After a turn as a dramatic film director with 2014’s “Rosewater,” former “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart is returning to stand-up comedy
for the first time in over 20 years with two new stand-up specials for HBO.
Stewart’s last stand-up special, “Jon Stewart: Unleavened,” aired on HBO in 1996. Stewart’s new specials for HBO were announced on Wednesday at the Television Critic’s Association (TCA) summer press tour.
“I’m really thrilled to be able to return to stand-up on HBO,” Stewart said. “They have always set the standard for great stand-up specials. Plus, I can finally use up the last of the Saddam Hussein jokes left over from my first special.”
Stewart’s two-special deal comes as quite a surprise for two reasons: HBO has considerably cut the number of stand-up specials it produces over the years, and just a few months ago, HBO shelved Stewart’s shortform animated series.
HBO used to release stand-up comedy specials frequently, but that has dwindled over the years. According to The Hollywood Reporter, HBO’s programming president Casey Bloys explained why, comparing Netflix’s big spending on stand-up comedy specials to Comedy Central’s in the early 2000s.
“As a category, stand-up specials account for less than 1 per cent of usage on [HBO] Go and Now. It’s hard for me to pay exorbitant prices,” Bloys said. “When prices come down, or when it makes sense again, it’s relatively easy to get back in. We’ll wait it out.”