may be a new face on The Daily Show, but he's no stranger
to the talk-show wars.
A few years
ago he hosted The Jon Stewart Show, an MTV program that
Paramount grabbed for national syndication. The show lasted
only 10 months after it began in September 1994, but it put
Stewart on the pop-culture radar.
with talk shows continued through the HBO comedy series The
Larry Sanders Show, in which he played himself. During the
final season, the story line had Stewart being groomed to take
over the fictitious late-night show. The plot was so intriguing
that, eventually, rumors had Stewart actually replacing Garry
Shandling as the star. That switch was never in the cards, Stewart
had talked about sitcoms, but I was of the mind that, unless
it was a great idea, I didn't want to do it," he said.
"Just to do it for the sake of doing it wasn't a good idea.
No one needs another halfhearted attempt.
we started discussing maybe a 1:30 show to follow Tom Snyder.
At the time I thought: `You know what? I really want to write
the book; I really want to do some movie things.' It didn't
seem like the right time to get back into the fray."
So he wrote
Naked Pictures of Famous People, worked on two films
and agreed to take over as host of the nightly Comedy Central
parody, The Daily Show, after original host Craig Kilborn
signed a deal with another network.
is deep in preparation for his Monday debut. "I've been
to talk-show camp this summer," he said. "It's a place
in upstate New York run by Dick Cavett."
"This show is different from even other talk shows. I don't
think it's relatable to the other show I did at all. The nature
of the show is so topical it's almost fruitless to bang out
jokes right now.
makes it scarier knowing the parameters of the gig. What I liked
is that the fuel of the show is not pure celebrities; the fuel
is really the daily fodder of the news. The world will provide
a great deal of chaos."
the news angle, Stewart knows that the series has its show-biz
lures. "I understand, if you give them 20 minutes of news
satire, you have to give them a few minutes of Tiffani-Amber
Thiessen. I'd love to, at some point, bring on a newsmaker or
a pundit, anyone relevant even in a skewed manner, as opposed
to always a celebrity."
of the late-night chat shows, Stewart sees the pace "the
speed in which entertainment has to occur" as the biggest
difference between now and the days when Johnny Carson ruled
there's an entertainment gap, you have to fill it with something
either a shiny light or someone from Baywatch. When you
look at the amount of entertainment packed into those shows,
a real casual comfort to the old Carsons that doesn't exist
anymore and maybe couldn't."
The Daily Show change? Will it have a new signature bit,
such as the "Five Questions" that Kilborn posed to
don't know," Stewart said. "I think that's a bunker
conversation they're having in the war room at Comedy Central