"I'm not going to be on television anymore," Jon Stewart said flatly when pressed Monday to address rumors to the contrary

By Sandra Sobieraj Westfall and Tierney McAfee
Updated May 09, 2016 04:25 PM
Dave Kotinsky/Getty

If the rise of Donald Trump in this presidential election has you missing Jon Stewart at The Daily Show anchor desk, you’ll be disappointed to hear that Stewart doesn’t feel the same – and won’t be coming back.

“I’m not going to be on television anymore,” Stewart said flatly when pressed Monday to address rumors to the contrary.

Stewart, appearing at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics for a taping of The Axe Files, said Trump’s success in the Republican primaries and the prospect of his general-election fight with Democrat front-runner Hillary Clinton have hardly been cause to reconsider his departure from TV political satire last summer.

“I’m not restless,” Stewart told institute director and former adviser to President Obama, David Axelrod, taking issue with Axelrod’s premise that Stewart is no longer engaged in the national conversation over politics.

“I feel like I’m engaged now,” Stewart said. “When you’re not on television, you’re still alive and you’re still engaged in the world. And I feel more engaged now in the real world than I ever did sitting on television interviewing politicians.”

Stewart did offer fans a kernel of hope, hinting at plans to make short, viral-video political cartoons starting in September. “We’re working on technology and animation to try and do interesting and little small bits,” he said. But he downplayed any effect he and his satire might have on the outcome of the November election.

“The October surprise in this election is not going to be a two-minute cartoon that I’m going to release.”

Stewart didn’t shy away from discussing the election during the talk, however, offering up criticism on both Trump and Clinton.

He joked at one point, “I would vote for Mr. T. over Donald Trump.”

Stewart also questioned Trump’s eligibility to run for president, asking: “I’m not a Constitutional scholar so I can’t necessarily say, but are you eligible to run if you are a man-baby? Or a baby-man?”

“I’m not here to be politically incorrect, if they’re referred to as man-baby Americans but he is a man-baby,” Stewart joked to laughs from the crowd. “He has the physical countenance of a man and a baby’s temperament and hands.”

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Jokes aside, Stewart added that Clinton is going to be in “big trouble” if she doesn’t find a way to convince voters of her “authenticity.”

Pressed again by Axelrod on the possibility of a return to the political sphere by November, Stewart replied by quipping, “I mean, I’ll vote ”

For those missing his commentary this election season, Stewart added that “television has never been more ripe with beautiful satire.” Pointing to John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, Seth Myers and other TV hosts, he said, “I am so impressed and amazed at the level of insight and wit on television today.”

But as Axlerod pointed out – there’s only one Jon Stewart.