Mr. Stewart, host of “The Daily Show,” and Mr. Colbert, host of “The Colbert Report,” will have to improvise their monologues and interviews without the help of their writing staffs.
In a statement, Comedy Central said, “We continue to hold out hope for a swift resolution to the current stalemate that will enable the shows to be complete again.”
It was unclear why the two men decided to return. The announcement came days after the NBC hosts Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien and the ABC host Jimmy Kimmel said they would resume their late-night shows on Jan. 2.
The CBS hosts David Letterman and Craig Ferguson are also expected to return on Jan. 2. Mr. Letterman’s production company is scheduled to meet with the writers’ guild on Friday to discuss an interim agreement that would allow writers for the two shows to resume work.
A Comedy Central spokesman declined to say whether it had pursued a deal with the guild.
Both Mr. Stewart and Mr. Colbert are known for their political barbs and comedic campaign coverage, and their programs will resume one day before the first in a series of pivotal primary election nights. Comedy Central indicated that the timing was coincidental, since both shows were scheduled long ago to take a two-week end-of-year hiatus.
Both hosts are Writers Guild of America members. The guild, in a statement, accused Comedy Central of forcing the two hosts back to work and reiterated that the studios should resume negotiations to reach a settlement in the strike.
In a statement, the two hosts said they would prefer to return to work with their writers. “If we cannot, we would like to express our ambivalence, but without our writers we are unable to express something as nuanced as ambivalence,” they stated.
Without writers, “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report,” which are shown weeknights at 11 p.m. and at 11:30 p.m. and serve as important shows for Comedy Central, are likely to lean on unscripted interview segments. Booking guests may not be easy because some entertainers and presidential candidates have refused to cross picket lines.