Comedian Jon Stewart is quitting as host of U.S. cable television's popular satirical news program "The Daily Show" after 16 years.
Stewart, 52, made the announcement Tuesday during a taping of the late-night Comedy Central show. He struggled to hold back tears as he told the studio audience that "The Daily Show" had been "the honor of my professional life," but that it "doesn't deserve an even slightly restless host."
Stewart recently took an extended leave of absence to direct his first feature film, Rosewater, about an Iranian-born journalist who had been held prisoner in Iran for 118 days.
A well-known standup comedian when he took over the "The Daily Show" hosting job in 1999, Stewart's view on current events attracted a new generation of Americans who had become uninterested and disillusioned with politics and journalism.
The show earned several Emmy Awards during Stewart's tenure, and many of its comic performers who appeared as "correspondents" have gone on to greater success, including Stephen Colbert, John Oliver and Larry Wilmore, each of whom have hosted similar satirical news shows.
Comedy Central President Michele Ganeless issued a statement saying that through Stewart's "unique voice and vision, ‘The Daily Show’ has become a cultural touchstone for millions of fans and an unparallelled platform for political comedy that will endure for years to come."
No exact date has been announced for Stewart's departure.