The Daily Show will remain The Daily
Show, with its satirical mix of news, trends, and pop culture
observations, even as Jon Stewart takes over as host Monday night.
Inevitably, Stewart will put his own stamp on the show, he just
doesn't know how or when. "At first, we'll just try to get
good at what they do. Hopefully, if that's accomplished, we can
think about stretching it. They do a pretty tight show right now,"
he said in a recent telephone interview.
Stewart takes over the Comedy Channel show from
Craig Kilborn, who has been host since the show began in July
1996. Kilborn has left to replace Tom Snyder as host of CBS's
Late Late Show, beginning March 30. Kilborn is the smart aleck
who always has a smirk on his face. You get the sense he looks
down on all the little people. Stewart's appeal is less condescending.
He's quick-witted and sharp, but you sense with him that he wants
to let you in on the joke.
He had his own talk show on MTV, and then for
one season in syndication in the mid-1990s, and has been up for
any number of jobs: as a replacement for David Letterman on Late
Night, as host of a show to follow Snyder's, and even as Snyder's
replacement. He also had a recurring role in The Larry Sanders
Show as a possible replacement for the ever-neurotic Sanders.
That one, at least, never was a serious offer.
"Not really. There was a lot of 2-in-the-morning giggling,
but nothing really serious. Nobody wanted to get caught in an
After MASH situation," he said. "I'm sure at
the time they thought, `But won't people still be interested in
Radar and Klinger?' "
Stewart is a standup comedian and author of
Naked Pictures of Famous People, an absurdist collection that
includes such scenarios as Hitler on Larry King Live and a Lenny
Bruce sitcom. Clearly, the man has an imagination. But he says
it won't be too difficult to stick with what's in the news when
looking for humor. "A lot of what I do normally is create
things and fabricate things, but I'm always far more amazed at
reality. Unfortunately now, reality has gotten to the point where
it is almost so unbelievable that it appears as though you are
making it up," he said.
The Daily Show has a definite edge that
can appear cruel at times. Stewart says edginess is a tricky thing.
"I don't think edge has as much to do with attitude as it
does targets. Edge is not necessarily about irony or being above
it all," he said. "It's finding the real joke in everything.
The real joke is [Rep.] Mary Bono saying to Abbe Lowell [during
the impeachment hearings], `What do I tell my children?' when
the woman is only in Congress because Sonny skied into a tree
and he was hooked on pain killers."
There's plenty of fodder out there. The Daily
Show airs at 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, and Stewart has this
piece of advice for people who might feel the need to watch local
news instead. "Don't worry about local news. If it's really
bad, you'll hear the sirens. There will be time to get to the