After four years with The Daily Show, rising young funny woman Jessica Williams is moving on to focus on an upcoming project of her own for Comedy Central.
“I feel so many emotions,” Williams told Entertainment Weekly, as this Thursday’s episode will be her last. “I feel like I’m growing up and graduating.”
Host Trevor Noah obviously had mixed feelings about the news. “The sadness I have for Jessica leaving is only eclipsed by the joy I have for her starting her new show,” he said. “If her podcast is anything to go by, it’s going to be an exciting show!”
Williams was a relative unknown when she joined the show in January 2012, but her debut quickly changed that. At 22, she was the youngest correspondent and the first Black woman to work on the series. Now 26, she will be the first correspondent to step down since Noah took the reins from Jon Stewart nearly a year ago. She was such a force during her tenure that there was much speculation that she would be the choice to replace Stewart. At the time, she posted a series of tweets indicating she didn’t think she was ready for such a task, yet.
“Fact 1: I’m not hosting. Thank you but I am extremely under-qualified for the job!… At this age (25) if something happens politically that I don’t agree with, I need to go to my room & like not come out for, like, 7 days… That being said I am super not right for it, but there are quite a few people who are! Can’t wait to stick around & see what happens…,” she tweeted in February of last year.
It looks like her loyalty is paying off, considering that Williams signed a development deal with Comedy Central back in March. It was only a matter of time until she was presented with the chance to headline a show of her own. With several stars including Samantha Bee at TBS and John Oliver at HBO recently departing for greener pastures, letting Williams spread her wings in-house is also partly a strategic move.
“We see her as a great voice — she’s so dynamic and so funny,” says newly promoted Comedy Central president Kent Alterman. “And she’s kind of grown up there at The Daily Show. Rather than say goodbye to her for her to go somewhere else, we want to make sure that we’re developing with her so that when she’s ready for her next platform, it can actually be with us.”
Williams’ new gig will be a still-untitled comedy centering on “a politically-minded young woman who may be ‘woke’ but doesn’t know what she’s doing,” according to the official description.
“It’s a show about someone in their 20s who has all these social ideas but still, like, does not have it together,” Williams explains, “and she’s goofy and silly and funny!”