‘The Daily Show’s Desi Lydic Steps Up To The Desk (2024)

Desi Lydic, like the majority of her Daily Show colleagues, was surprised on January 24 when it was revealed that Jon Stewart would return to host the long-running Comedy Central show.

There had been a lot of speculation about who was going to take over the desk vacated by Trevor Noah in December 2022, much of it by Deadline.

But she wasn’t expecting that.

“It was pretty incredible news to hear that he was coming back. It was shocking and wonderful,” she told Deadline. “There were general conversations happening about news team coverage and being prepared to come on in a supporting capacity as a correspondent, but then also maybe have some desk time. But it was very vague. We were checking in with each other, asking why do you think they’re being so vague about this. Then, we came in to an all hands meeting at the beginning of the year and we found out.”

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Stewart, however, decided that he only wanted to work one day a week, a major boon for Lydic and her fellow correspondents Ronny Chieng, Jordan Klepper and Michael Kosta, who would get their own chance at hosting, both solo and as part of desk duos.

Lydic is back behind the desk this week, hosting Tuesday through Thursday.

How did she feel when it dawned on her that she would ostensibly become one of the hosts of the iconic late-night show.

“I started asking questions like, ‘Have you thought this through? Have you run any focus groups and checked feedback? Have you checked my Twitter comments lately?’ Because I feel like someone’s making a huge mistake,” she joked.

Lydic, who recently signed a new contract, has been on The Daily Show for nearly nine years after joining in 2015.

“When I walked into this correspondent job, I never, in a million years, thought I would have a shot at sitting at the desk. But I knew how big and how rare of an opportunity it was and I needed to jump in there and put my hat in the ring and I’m so grateful. It’s pure delight,” she added.

The Louisville, Kentucky native got her first shot behind the desk under the new boss on February 2, the second week of Stewart’s return. She covered the dying embers of Nikki Haley’s Presidential campaign, an ad for Trump’s Victory 47 cologneand the former President comparing himself to Alexei Navalny.

She was back on March 12, sitting alongside Michael Kosta as the show shook up the traditional solo late-night trope, returned on April 2 to cover Truth Social’s billion-dollar stock market loss, the rising popularity of women’s basketball and conservatives losing it over International Transgender Day of Visibility.

She said that she’s learning a “little something new every single day I sit at that desk”.

“Sometimes it’s messy, and sometimes you make mistakes, but you think, well, ‘I’m not going to do that again, let me pivot from there. I’m definitely pretty type A and I like to do my homework, I like to prepare as much as possible. So, the one thing I can get ahead on is just doing research on the guests that I’m going to have on. I like to read the books. I watch the series. I always want people to feel comfortable and ask the right questions and be prepared,” she added.

One of the lessons that Stewart, who is also now an exec producer on the show, imparted to the others is to think of the difference between long-term issues and short-term news, or as Stewart calls it “climate versus weather”.

“A large part of The Daily Show is covering the weather; we’re going to cover the news that’s happening that day and we’re going to hit it quickly and have a funny take on it and move on. Then, there’s room for some larger conversations and, in large part what Jon’s doing on Mondays is really talking about the climate, larger think pieces, a bigger take that’s really saying something about where we are in this particular moment in time. Even though that’s very much John’s thing on Mondays, all of us are trying to think a little bit more about that,” she added.

The Daily Show saw a ratings boost with Stewart’s return with more than 3M viewers watching his opening night. The numbers have remained positive over the last few months.

Lydic, who is repped by CAA and Artists First, said that Stewart has reinvigorated the show. “Some people worked with him when he was here and then there’s this whole next generation of people who watched him religiously and admired him and have such reverence for him and what he built here, but didn’t get the chance to work with him until now. We’re all incredibly excited and enthusiastic to get to work with him every day. Well, not everyday, Mondays,” she said.

She praised the writers and exec producers, including showrunner Jen Flanz, who started as a production assistant and has been with the show for more than 25 years. Lydic called Flanz “our fearless leader” who “was going to have my back”.

However, Lydic admitted that she feels a little bit more pressure as a host than a correspondent.

“When you’re a correspondent, even though I’m going by my name, I’m playing the character of the correspondent. It’s very arch. You can say these crazy, outlandish, absurd things through jokes, through hypocrisy, and you’re protected through the armor of the character,” she said. “When you’re sitting at the desk, it’s a vulnerable exercise, you are yourself, you are expressing your point of view, with the help of 17 brilliant writers, but it’s still your point of view. So, you do have a sense of responsibility. There’s so much joy in getting to do it and having the gift of a platform, which means you can talk about things that matter to you.”

Last month, The Daily Show hired three new correspondents to its news team:Troy Iwata,Josh Johnson,Grace Kuhlenschmidt, as revealed by Deadline.

Lydic knows how they feel. “We got some great talent, I feel very lucky. Josh has been a writer with us for a really long time. Grace is so so funny. She has such an interesting, unique comedic rhythm, and viewpoint. She’s such a great asset. Troy was someone who I worked with on a movie last year, and we became friends. I watched him in some of these scenes on this film that we were in and I all I could think was, I wonder if he’d ever be a correspondent on The Daily Show.”

She said that correspondent is one of those jobs that “no one really sits you down to tell you how to do the job, you just get thrown into it and it’s the only way to learn. We all look out for each other because it can be it’s really overwhelming.”

‘The Daily Show’s Desi Lydic Steps Up To The Desk (3)

Lydic joined The Daily Show just as Donald Trump was getting into politics. She will have a front row seat to cover his latest campaign. She said that the show would be “going hard” this election season. “It’s all hands on deck for at least 30 minutes a day, four days a week, about half the weeks out of the year. The rest is for mental health,” she said.

Late-night is changing and after the cancelation of shows such as Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, Pause with Sam Jay and Ziwe, Lydic is one of the most high-profile women in this world.

What do you think is the future of late-night? “I want it to be on air,” she jokes. “I refuse to believe that late night is dead. I think it’s just changing. It’s evolving. The way people are consuming it is a little bit different. We just have to grow with that. But having Jon Stewart back, that’s a pretty big gift.”

Lydic spent 14 years in LA as a comedic actress. She got her start on 2001’s Not Another Teen Movie, before starring in Spike miniseries Invasion Iowa alongside William Shatner, and The Client List series before starring in MTV’s Awkward.

Next up, she’s starring in Emma Roberts rom-com Space Cadet for Amazon about a Florida party girl who turns out to be NASA’s only hope. Lydic said that she gets to play a villain in the movie. “Whenever I get an opportunity to go try something different. It’s just it feels really good. It reminds me of one of favorite movies of all time, Private Benjamin. I’m Emma’s nemesis, so it was fun to unapologetically get to play bad,” she added.

And she wants to do more, Daily Show allowing. “Any opportunity I get… It’s just good to try something new every now and again,” she said.

Being the host of The Daily Show is certainly one of the opportunities that Lydic is taking with both hands, particularly as Stewart is only signed up to host until the Presidential election.

“We’ve had so many evolutions of the show in the last nine years, we had new challenges with the pandemic, filming from home, figuring out a way to make the show under those circ*mstances, then coming back and last year with the guest hosting. The beauty with all of those changes is that creatively you can stay pretty fulfilled by challenging yourself, and making the show in a new way. Now to be able to have a little desk time, getting to play with my friends and try out duos, it’s like a dream,” she said.

‘The Daily Show’s Desi Lydic Steps Up To The Desk (2024)
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