Jessica Williams Leaves ‘The Daily Show’ for Her Own Program

By Sameer Rao Jun 30, 2016

Comedian and "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" correspondent Jessica Williams announced yesterday (June 29) that she will leave the late-night satire program to focus on her own Comedy Central show.

"I feel like I’ve learned a lot about myself on the show," Williams told Entertainment Weekly (EW) about her four years working with hosts Jon Stewart and Trevor Noah. "I’m 26 now. I’ve learned so much, I always kind of feel like it’s grad school—a sort of continuation of my education."

Williams, who joined the show at the age of 22, is the youngest correspondent to join and leave the show. She is also the show’s only recurring Black female cast member.

Some of Williams’ most famous segments addressed police brutality, systemic racism and sexism, which she addressed when discussing her legacy to EW:

Well, I know a couple of things: I’m a Black woman. Of that, I’m certain of! But I think a large part of my time here, I’ve gotten to explore ideas that deal with race and that deal with being a woman. I feel like thats a big part of the work that I got to do on the show. It was really fun to try and figure that out—and basically find my voice.

The comedian and actress, who also co-hosts WNYC’s "2 Dope Queens" podcast with fellow comic Phoebe Robinson, departed "The Daily Show" for her own upcoming Comedy Central series. She said the show, which will explore similar ideas to her podcast and "The Daily Show" segments, will focus on a progressive woman struggling with socially ingrained behaviors and ideas of competency:

I’ve had this idea for a while about a young woman who is a feminist and who imagines herself to be "woke." I think that a lot of the time, we have this idea that when you are, like, "woke"—and please always put this in quotations!—that you should always have your shit together. But I know that often for me, as a Black woman of color, I feel like I’m supposed to represent these ideals and values that I was taught as a young lady. Like I’m supposed to carry myself in a special type of way, but oftentimes I’m, like…I’m still in my 20s, and still kind of a mess. So it’s a show about somebody in their 20s who has all these social ideas, but still does not have it together. [Pauses] And she’s, like, goofy and silly and funny!

The main thing about the show is that I’m excited to, in a silly and funny way, be able to explore ideas of feminism and race and LGBT issues—things that I care about and that I talk about on "The Daily Show" and that I deal with on "2 Dope Queens."

Williams’ last "The Daily Show" segment airs tonight (June 30).