Washington, DC. Brooke speaks with humorist
Jon Stewart, author of a new book titled " Naked Pictures of Famous
People." (William Morrow & Co., Inc.)
BROOKE GLADSTONE, HOST: Jon Stewart is a comedian
who's been teetering on the brink of success for about three years
He had a talk-show on MTV. It was briefly syndicated.
David Letterman's Worldwide Pants (ph) signed him to do a show
following Tom Snyder's "Late Late Show" on CBS. That didn't pan
out. Instead, Stewart guest-hosted Snyder's show, amid speculation
that he would eventually take it over. At the same time, he played
a fictional character who was guest- hosting the fictional "Larry
Sanders Show" on HBO, amid speculation that he would eventually
take it over. That didn't pan out either. But, finally, things
are panning out, and Mr. Stewart is in our New York bureau. Hey,
it looks like you have a real job.
JON STEWART, HUMORIST, "NAKED PICTURES OF FAMOUS
That thing with Bennigan's came through?
Oohoo! I'm a night-manager again.
GLADSTONE: Tell me about Comedy Central.
STEWART: The Comedy Central gig is the daily
show, a fine and satirical look at the way the media has turned
the country upside- down. It starts in January. I'll be taking
over for Mr. Kilborne at that point.
GLADSTONE: And at that point Kilborne will be
going over to the "Tom Snyder Show,"...
GLADSTONE: ... where you were for a while heir-apparent.
What happened there?
STEWART: Kilborne will be going to Snyder, Snyder
will be taking over for Rosie, Rosie will be hosting "Hollywood
Squares," and Tom Bergeron (ph)...
... will be -- musical chairs, in many respects.
GLADSTONE: So, why on earth would you want to
be a talk-show host?
STEWART: I really am interested in what Tia
and Tamara Maury (ph) think about, and what goes into the making
of "Sister, Sister."
And I think until I can find that out, I'm just
going to have to interview everyone else, until I can get to that.
GLADSTONE: Which brings us to your new book
of essays, called "Naked Pictures of Famous People: Another Example
of Blatantly False Advertising."
STEWART: Well, that's the most down-loaded phrase,
I think, on the Internet, the most searched-for phrase. So I figure
if you want your porn backdoor action, you're going to also have
to deal with my book.
GLADSTONE: How long did it take you to write
STEWART: Like a day. That much.
Which I mean -- it took me about eight months.
GLADSTONE: Well, there's no naked pictures in
the book, but there are a lot of famous people who are all viciously
STEWART: Hey! All with love...
STEWART: All with respect.
GLADSTONE: You kid. You kid, because...
GLADSTONE: ... you love.
STEWART: I kid because I love.
GLADSTONE: The characters range from Martha
Stewart to Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci to Lenny Bruce (ph),...
GLADSTONE: JFK is shown as a sadistic, inbred
STEWART: But in a positive -- he's funny.
That's -- boy, that's right!
You know, I hadn't strung all the adjectives
together. When you put it that way, I think,...
... oh my God, I'm a bastard!
GLADSTONE: Gerald Ford is portrayed as a kind
of lobotomized Pee Wee Herman.
So the question is -- the question that leaps
to mind is, are you trying to be offensive, or are you...?
STEWART: Oh, God no!
GLADSTONE: Then you're mentally ill.
STEWART: No! No! I'm trying to be funny. Hopefully,
you don't take the book as just a slam on these people. It's really
-- I'm using them as absurd examples of the kinds of situations
I'm talking about. But I'm not really slamming these people in
STEWART: I don't think it's a mean -- I feel
like it's not a mean book. I don't feel like I'm a mean person.
So when -- you know, when...
So John F. Kennedy stands by while...
STEWART: Wait a minute, my cynical friend.
GLADSTONE: John F. Kennedy stands by while his
Choate roommate is literally amputated by his inbred and deformed
STEWART: It's absurd! Who would believe that
there's a bunker underneath Hyannis Port filled with miscreants
and carney-rejects that are genetically related to the Kennedys?
It's a joke!
GLADSTONE: One of my favorite sections is your
comparative chart of orthodox, conservative, and reform Judaism.
STEWART: Yes, that was years of study.
Now, you have under "favorite ballplayer," the
orthodox say, "Hank Greenberg,"...
GLADSTONE: ... the conservatives say, "Sandy
GLADSTONE: ... and for reform it's Ken Griffey,
STEWART: Yes. Yes, it is.
GLADSTONE: And on the matter of homosexuality,...
GLADSTONE: ... the orthodox say it's a sin,...
STEWART: Yes, they do.
