Jon Stewart Thinks Saturday Night Live Gets Too Much Criticism, Calls Himself the “Clay Aiken” of Late-Night TV

Jon Stewart wears many hats — comedian, writer, producer, TV star, and now major motion picture director. The host of The Daily Show sat down with HuffPost Live President Roy Sekoff on Nov. 11 to discuss his upcoming feature film directorial debut, Rosewater, and dished on Saturday Night Live, his relationship with Stephen Colbert, and late-night talk shows.

During the sit-down, Stewart, 51, noted his disdain for the negative commentary that often surrounds NBC’s Saturday Night Live. The comedian, who hosted SNL back in 2002, defended the long-running sketch show against the “unfair amount of criticism” it typically endures. The show has received significant flack during the current 40th season, stemming from botched sketches and maybe-too-edgy jokes.

“In reality that’s like a Broadway show, an off-Broadway show, that they’re producing every week,” said Stewart. 

He praised the show for staying relevant, comparing the NBC staple’s 40-year path to the huge leaps that technology has seen since it started. “They’ve stayed relevant from the journey of time from word processors to Apple watches.”

Jon Stewart on the Daily Show
Rick Kern/Getty Images

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Sekoff also asked Stewart about the imminent departure of Colbert from The Colbert Report, which will air for the final time on Dec. 18. Colbert, 50, will retire his on-air personality to take over hosting duties for CBS’ Late Show.

“I don’t think anything has ever been on television like it,” said Stewart of the Comedy Central show. 

Stewart himself has had several opportunities to host late-night talk shows, including slots that ultimately went to now iconic hosts Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel.

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“I am the Clay Aiken of late-night television — that’s what we do, we come in second,” he joked.

Stewart insists the missed opportunities don’t make him sad, however, and he tries to focus on the future.

“I think part of it is to not think about what you are or what you’ve become or where you’re going…,” he said. ”Always focus on creating that best version of your attention.” 

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