Trevor Noah’s announcement that he was leaving “The Daily Show” was apparently a total surprise ― not only to viewers in the studio but also to his producers, representatives, crew and even the studio’s executives.
At the end of the late-night Comedy Central show’s program on Sept. 29, the comedian announced that he was giving up the gig after seven years and a day as host.
In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Noah said he’d told no one about his plans to leave until that announcement. According to THR, Noah had asked his producers for a few extra minutes at the end of the night’s program to thank his audience and acknowledge the milestone.
“I realized that after the seven years, my time is up,” Noah ended up telling viewers, going on to explain that he wanted more time to pursue other passions, such as travel and performance.
As he was doing this, the show’s staff were in shock, according to THR. Showrunner Jen Flanz, who was seated with the show’s writer and supervising producer Zhubin Parang, told the Reporter that they “lost all feeling in our bodies” as it was playing out. Noah’s representatives were also only just finding out.
“Part of the reason I did it that way is because I didn’t want anybody to be the person who then tells somebody else, who then tells somebody else, who then tells somebody else,” Noah told THR. “And this is where we create the thing. [The show] is where we’re together, our space, and so for me, it felt like the most natural way to tell everybody at the same time.”
In the hours between the taping and when it went to air, Noah spoke to the staff.
“It was exactly what you think it would be: quick and very quiet,” Flanz said.
The only people who seemed to have an inkling were two executives from Paramount, the parent company of Comedy Central, who had lunch with Noah the day before his announcement. One of them, Chris McCarthy, said they had been discussing ways to scale back Noah’s commitments to allow him more flexibility.
Though he didn’t know Noah was planning to announce his exit the next day, McCarthy said he told his colleague after lunch, “We lost him.”
Noah’s end date is set for Dec. 8. In January, he kicks off his global “Off the Record” stand-up tour.