GLADSTONE: ... the conservatives say it's a
sin, but oh, what they've done for Broadway theater!
STEWART: Yes, that's true.
GLADSTONE: And the reformed call it "something
that happened at camp."
See, that's funny.
GLADSTONE: The funny thing is that when I saw
you on Larry Sanders,...
GLADSTONE: ... I never would have guessed you
STEWART: You've got to be kidding me.
My God! They had a nostril-cam hooked up on
Never been to Brooklyn, my friend.
GLADSTONE: I live in Brooklyn.
STEWART: Is that true?
STEWART: You live in Brooklyn, and I don't look
GLADSTONE: What about the business that I started
GLADSTONE: Has this been a fun ride for you,
or has it been frustrating, or both?
STEWART: Oh, I think fun. You know, somebody
asked me the other day -- they said, "Do you feel like you've
done anything great?" I said, "No." And then I thought, "No, I
have," and the one thing I did that was great was I moved from
Trenton, New Jersey to New York, to try and become a comedian.
That's the one thing I've done in this business that's great.
Because I gave myself the opportunity to express whatever it was
that I thought I needed to express.
GLADSTONE: And you're from Jersey?
GLADSTONE: From Trenton?
GLADSTONE: Trenton makes, the world takes.
STEWART: Don't start slamming it!
Let me tell you something. You ever drank Champale?
Or seen Trojan rubbers? If you do...
GLADSTONE: I sure -- I sure have seen Trojan
STEWART: Exactly! There you go! Well, there
-- your weekend is sponsored by Trenton.
We used to make steel, but now we just make
I'm just kidding.
GLADSTONE: Actually, the funniest essay in this
book involves a talk-show host, Larry King, up close and personal
with Adolf Hitler.
GLADSTONE: Now, we actually asked Larry King
to read the Larry King part, but for some reason he said no.
STEWART: Yes. He can't read.
No, he's a very nice man. I actually met him,
and he's a -- actually a
pretty interesting and funny guy.
GLADSTONE: We asked Mike O'Meara (ph), who is
the cohost of the syndicated "Don and Mike Show," to play Larry
King, which he's very happy to do. You play Hitler, and here we
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MIKE O'MEARA, PORTRAYING LARRY KING: Good evening, ladies and
gentlemen. Tonight we bring you perhaps the most controversial
show in the history of "Larry King Live."
He began his career as president of the fledgling
National Socialist Party, the Nazi Party, in Germany. After a
failed coup, some prison time, and a best-selling book, he reestablished
himself in the German hierarchy, first as chancellor, and then
as Fuehrer. The next ten years under his watch saw Germany's return
to power, shame at the Munich Olympics, a failed marriage,
and finally, one hell of a world war, complete with what was thought
to be a cowardly demise by his own hand.
Tonight, risen from the proverbial dead, we
welcome Adolf Hitler.
STEWART, PORTRAYING HITLER: First of all, Larry,
I don't know what I was so afraid of. These bagels in the green
room are delicious.
O'MEARA: Heh! Well, Chancellor Hitler, I have
STEWART: Please, call me "Adolf."
O'MEARA: Adolf, yes, well, first of all, I have
to say quite frankly, we were very reluctant to have you on.
STEWART: Well, I can't say I blame you for that.
I mean, you hear the name "Hitler," and it's...
O'MEARA: Well, in the end we decided this show
is about news- makers. That's been my motto through 40 years of
broadcasting, and critics be damned! I'm not about to stop now.
STEWART: I don't know what you're talking about.
O'MEARA: What do you say to all those people
out there, the people who view you as a demon, the perpetrator
of the most vicious and...
STEWART: Guilty as charged.
Larry, look. I was a bad guy. No question!
I hate that Hitler. I mean, the yelling, the
finger-pointing. I don't know. I was a very angry guy.
O'MEARA: And this new Hitler?
STEWART: I get up at seven, have half a melon,
do the jumble in the morning paper, and then let the day take
me where it will.
The other day, I spent seven hours in the park,
watching ants cut off part of a sandwich. Me! The inventor of
Now, when you stop having to control everything,
it's very freeing.
Why did you do it?
STEWART: Oh boy! The $64-thousand question,
I wasn't a happy kid.
I mean, I'm not trying to make excuses, but
you go through high school with one testicle and the nickname
"Shitler," I'm sorry, they can bleep that, right?
O'MEARA: Did you ever see the despicable nature
of your actions? Was there any remorse?
STEWART: Ah, sure, but denial is a powerful
thing. I always thought I could stop, any time I wanted. If I
could just get Czechoslovakia, that'll be the end of it, I'll
be happy then.
