The comedian, who recently released his stand-up special “John Mulaney: Baby J” on Netflix, told “Basic!” podcast hosts Jen Chaney and former Viacom Music and Entertainment Group president Doug Herzog that the request arrived shortly after the “SNL” 40th anniversary special aired in February 2015.
Jon Stewart, who hosted “The Daily Show” for 16 years, announced his departure around the time of the special’s air date and eventually left the program that August.
“I think we were floating your interest in that, and you were very lukewarm, as I remember,” said Herzog.
“No, no, no, I was not lukewarm,” replied Mulaney, who added that Fox had just cancelled his sitcom “Mulaney” after one season.
“I was extremely flattered that y’all were asking me about it. I sensed they would be big shoes to fill. I think I also was gun-shy from putting myself out there at that moment after the Fox run. And I sensed all eyes would be on whoever came after Mr. Stewart.”
Mulaney then recounted he had a desire to do the show years later. However, then-Comedy Central president Kent Alterman referred to the decision as one for “now.”
“It wasn’t the right thing at that moment, but I remember saying to Kent, ‘I wish it was five years from now.’ And he went, ‘Yeah, but it’s not,’” Mulaney said.
“I mean, I just remember Kent had a great tone of ’I hear you. I’m here to hear out anything you have to say, but it’s now, and we’re asking you about it, and we can’t talk hypothetically for that long at this dinner, John.”
The show has had a rotating lineup of guest hosts in the episodes since Noah’s departure, a concept Chaney quizzed Mulaney about on the podcast.
“Oh, um, I don’t know,” replied Mulaney on whether he’d like to be a guest host.
“You should be mad they’re not [asking], John, what the hell,” added Herzog, who suggested he’d “get on” contacting Comedy Central about Mulaney.