I hate to burst everyone’s proud feminist bubbles, but all of thesearticlessaying that The Daily Show correspondent Jessica Williams should take over for departing host Jon Stewart are balderdash. There are some good reasons why she shouldn’t, but many writers seem to be saying that it’s simply “a woman’s turn” at that iconic desk. And that’s insulting.
People throwing Williams into the ring as a contender feels very done for the sake of doing it. It feels like affirmative action and I don’t like affirmative action. If I found out that I was hired for this site because they needed a token vagina, I’d be pissed, so it’s a good thing I wasn’t. However, I do like it when people think outside the box and believe wholeheartedly that it needs to be done more. It’s not that it’s “a woman’s turn” at The Daily Show — it’s the right comedian’s turn. If that comedian is a woman, that would kick ass. A woman who isn’t white would be groundbreaking. But is it a requirement? Hell, no.
The names of many potential hosts were floated when Stewart made his announcement on Tuesday night and the vast majority of them included women. Mine sure as hell did. But it’s not because I was trying to make a statement or fill a quota. The women on my list are qualified for the job. Samantha Bee, Stephanie Miller, and Chelsea Handler have real (or real-fake) broadcasting experience, professional improv and comedy careers, and a proven ability to rattle the truth out of people. They’re also women whom I think Viacom executives would actually consider for the job, like in Real Life. I didn’t just Google “lady comedians” and throw them on a list like some people did. Seriously, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are done doing fake news. Let it go.
But the real problem is saying that a woman should host The Daily Show because it’s “our turn.” That’s bullshit. That’s as bad as telling a kid who sucks at soccer to play soccer because no one gave her a chance; she’s still going to suck at soccer, her team is going to lose, and no one is going to come out of this happy. I’m not saying that a woman would sink The Daily Show. I’m saying that a woman doesn’t have to shoehorned into the show for the sake of “giving her a chance.” How fucking condescending.
This is why I don’t think Jessica Williams should host The Daily Show. Some think she’s an “obvious choice” but why? Because she’s funny on a comedy show? Because she’s there? Because she’s a woman, or a woman of color? Or because of all those things, which put together still isn’t enough to qualify for that job?
This reasoning makes Jessica Williams — and of these women — look like the Harriet Miers of The Daily Show host contenders, and that’s all kinds of unfair and terrible.
Williams is clearly a fantastic part of The Daily Show right now. It’s not surprising that she’s been making these lists or becoming the subject of internet campaigns. But let’s put things in perspective: Now 25 years old, she was the youngest correspondent ever hired (at 22) and has been at the show for three years. Since making her debut, she has been killing it; her segments often go viral and for good reason — she’s hilarious. Her deadpan, her fake indignation, her truthiness… it’s all there. But this is just the beginning of her career, and hosting something as revered as The Daily Show is not for someone we’re just starting to get to know. And frankly, I don’t think she’s ready for the gig.
The world is Jessica Williams’ oyster — why the hell would she want to be tied down to an anchor chair right now? She can do anything she wants. Would anyone be surprised if she got her own Broad City-type deal within a year or two? Making her the host of The Daily Show would deny her so many opportunities. I don’t want to see her host The Daily Show because I want to see her do everything else in the world because she can.
After she does all that stuff, then yes, in 2025, make her the host of The Daily Show.
That said, I’m going to make a suggestion that I should have made in my list of potential replacements for Jon Stewart. It’s not because she’s a woman and it’s not because she’s black, but Aisha Tyler should be and basically is on every list of possible Daily Show hosts. Here is why:
She has done everything. Hosting (Talk Soup, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, The Talk, her podcast Girl On Guy, press conferences for UbiSoft), standup, acting, directing, writing, touring, voiceovers — she’s Lana Fucking Kane on Archer. She’s also no stranger to political humor as a former guest on Stephanie Miller’s show, to say nothing of her Ivy League background and comedy roots. Aisha Tyler has cred coming out of her pores. And she once threatened to kick Michelle Malkin in the balls!
Aisha Tyler should be on everyone’s short list for The Daily Show. Seriously. She is qualified as fuck. Let’s start this internet campaign.