‘The Daily Show’ Ratings: How the Rotating Celebrity Hosts Stacked Up

Al Franken, John Leguizamo, Sarah Silverman and the other hosts finished their tenure in late March, giving the show a 13% boost in viewership

Al Franken, John Leguizamo, Sarah Silverman and the other hosts finished their tenure in late March

Since Trevor Noah left “The Daily Show” in December, the late-night Comedy Central program has been cycling through various guest hosts, a bold move that has been paying off in the show’s ratings.

The first wave of guest hosts included a variety of celebrities, including Leslie Jones, Wanda Sykes, D. L. Hughley, Chelsea Handler, Sarah Silverman, Hasan Minhaj, Marlon Wayans, Kal Penn, Al Franken and John Leguizamo.

For the first quarter of 2023, “The Daily Show” saw its ratings climb 13% over the same weeks last year despite not putting a large amount of marketing into each guest host. On the social side, quarterly views jumped 16% compared to the same weeks last year.

While a search for a permanent host is underway, several of the celebrities, including Jones, Handler and Penn, have publicly thrown their hat in the ring to take over the hosting gig full-time. Here’s how they individually stacked up in the ratings, according to live plus seven-day Nielsen data.

1. Al Franken – 792,000 total average viewers

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Al Franken, who hosted from March 20-23, scored the highest total average viewership with 792,000. The former Democratic senator from Minnesota brought in the highest “Daily Show” audience on a Thursday with 816,000 viewers. Prior to that, Franken had 779,000 viewers tune in on Monday, 772,000 viewers on Tuesday and 802,000 viewers on Wednesday.  

2. John Leguizamo –  633,000 total average viewers

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John Leguizamo, who hosted from March 27-30, followed closely behind Franken with an average of 633,000 total viewers. “The Menu” actor drew in 672,000 viewers on Monday, 683,000 viewers on Tuesday, 561,000 viewers on Wednesday and 614,000 viewers on Thursday.

3. Sarah Silverman – 613,000 total average viewers

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Sarah Silverman, who hosted from Feb. 13-16, rounded out the top three highest-rated “Daily Show” celebrity guest hosts with an average of 613,000 total viewers. The comedian had 612,000 viewers tune in on Monday, followed by 605,000 viewers on Tuesday, 652,000 viewers on Wednesday and 581,000 viewers on Thursday. 

4. Kal Penn –  606,000 total average viewers

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Kal Penn, who hosted from March 13-16, brought in an average of 606,000 total viewers. His first night hosting, which included an interview with President Biden, saw 658,000 viewers tune in. Viewership decreased on Tuesday and Wednesday, with 614,000 and 570,000 total viewers tuning in. But Penn received a slight boost on Thursday, drawing in 580,000 viewers to finish out the week. 

5. Hasan Minhaj – 602,000 total viewers

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Hasan Minhaj, who hosted from Feb. 27 to March 2, brought in an average of 602,000 total viewers. The comedian and former correspondent for “The Daily Show” kicked off the week with 580,000 viewers on Monday and dropped slightly to 565,000 viewers on Tuesday. However, Minhaj finished the week out strong with 627,000 viewers on Wednesday and 637,000 viewers on Thursday. 

6. Marlon Wayans –  554,000 total viewers

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Marlon Wayans averaged 554,000 total viewers on average during his stint as host from March 6-9. Starting off strong with 623,000 total viewers on Monday, the “White Chicks” actor brought in 487,000 viewers on Tuesday and 585,000 on Wednesday. Wayans closed out his time as host with 521,000 viewers on Thursday.

7. Wanda Sykes – 548,000 total viewers

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Wanda Sykes held down the second week of rotating celebrity guest hosts, from Jan. 23-26, with an average 548,000 viewers. The comedian received an audience of 560,000 viewers on Monday, 535,000 average viewers on Tuesday and 518,000 viewers on Wednesday, before closing out her tenure Thursday with her highest viewership, reaching 580,000 total viewers.

8. Chelsea Handler – 542,000 total viewers

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Chelsea Handler, a seasoned TV host and comedian, averaged 542,000 total viewers during her time as host from Feb. 6-9. On Monday, Handler received an average viewership of 543,000, and subsequently drew in 513,000 viewers on Tuesday and 534,000 viewers on Wednesday. The “This Means War” actor saw a boost to 576,000 total viewers on Thursday, her last night hosting.

9. Leslie Jones –  535,000 total viewers

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Leslie Jones, who hosted from Jan. 17-19, drew an average total of 535,000 viewers. The comedian drew in 545,000 total viewers on her inaugural night of hosting on Tuesday, Jan. 17, while receiving 533,000 total viewers on Wednesday and 527,000 total viewers on  Thursday. Notably, Jones hosted just three days due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday — one less than the other celebrity guest hosts.

10. D. L. Hughley – 459,000 total viewers

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Hosting from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2, DL Hughley averaged 459,000 total viewers. The legendary comedian drew in 464,000 total viewers on Monday and 433,000 total viewers on Tuesday before subsequently receiving 472,000 viewers on Wednesday and 467,000 total viewers on Thursday.