Nikita Richardson
Updated Apr 20, 2015 @ 7:21 am

It’s safe to say that the late night comedy/news world has taken a major hit in the last year. First there was Stephen Colbert’s departure from The Colbert Report (a time-slot now occupied by Larry Wilmore’s Nightly Show), and then there’s the more recent announcement that Jon Stewart is finally departing The Daily Show after 16 years as not only the show’s host, but it’s heart.

Needless to say, both fans and casual viewers of the show are devastated, but perhaps the blow will be softened by The Guardian’s in-depth interview with Stewart, which ran yesterday. In his first major interview since the announcement, we hear from Stewart not from behind a desk, but at a restaurant with a much smaller audience of one. And the conversation is eye-opening.

“Honestly, it was a combination of the limitations of my brain and a format that is geared towards following an increasingly redundant process, which is our political process,” Stewart told The Guardian’s Hadley Freeman. “I was just thinking, ‘Are there other ways to skin this cat?'”

Apparently not. The interview is a sobering one, with Stewart going on to explain that his leaving before the already-hotly-contested 2016 presidential election was a strategic decision and that he has no problem putting that burden on the as-yet-untested shoulders of future host, Trevor Noah. Still, he mentions that it was a decision that came to him over time, not in one particularly bad moment.

“These things are cyclical. You have moments of dissatisfaction, and then you come out of it and it’s OK,” Stewart says. “But the cycles become longer and maybe more entrenched, and that’s when you [realize], ‘OK, I’m on the back side of it now.’”

While there’s no word yet on what Jon Stewart will do once he’s retired — at the ripe age of 52 — we have to remember that there was life before Jon Stewart and there certainly will be life after. There’s always the possibility that he will return to his stand-up roots (!) or perhaps take another stab at directing, following the release of his first film, 2014’s Rosewater. Really, the man’s resumé reads like a grocery list of awesome — and we think he’ll kick butt at whatever he decides to do.

Be sure to check out Stewart’s full Guardian interview here.

[Image via]