Comedian Roy Wood Jr. has announced that he won’t be returning to his role as a correspondent on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show when the show resumes airing new episodes later this month. This decision marks the conclusion of his eight-year tenure on the show, which he began in the past.
The reason behind this decision is that, since he hasn’t been offered the permanent host position on the show, Wood wants to take some time to contemplate his next career move.
“I can’t come up with Plan B while still working with Plan A,” says Wood, and he doesn’t want to continue as a correspondent on The Daily Show while waiting for someone else to assume the top position. “The job of correspondent…it’s not really one where you can juggle multiple things. [And] I think eight years is a good run.”
When inquired about Roy Wood Jr.’s departure and the concerns associated with his choice, a representative from The Daily Show provided a concise response: “Roy Wood Jr. is a comedic genius and beloved teammate. His insights and hilarity helped us make sense of the 2016 election, the pandemic, and countless hours of Fox News. We thank him for his time with us and can’t wait to see what he does next.”
Wood mentions that he is uncertain if he’s being considered for the position of the show’s main host, and he has already communicated his decision to not return to Comedy Central. (“What could they really say?” he remarks when asked about the network’s response. [They’re] not going to give me the job just to keep me.”) However, if Comedy Central were to offer him the role of permanent host at this point, Wood says he would still contemplate it.
“If you’re offered the chance to host The Daily Show at any point in your life…you have to stop for a second and consider that,” he says, also mentioning that he has not officially notified The Daily Show of his choice. “The next question becomes, ‘What does The Daily Show look like in 2024? And what does late night look like in 2024?‘”
Online discussions among fans have revolved around whether Wood should be granted the permanent host role. This debate has gained traction, especially after reports earlier this year suggested that former correspondent Hasan Minhaj was a top contender for the position.
The program introduced a series of guest hosts in January after Trevor Noah, the South African comedian, departed from the role. However, these guest appearances came to a halt in May due to the Writers Guild of America strike, which disrupted production.
Earlier this year, Wood appeared to be a compelling candidate for the top role, having performed successfully as a guest host on The Daily Show in early April and delivering a notable set at the White House Correspondents Dinner at the end of the same month.
Wood received praise from various quarters for his impressive performance, with headlines like “How Roy Wood Jr. crushed the toughest room in comedy” appearing in the Washington Post. Prominent figures, including Stephen Colbert and former Daily Show host Trevor Noah, voiced their support for Wood as a strong candidate to assume the show’s permanent leadership. In April, Comedy Central shared data revealing that Wood had achieved the second-highest ratings among the show’s first 11 guest hosts, surpassing Hasan Minhaj and second only to Al Franken.
However, in August, Variety reported that Hasan Minhaj, who guest-hosted the show during the week of February 27, was considered a frontrunner for the position, as per multiple anonymous sources. There were also speculations about other comedians who had guest-hosted the show, including Chelsea Handler and Sarah Silverman, being potential contenders for the role.
But Variety reported last month that Comedy Central decided to restart their search for a permanent host from the beginning. This decision came after The New Yorker published an article in which it was revealed that Hasan Minhaj had fabricated and embellished autobiographical stories in his stand-up specials, including incidents related to Islamophobia.
Wood acknowledges that the Variety report regarding Hasan Minhaj, which Comedy Central has not officially acknowledged, prompted him to contemplate his future on the show. However, he still believes that Minhaj is a formidable contender for the position, even in light of The New Yorker‘s article.
“I think Hasan checks a lot of boxes that the network would want and people would want,” Wood elaborates. “Hasan’s young, he’s global and he has the political I.Q.”
The Writers Guild of America strike likely prolonged The Daily Show’s search for a permanent host. The strike forced the show to halt production of new episodes in May, coinciding with correspondent Dulce Sloan’s guest hosting stint. The show is set to resume new episodes on October 16 with a fresh roster of guest hosts, aiming to appoint a permanent host in early 2024.
Wood, 44, became a correspondent on The Daily Show in 2015, making him one of the initial talents selected by Trevor Noah as he took over from Jon Stewart as host. Hailing from Birmingham, Alabama, Wood has headlined three stand-up comedy specials on Comedy Central and has also featured in various TV series and films, including Confess, Fletch, and Only Murders in the Building.
He wants to emphasize that he harbors no resentment towards Comedy Central. In fact, he appreciates the network for collaborating with him on numerous projects beyond The Daily Show. These collaborations have included stand-up specials, the development of two podcasts, the creation of a TV series pilot (although it didn’t make it to air), and the acquisition of three scripts that, unfortunately, didn’t see production.
However, late-night television has recently witnessed the departure of several non-white hosts, such as Desus and Mero and Ziwe, and even Trevor Noah himself. This trend worries Wood, as he believes that as the late-night landscape shrinks, people of color are often the ones who find themselves in precarious positions, being the “last hired” and the “first fired.”
“I don’t believe diversity to be the paramount priority [anymore],” Wood says.
Source: National Public Radio