Consider the comic possibilities at the millennium
with one of America's hottest cutting-edge comedians.
Looking for a way to survive in the millennium?
"Get a sense of humor," says Jon Stewart. "If
you don't, it'll be incredibly frustrating."
The 35-year-old comedian will begin 1999 as
the new host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, a smirking
social review that has become the place for cutting-edge, often
His idea of funny? "Taking things in
our culture to the absolute extreme." Stewart amuses himself
by picturing Bill Gates meeting the devil, or vicious Christmas
cards sent by those perky singing Hanson brothers.
That sort of absurdist riff defines Stewart's
work. In the past year, while making HBO's Larry Sanders
Show and two movies, The Faculty and Dancing About
Architecture, he honed his topical irreverence by writing
a book of comic essays, Naked Pictures of Famous People.
Stewart, the son of a physicist dad and special
ed teacher mom, grew up Jon Stuart Liebowitz in New Jersey -
that's "outside the Beltway" to the Washington politicos
he now targets with his humor. He mocks politicians' "condescension
toward the rest of us. Washington is considered 'inside the
Beltway.' You know what the place outside the Beltway is called?
The United States!"
For comic fuel, the one-time bartender and
research lab assistant often turns to the media, especially
the Internet. He's aghast at chat rooms. "Imagine the loneliest
singles bar in the world, a singles bar for 15- to 18-year-olds
with the occasional 44-year-old accountant from Des Moines.
Chatting online reduces communication to grunts and giggles.
They say chat rooms are bringing back literacy because people
communicate with the written word. It's bull."
Stewart recently entered a chat room and pretended
to be an eloquent Vincent Van Gogh, befuddling fellow cyber-chatters.
As we turn the century, he says, the best comic possibilities
often will be found by way of just such "exercises in 'what
- - -
LIST OF STEWART'S MOST IRREVERENT QUOTES
On the media's obsession with lists:
"You read Hollywood's 30 most powerful
people under age 30, or People's 50 Most Beautiful People. What
drivel! The extreme would be: 'Five People to Watch Under 5.'
On hypocrisy in Washington:
"How can Washington criticize Hollywood
when they use Hollywood principles to design campaigns? There
are no leaders anymore, only studio executives. Our country's
chief executive runs focus groups every four years and tries
to make sure his movie opens bigger than the other guy's."
On society's fascination with tall supermodels:
"I think of them as something of a genetic
anomaly. Who knows? Next year the trend might be models with
gigantic chins. They don't really have an impact on people's