Roy Wood Jr Talks His Daily Show Exit and Missing Jon Stewart

It was five months ago that Roy Wood Jr. announced he was leaving The Daily Show after serving as a correspondent at the show for eight years.

Arguably the show’s highest profile correspondent (he had just won rave reviews after hosting the White Correspondents Dinner earlier in 2023), Wood’s departure was yet another blow to The Daily Show following a year of instability that began with former host Trevor Noah’s own abrupt departure in late 2022. A parade of guest hosts followed, then came the Writers Strike, and then–we later learned–after producers told staffers that Comedy Central was finally moving ahead with a new host (Hasan Minhaj), that decision was reversed.

Now Wood is speaking out. In a candid new interview with fellow Daily Show alum Samantha Bee on her podcast Choice Words, Wood described his decision to leave in binary terms:

“I’ve had the gift of choosing to jump out the window a couple times and being kicked out of windows a couple times over the course of my career,” he told Bee. “I have more control if I jump, because I know where the grapple hook is.”

While he was obviously disappointed to have been passed over to host The Daily Show himself, Wood says that moreover he’d lost faith that there were any paths to success left for a show that didn’t have a plan in an industry that’s in crisis.

“Shows are getting canceled, streamers are collapsing, the industry is slowly imploding.” he explained.” And I’m not just talking about late night, I’m talking about the type of programming that studios and networks will show confidence in and stand behind.”

“So that fear is what kind of showers over me,” Wood continued. “It’s also rooted in, if this industry is shifting, and if it’s changing into something different … Now is the time to be first in line for that thing.”

“I’ve always viewed opportunities in entertainment like a grocery store. We’re all in line to be checked out, and then you look over there and a new register is opening. And you’re trying to decide if that register will be faster than … the line you’re in. And I’ve been in this line for eight years, this is a good line, man. But you’re looking over there. I just chose to get out of line and go to another line. And I don’t know if I’m right. I don’t know if that’s the right move.”

“It was the best time of my life,” he added. “But without being able to have an accurate vision for how it could end, I had to choose my ending.”

Wood stressed that he had no idea at the time that Jon Stewart would be coming back on Mondays. “That was not in the conversation,” he said. “That was not even a rumor.”

Had he known, it seems he might have made a different decision. “I do hate that I missed out on some of that good ass Jon Stewart tutelage,” he told Bee. “That would have been dope.”

Wood says he’s currently working on two scripts and a book. He tours one weekend a month.

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