With two movies, The Daily
Show and a new book, comic Jon Stewart is a bridesmaid no
Poor Jon Stewart: the almost host. He loses
the NBC Late Night bake-off to Conan O'Brien. His own syndicated
talk show gets canceled before they finish painting the green
room. Then, just when it looked like he might take over the Tom
Snyder slot, CBS hires Comedy Central's Craig Kilborn. Ever the
bridesmaid, Stewart, 35, even played Garry Shandling's rumored
replacement on The Larry Sanders Show.
But this wry, self-deprecating comic's days
in the wings are numbered. In January, he'll take over Kilborn's
satirical nightly Newscast, The Daily Show, for a cool
$1.5 million a year. He landed decent-size parts in two hip movies
coming out at Christmas, The Faculty and Dancing About
Architecture. And this week, his first book comes out: Naked
Pictures of Famous People (163 pages. Rob Weisbach Books.
$24), an absurdist borscht whose ingredients include Hitler on
Larry King and a Lenny Bruce sitcom. Newsweek's Rick Marin
asked if Stewart's finally gotten the last laugh. Not if he can
Nah. The spot following Letterman on
NBC -- I was bummed about that. There were eight of us at a club
and we all went up and did 10 minutes in front of Lorne Michaels.
Paul Provenza, Drew Carey, Conan ... About two minutes in, I knew
I wasn't going to get it.
Were you bummed when CBS gave Kllborn the Snyder slot?
I remember Lorne standing up and going, "Thank
So you handle rejection well.
The disasters build a sort of odd Diacid feeling.
When my syndicated show got canceled, the next day I still knew
how to write jokes. That was a huge revelation. Because at first
you think, "I won't have any shelter! What am I gonna do?
The sun is hot. Very thirsty."
You called your book a lousy Without Feathers, referring to Woody
Allen's humor classic.
From his movies to his books to his personal
life, Woody has been my idol.
How will your style change The Daily Show?
Hopefully it won't be defined by my neuroses
but the targets we go after and the attitude.
But I have a lot of hostility.
The news media. I have more trouble with the
commentary on Clinton's affair than Clinton's affair. The self-righteousness
is embarrassing. Maybe it reflects poorly on my upbringing, but
we had interns running around my house since I was a kid. [He
vents conventional frustration with party politics.] Here's the
other thing: everything I'm saying is completely trite. If I were
doing the show today, I'd have porn stars come on and read the
Take it out of the celebrity realm. Bring on
a White House intern, a dry cleaner. The currency of talk shows
is celebs, but there are so many they've been devalued, much like
What are you doing between now and when the
Prayer. I have breakfast every morning
with my ministers. They try and keep me from temptation. Jesse
Jackson comes over and says, "Don't have the ham."