Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert Nearly Peaced Out on Comedy Central Back in 2012

Damn. These last few years could have been even horrible-r.

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Image via Complex Original
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Imagine the years 2013, 2014, and 2015 without the saving grace of then-Comedy Central titans Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Though the Daily Show and Colbert Report hosts didn't actually peace out on their respective empires until last year, a new book detailing the behind-the-scenes happenings of the iconic satire brand reveals we almost lost them even sooner.

"I don't think [then-CEO of Viacom] Philippe [Dauman] in any way saw what we do as special," Stewart said in Chris Smith's The Daily Show (The Book): An Oral History, as excerpted byVariety Friday. "As far as he was concerned the star is the real estate, and whether or not we are the ones who carved out that real estate and made it valuable is not important to them."

In fact, way back in 2012, contract renewal negotiations hit a major roadblock. When the network decided to take a "tough stance" on Colbert, his and Jon Stewart's agent James Dixon decided to link each personality's negotiations. "Yeah, there was a time when I quit," Stewart said in the new book. Colbert backed up this account, noting that he and Stewart were a two-for-one deal for the network. "How close can you get to it all falling apart?" Colbert said. "I mean, Jon quit and we were a package."

In a chat with NPR earlier this month, Colbert opened up about his decision to ultimately pull the plug on his beloved satirical character. "It wasn't because I didn't like it anymore—I still liked it—but I just thought, I'm not sure if I can actually keep this up without hurting someone," Colbert said. "I thought maybe I would make some big mistake with the character because he would say terrible things."

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