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When Comedy Central recorded the first episode of The Daily Show from Hell’s Kitchen back in 1996 with Craig Kilborn as anchorman, they could have had no idea it would become a national institution.
The show, which turns 25 years old today (Thursday) has been produced in Hell’s Kitchen through wars, elections and even COVID. The Daily Social Distancing Show with Trevor Noah was the first late night series to bring a fully remote show to television, starting on Monday, March 23, 2020 from Trevor Noah’s penthouse apartment on W50th Street. In the depths of the pandemic, his episode featuring an interview with Dr Anthony Fauci had 43 million views.
The final remote episode aired on Thursday, June 17 — and the show will return to its home at NEP Studio 52 (on 11th Avenue between W51st/52nd Street) on Monday, September 13. Today, the old set was broken down at the studios, ready to “reveal a brand new look and feel” in the fall. From 1998 to 2005, the show was taped at NEP Studio 54 (on W54th Street between 10/11th Avenue) — for the first few years, the show’s home was the WNET studio at the Henry Hudson Hotel on W58th Street (the studio was removed in 1997 when the hotel was purchased and renovated and the name shortened to Hudson Hotel.)
The show has had only three anchors during its quarter-century of broadcasting from the west side. Jon Stewart was the longest-serving — taking over from Kilborn in 1998 and then handing over to Noah in 2015.
Stewart is back and recording in Hell’s Kitchen. Last week, he was at AMV’s studios on W57th Street, taping the first episodes of The Problem with Jon Stewart for broadcast on Apple TV+ in the fall.
Many of the original features of The Daily Show — like “5 Questions”, “Moment for Us”, “Dance, Dance, Dance”, and “Your Moment of Zen” — have been lost over the years, but the “fake news” show has collected Peabody and Emmy awards along the way. The 30-minute-long show (extended to 45 minutes in the pandemic) runs Monday to Thursday.
When Stewart left, it was a challenge to find a successor. Many thought that John Oliver — who was a regular on the show and had often filled in for Stewart — was the man for the job. Amy Schumer, Louis CK, Amy Poehler and Chris Rock were all said to have turned down the role.
After Noah took on the gig, he told the LA Times: “Only an idiot would take over from Jon Stewart as the host of The Daily Show. And luckily, I was that idiot.”
The introduction of Noah has given the show a more worldly perspective. His South African upbringing has brought other points of view that have evolved the diversity in the Comedy Central studio. He’s also boosted the social media status of The Daily Show, which now dominates the late night digital ratings.
The Donald Trump years gave Noah a chance to develop his style — and boost the show’s ratings. “This is it, the end of the presidential race, and it feels like the end of the world,” Noah said on the show the night Trump was elected. He said that when Trump arrived, his satire had a new focus, like “Harry Potter had with Voldemort.”
It’s been a fun ride for the presenters. Kilborn said today on Instagram: “I remember having so much fun hosting The Daily Show. My glorious, irreverent sensibility was on display and young America was smitten. Every Thursday it felt like the entire country was watching when all I wanted to do was…Dance, Dance, Dance.”
The show will return to its 11th Avenue Hell’s Kitchen home — with a new set, but the same satire, in September.