Generations, so to speak, of correspondents on The Daily Show, and Jessica Williams won’t be the last. Still, that does not mean that fans haven’t already mourned the loss of one of the show’s wittiest members.
On Wednesday night’s show, host Trevor Noah dropped the bomb; Williams, who has been a part of The Daily Show since 2011, would be leaving after one final personal segment on Bernie supporters turned Trump. The reasons for her departure weren’t malicious or sprung from any kind of disagreement either–in fact, Williams had just landed the star spot on a comedy show of her on, much like the sort that other female comedians like Abbi Jacobson, Ilana Glazer, and Amy Schumer have made, on Comedy Central, Variety reports.
In her too-brief half-decade on the faux-anchor news show, Williams had been considered one of the best and the brightest; she covered everything from racial injustices to misogyny to the wrongdoings of politicians and celebrities alike. In the days since her announcement, fans have posted gifs and videos of Williams’s finest moments as a correspondent–a reporter providing a fake stand-up in front of a green-screen rather than the actual scene–which include her stories on the fallout in Ferguson back in 2014 as well as her famous bleach comment.
When Williams was hired by Noah’s predecessor Jon Stewart, there was no one else like her on the show (though, then again, does anyone else like her even exist?) In fact, The Daily Show had at the same time come under intense scrunity by Jezebel on how Stewart’s cast of correspondents looked remarkably male and pretty white. Before the show, Williams was an intern, but in a short five-year span, she had risen to the top, appearing almost daily in some story or another when Jon Stewart was still in the chair. She had become such a fan favorite that, after Stewart had revealed his own retirement plans, there had been an immediate push for Williams’s promotion to lead anchor.
Williams, though, did not want the job, and the table was given to South-African comedian Trevor Noah (though he often stands now). In the new era of The Daily Show, Williams began to appear less and less, and therefore, the announcement of her departure should come at no surprise. But, then again, some news outlets don’t see it so clear-cut.
Said Variety TV critic Sonia Saraiya in an article on Williams moving on, “It’s worth noting that “The Daily Show,” once a vaunted institution, is losing its most well-known correspondent, just a few months after a comedian with a history of bad jokes about women ascends to the host’s chair. Reading through Williams’ comments to Entertainment Weekly about her departure is an exercise in reading between the lines; when asked about her favorite memories, she reminisces exclusively about working with Stewart. And when asked about leaving during an election year, Williams says: “We’re in good hands as long as we have Sam and Oliver and Trevor. I think they got it covered.” She cites Bee and Oliver, “The Daily Show”‘s rivals, before citing her own boss.”
Without Williams on the roster, the only two correspondents left from the Stewart days are Hasan Minaj and Jordan Klepper. There is no word yet on what Williams’s show might be–though it will be scripted–and when fans of the comedian could expect a release date.