Wyatt Cenac Opens Up About His Rocky Relationship with Jon Stewart on ‘WTF’
Marc Maron released a new episode of WTF today featuring standup and former Daily Show correspondent Wyatt Cenac, and it’s a fascinating listen for Daily Show fans interested in why Cenac left the job after four and a half years, which ultimately had to do with his not-so-friendly relationship with Jon Stewart. Cenac revealed to Maron that he and Stewart mostly didn’t get along during his time on the show:
And how long were you on The Daily Show?
Four and a half years. Almost five.
And you got along with Jon?
[laughs] On and off?
He was a boss. I think at the end of the day he was a boss.
He was a guy that kind of stayed in his office — it wasn’t like he hung out. I mean, I worked on that show for four and a half years. We never really hung out outside the show. I’d say the longest conversation we ever had was the day I quit, and that was the most real conversation. And it was sad, because I honestly thought in that conversation, I was like “This is how I wished I’d been able to talk to you for four and a half years, and maybe I wouldn’t be leaving now if we had this kind of relationship,” where it just even felt like respect. Because you can be a boss and still respect your employees. It felt like he was a boss, and especially by the end, where it was just like “Oh no. I don’t feel like if something were to happen to me tomorrow, this guy would give a shit.”
Cenac went on to explain that he found one of Stewart’s bits about Herman Cain offensive, but approaching Stewart with his concerns multiple times only made things worse:
I was the one black writer there, and so it was this thing where when you’re the “one,” whether you want to or not you wind up speaking for everybody. You speak for all the black people, but you also — at least for me — I always felt like I had to speak for all the minorities, because there’s nobody there speaking for them necessarily if something seems questionable.
The bit eventually led to a heated altercation between Cenac and Stewart, and while Cenac stayed at the show for a year after that, he told Maron that he was miserable that whole year. He also isn’t sure whether he’ll show up for Stewart’s final Daily Show episode next month:
I still don’t know if I’m gonna show up.
When is it?
You should just go.
I mean, it’s interesting to me how self-aware you are around the emotional components of the situation. And at some point — right? — you gotta take responsibility for that and suck it up in a way.
Yeah. And honestly, if anything, because I wrote that email and because we kind of talked about it, I’m more inclined to go simply because it’s like “Oh okay, yeah, at least now, going, you know how I felt.”
Right. You were honest about it. You kind of cleared your side of the street, and he knows.
Yeah. If I’m gonna show up, I don’t wanna show up with any false pretense. I am grateful for that job and I love that job … but there was also a lot of pain there. So I think in that way I’m glad that I was able to at least, like you said, clean my side of the street and just say “This is what I felt.” And if I show up it’s not like we’re gonna toss a football around or something. [laughs]
Maron — who has his own history of not getting along with Stewart — offered Cenac the following parting advice about Jon’s last episode: “Yeah but dude, if I can learn how to take a little of the love in — and I was a tough nut to crack — you can take a little of the love.” We’ll have to wait until August 6th to see if Cenac agrees, but in the meantime, be sure to head over to the WTF site to listen to the full interview.