Why John Mulaney Turned Down Hosting 'The Daily Show'

John Mulaney is opening up about what stopped him from taking over The Daily Show.

The 40-year-old comedian was asked to host the award-winning talk show in 2015 when former host Jon Stewart stepped down, but, according to Mulaney, it wasn't the right thing for him to do at the time.

While making an appearance on Doug Herzog and Jen Chaney’s Basic! podcast to promote his new Netflix special, Baby J, the comedian divulged what led him to decline to host the Comedy Central talk show.

“It was shortly after the SNL 40th anniversary,” he said. “I had a sitcom on Fox. They’d aired all 13 [episodes], but it was canceled. It didn’t do good numbers, but at least critics reviled it. So, it was a fun time.”

Mulaney recalled Kent Alterman, the former president of Comedy Central, asking him if he wanted to take over for Stewart following Mulaney's sitcom being canceled.

“I was extremely flattered that y’all were asking me about it,” Mulaney said. “I sensed they would be big shoes to fill. I think I also was gun-shy from putting myself out there at that moment after the Fox run. And I sensed all eyes would be on whoever came after Mr. Stewart.”

He continued, “It wasn’t the right thing at that moment, but I remember saying to Kent, ‘I wish it was five years from now.’ And he went, ‘Yeah, but it’s not.' I mean, I just remember Kent had a great tone of, ‘I hear you. I’m here to hear out anything you have to say, but it’s now, and we’re asking you about it, and we can’t talk hypothetically for that long at this dinner, John.'”

Trevor Noah ultimately took on the hosting role following Stewart's departure and left in Sept. 2022 after seven years on the show.

Mulaney's Netflix special, Baby J is now available to stream.