clock menu more-arrow no yes

Why the new Daily Show will be very different from the old one

It's the end of an era. Comedy Central's The Colbert Report ended last December. On August 6, Jon Stewart will host his final episode of The Daily Show, after 16 years on air.

Stewart and Colbert were responses to the Bush era whose shows struggled in the Obama era. They positioned themselves as voices of liberal reason, and frustration, at a time when Republicans dominated politics and Fox news dominated airwaves. But both shows struggled in the Obama era, as they became voices of the dominant political coalition, and commentators on a president they fundamentally liked.

That's why Comedy Central is going in a genuinely different direction with their replacements. Larry Wilmore and Trevor Noah are both talented black comedians with a particular skill at limning America's complicated racial divisions. They are, in other words, responses to one of the most surprising, and unhappy, legacies of the Obama era.

newspaper zoom

The Obama presidency began amid the hope that American politics was finally moving beyond its old racial divisions. Five years later, something closer to the opposite has happened: partisan politics has cut new racial divisions into American life. This was the reality The Daily Show sensed when it brought Noah and Wilmore into the stable. And it's the future being bet on by making them hosts of their own shows.

Check out the video above to see how politics are driving racial attitudes and why The Daily Show had to change.