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‘Daily Show’ Thriving With Jon Stewart, Revolving Hosts & Election

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After winning the Emmy earlier this year for the final season of Trevor Noah’s hosting stint, The Daily Show surprised just about everyone with the announcement that its multiple Emmy-winning previous star Jon Stewart would be returning to host Monday editions during this election year, while other regulars would take turns hosting during the rest of the week.

The multi-host format was born out of necessity following Noah’s departure and a series of what were essentially auditions for a permanent replacement. Unable to land on the perfect choice, producers and Comedy Central settled on Stewart returning and spreading the wealth host-wise to carry the series through this election year.

Ratings are up. It’s working.

Discussing the evolution at Deadline’s Contenders TV: Documentary + Unscripted event were longtime executive producer/showrunner/writer Jen Flanz, co-executive producer/writer Zhubin Parang, and former writer and newly named correspondent Josh Johnson. Flanz explained the rationale behind the changes and especially bringing Stewart back to that very familiar spot at the desk (as well as being an EP himself).

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“Obviously we worked together for 16 years and kept in touch over, you know, Trevor’s tenure, obviously he’s always been really supportive of us even after he left the show,” she said. “But getting him back and getting to work with him again in an election year, you know, is just, you know, there’s nothing better. We’re really excited.

“And [not just] the fact that he’s at the helm, but we also get to put a lot of our more senior news team at the desk on the other nights of the week has just been, it’s really fun,” she added. “It’s a whole change in format. You know, it’s something we have never done before and it really gives us a chance to see the world through a lot of different points of view.”

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Parang, also a veteran of the show, agrees the whole format has been re-energized. “It’s been incredible. You know, Jon is truly, you know, he’s a legend of late-night for a reason, and this type of show is what he built, and so just it’s getting back into a car that was designed for him,” he said. “And you know, what’s so great is it’s not just him, but we get to write for all the other hosts that we have here, and to get a chance to write jokes for all these different voices and all these different comic styles is a challenge in a small way, but in a much bigger way it’s so fun. It’s such a great opportunity to do different styles of comedy, different varieties. Jokes can hit harder depending on who says them, points of view are different, and you can … [put an] an emphasis on issues that they care about, you can write to that. So, Jon has really opened the space for all of our correspondents and all of our hosts to really have fun with the news the way they like to in their own specific voice. You know, I’ve been a writer for the show coming up on 14 years now, and it’s never been as exciting a time to write as it is now.”

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Although he has been behind the scenes as a writer for six years, Johnson was boosted to an on-camera spot this season and he believes he is ready for it. “I think that the biggest difference now is I have a different mind-set of what to think about, you know, whenever the bit comes up, and so now I’m more thinking about performance or thinking about tone or something,” he said. “Whereas when I was writing, I was more thinking about how best to express the idea and everything, and even in rewrites and with notes, how to both like fulfill what was being asked of me by whoever was the person who had to say it while also giving some ground to however their comedic voice works and opening up a sort of lane where we’re saying what they want to say and we’re saying it how they want to say it. And I think that those things, those skills, are what kind of led me to the place that I am now.”

Check back Monday for the panel video.

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