2013 when he took the summer off to direct his first feature, Rosewater. Upon the film's release last year, Stewart admitted that the job could often be a grind. "I can't say that following the news cycle as closely as we do and trying to convert that into something either joyful or important to us doesn't have its fraught moments," he said. "But there will come a point where I'm sure..."

His departure comes at a time of big change in Comedy Central's late-night lineup. It was barely two months ago that Stephen Colbert left his post at The Colbert Report in preparation for his new gig as host of CBS' The Late Show later in 2015. The 11:30 p.m. half-hour is now occupied by Larry Wilmore's The Nightly Show. Finding a replacement for Stewart extends the game of late-night musical chairs that began last year when David Letterman announced his own retirement.

This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.