The US presidential election has come and gone with nary a peep from America’s preeminent satirical voice, Jon Stewart. But as Donald Trump assumes the presidency, the beloved comedian and former The Daily Show host is almost ready to resurface.
Casey Bloys, HBO’s programming chief, told Entertainment Weekly yesterday that he hopes Stewart’s much-anticipated project at the network will be ready for viewers early next year:
In terms of Jon Stewart, he really is putting together a whole animation studio. My hope is that it’s up and running and putting out content in first quarter of ’17. Does the election change things? I think it’s more important, now more than ever, that we have voices like that who will parse the information and call out what’s going on.
Stewart ended his 17-year run as host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show last year. In the months since his departure, the once-influential satirical news show, now hosted by 32-year-old South African comedian Trevor Noah, has spiraled into irrelevance. Many of Stewart’s protégés—Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, and Samantha Bee—now have their own successful TV shows.
News of Stewart’s upcoming HBO show has dripped out slowly. In November of last year, a few months after leaving The Daily Show, he signed a four-year, multi-platform deal with the pay-TV network. This May, HBO CEO Richard Plepler said he was “hopeful” Stewart’s show would be ready before the election (it wasn’t). Then, in July, we got some details: Bloys said the show will be an animated cable news parody, with multiple short-form videos reacting to the news released online throughout the day.
Such an undertaking required Stewart to build out his own animation studio, working with 3D graphics firm OTOY (in which HBO purchased equity in April). HBO did not respond to a request for additional details.
The comedian’s absence during this election cycle was glaring. Colbert, Oliver, Bee, Seth Meyers, and others have helped Americans parse Trump’s rise to the presidency, but some have argued that Stewart could have stopped it entirely. Such a claim of course cannot be proven, but Stewart’s uncanny ability to frame politics coverage in a way that is both hilarious and persuasive remains unmatched.
His The Daily Show was routinely among the most trusted news sources for liberals and young people. There’s no guarantee his HBO show will be influential in the same way—or even successful in any way—but millions of Americans eagerly await his next move.
In perhaps a preview of what’s to come, Stewart briefly emerged from hibernation in May to talk a bit about Trump. “I’m not a constitutional scholar, so I can’t necessarily say,” he said, “But are you eligible to run if you are a man-baby? A baby-man? He has the physical countenance of a man and a baby’s temperament and hands.”