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Roy Wood Jr. Says Hasan Minhaj Was ‘Going’ to Be ‘Daily Show’ Host Before It ‘Fell Apart’ Amid Joke Controversy; Wood Planned to Stick Around Longer

Roy Wood Jr. said on fellow comedian Mike Birbiglia’s “Working It Out” podcast (via Entertainment Weekly) that he was going to remain on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” as a correspondent for more time when the plan was for Hasan Minhaj to be named the permanent new host. Wood surprised fans by announcing his “Daily Show” exit last October, a decision he told Birbiglia came after the plan to have Minhaj host the show “fell apart” amid controversy over an interview Minhaj did with The New Yorker.

“That’s literally why everything fell apart,” Wood said about the interview, which revealed that Minhaj had embellished many “true stories” in his stand-up acts. “As far as I was told, Hasan was going to be the guy.”

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Wood said he planned to stay with “The Daily Show” for “the rest of the year” under new host Minhaj and “we’ll see what Hasan wants to do, what his vision is, whether I fit in that. I’m still trying to sell my own sitcom, trying to write movies, there’s other shit I wanna do, but let’s see.”

The comedian echoed his former “Daily Show” colleague Ronny Chieng, who once called “The Daily Show” the “best show in comedy.” Wood added: “The New Yorker article comes out, and then the buzz is there’s a shift at Comedy Central in whether or not Hasan is still going to be the guy, which eventually turned into he’s not going to be the guy.”

Variety exclusively reported last August that Minhaj had emerged as a frontrunner to take over “The Daily Show” as its permanent host following the exit of Trevor Noah. Minhaj was one of several guest hosts who filled in after Noah’s exit as Comedy Central execs searched for a permanent host. The New Yorker interview published in September, and by later that month Variety reported that Comedy Central was opening up the search beyond Minhaj in the wake of backlash against him.

Minhaj admitted in The New Yorker article to embellishing stories for his stand-up routine. For instance, he told a story in his Netflix comedy special “The King’s Jester” about an envelope with white powder in it being sent to his home. Minhaj thought the powder was anthrax. In the stand-up routine, he said the powder accidentally spilled onto his daughter and she was rushed to the hospital. In reality, he admitted, it did not spill on his daughter. However, he maintained that an envelope with white powder was still sent to his home and thus still ended up around his daughter.

In a statement to Variety made right after the story’s publication, Minhaj said, “All my standup stories are based on events that happened to me … I use the tools of standup comedy — hyperbole, changing names and locations and compressing timelines to tell entertaining stories. That’s inherent to the art form. You wouldn’t go to a Haunted House and say ‘Why are these people lying to me?’ — The point is the ride. Standup is the same.”

Wood spoke to Variety about a month later amid the controversy and said, “I don’t believe Hasan could never host because of his situation. I don’t necessarily agree with that.”

“I definitely think there is a place for him to clarify his intentions, but nothing about what Hasan did, none of it has to do with the content he presented on ‘The Patriot Act,’” Wood added. “Can he show up and do the job? I say ‘yes.'”

Wood also said at the time that his exit from “The Daily Show” was partially due to Comedy Central’s drawn-out search for a new host. That search became longer when plans for Minhaj “fell apart,” as he said on the new podcast, and a prolonged search didn’t jive with Wood’s own career plans.

“What was clear to me with Comedy Central is just that choosing a host is going to take a lot longer than the time I need to get answers,” he told Variety.

“The Daily Show” is still without a permanent host. Jon Stewart just kicked off his return to the Comedy Central show, but he’s only hosting on Monday nights through the 2024 election cycle. Guest hosts will continue to fill in for the rest of the week.

Watch Wood’s full appearance on the “Working It Out” podcast in the video below.

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