Jon Stewart discusses lack of diversity on The Daily Show: ‘We kept hiring white dudes’

Comedian realised a proactive approach was needed to diversify cast

Clémence Michallon
New York City
Wednesday 24 June 2020 16:40
Jon Stewart on 4 November 2019 in New York City.
Jon Stewart on 4 November 2019 in New York City.

Jon Stewart has opened up about a lack of diversity during his time on The Daily Show – and how realising that he and his team “kept hiring white dudes” prompted them to take a more proactive approach to make the cast more inclusive.

The comedian spoke to The Breakfast Club, a radio show based out of New York City, ahead of the release of his political satire Irresistible.

When host Charlamagne tha God broached the topic of white men’s role in acknowledging white supremacy and systemic racism, Stewart said in part: “What’s hard about that for people is you get defensive. Nobody likes to be called on their s***, especially when they feel like it’s not really their s***.

“But what you realise is, just stopping active persecution isn’t enough to dismantle. It has to be actively dismantled.”

Reflecting on his time at The Daily Show, he recounted that when he started out, there was “pretty much an all-white staff, all-white correspondents, mostly male”.

In an effort to be more inclusive, Stewart said he and his team had a policy of not displaying names on submissions, “because we thought that’s the way to not be sexist or racist”.

“But we still kept just hiring white dudes – white dudes from a certain background,” he added.

“And what we realised is the river that we were getting the material from – the tributary was also polluted by the same inertia.

“And you had to say to them, ‘Send me women. Send me black people.’ And all of a sudden, women got funny. It just kind of happened. But they’d been funny all along. We just hadn’t actively done enough to mine that.”

Irresistible will be released through video on demand on 26 June in the US and in the UK.

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