And I'd get it and think, "Well, geeze, Poland's
just up the road a piece," and you know the rest. I think admitting
to myself that there was a problem was the toughest part.
O'MEARA: And when was that?
STEWART: I mean, there were moments all along
where I knew something was wrong. I remember one time -- I think
it was in Munich -- we're having a rally, 100,000 people, they're
all chanting my name, the bonfires are going, it's the whole shebang.
It should have been a crowning moment, but I clearly remember
thinking, "What am I doing here? I hate crowds."
O'MEARA: Tell us about those final days, in
the Berlin bunker, where until now we had assumed you had killed
STEWART: Hmmm! Yes, right, well, I finished
that. Everyone thought I went into the bunker to escape.
O'MEARA: Not the case?
STEWART: No. Actually, as the allied forces
are closing in, I was still in denial. I really thought we were
going to rally, you know, make an end-run around Switzerland and
frank 'em. So I'm planning furiously and snapping at people --
you know, as my therapist says, "playing the dictator."
STEWART: So Eva calls me down to the bunker
for some emergency with the generals.
So anyway I go down, and there's Eva, and Himmler,
and two of my other closest friends. And I'll never forget. I
walk in, and say, "Was ist los?"
And Eva takes my face in her hands, looks me
in the eyes, and says, "Adolf, we all love you very much, but
if you don't stop with this conquer-and-purify thing, no one in
this room will ever love you again."
O'MEARA: What happened?
STEWART: I shot them.
I mean, back then we didn't know from interventions.
I just figured they were betraying me.
Anyway, I threw on Eva's clothes and snuck out
into the night. I lived like an animal for weeks, doing what I
had to do to get by.
One day, a group of boys were making fun of the lady with the
moustache, and I got a look at myself in the reflection of a window,
and realized they were talking about me. It was then that I knew
I had to get my life together.
Now, let's go to the phones, OK?
Annie from Grand Rapids, Michigan, what's your
question for Adolf Hitler?
ANNIE: First of all, Larry, I just want to say,
I love your show.
O'MEARA: Thank you.
ANNIE: My husband was recently diagnosed with
shingles, and your show is the
only one that takes away the itching.
O'MEARA: Well, wonderful, Annie! Thank you.
What's your question for Hitler?
ANNIE: Yes. I want to know what Mr. Hitler thinks
O'MEARA: Terrific question!
Was the Third Reich working on cloning?
STEWART: Sure, sure, I -- we gave it a shot.
I mean, we had created some chickens that vaguely resembled each
other, and one of our top guys had cloned a replica of your heroic
dog Lassie, but after some checking, we found out it was just
a reassembled corgie. All involved were put to sleep.
Our guys just were not up to the task.
O'MEARA: After all these years, why resurface
and open yourself up to the incredible tumult that your return
STEWART: Stay off the radar.
No, that's a good question.
See, I had been talking a good game for many
years now, what a changed man I was, how I'd found real peace,
but I was still playing the blame game. My therapist challenged
me to put up or shut up, to prove to myself that I could take
responsibility for my life. So, here I am.
O'MEARA: We've been talking with Adolf Hitler.
The book is...
STEWART: The pot -- is -- is it over already?
O'MEARA: I'm afraid so.
STEWART: That was -- that was fast! I thought
I was the one who had ways of making you talk.
But seriously, I -- the book is called "Mein
Comfortable Shoes." You get it?
O'MEARA: I do!
STEWART: Yes, yes, it's about an angry man who
learns to appreciate the little things in life. It's about acceptance.
O'MEARA: And what's next for Adolf Hitler?
STEWART: Well, I'll he doing "Politically Incorrect"
next Thursday. And there's always -- you can see my old work on
the A&E network. And in two weeks I will be appearing on Court
TV as I stand trial for crimes against humanity.
O'MEARA: What kind of defense will you be offering?
STEWART: Not much. I fully expect that by this
time next year, I'll have been convicted, possibly put to death.
But I'm going to represent myself, though, because from now on,
the blame goes here. The only one to blame for Hitler is Hitler.
And besides, who wants to get involved with
a bunch of phoney- baloney defense lawyers? I mean, talk about
O'MEARA: Well, Adolf, thanks so much for coming
STEWART: Ah, danke schoen.
GLADSTONE: I think that's all we need to say.
The once and future Jon Stewart is the upcoming
host of the "Daley Show" (ph) on the Comedy Central cable channel.
That starts in January, and he's author of "Naked Pictures of
He joined us from the New York bureau. Bye bye.
STEWART: Thank you. Bye bye.
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