Stewart takes on Comedy Central's signature program.
laughed with a tone more sorrowful than mirthful the other day,
when he was asked if he is rooting for a full-scale Senate trial
of President Clinton. "Like, `Are you hoping for the dissolution
of our government?' he answered. "To be honest, yes - and
I hope O.J. [Simpson] presides over it. I'm in the uncomfortable
position of cheering for chaos now, because that's where I can
make the most muck. And Y2K is right around the corner."
an impeachment trial couldn't come at a better time. At 11 tonight,
he takes over as host of The Daily Show, the wry and irreverent
take on events of the day that has become a signature program
of cable's Comedy Central. It could be a tailor-made job for the
stand-up comic, actor and best-selling humor essayist (Naked
Pictures of Famous People), who joked he likes "to not
be good at anything, so I keep hopping around" because "I
don't have what most people would call hobbies or interests."
It might help
that he had the experience of his own late-night talk show, on
MTV and in syndication, five years ago - even though the glut
of competition left him among the casualties. "Once you've
seen your picture on a dartbord with Rick Dees and Pat Sajak,
it's all uphill," he said. "But I worked 14 hours a
day on the old show. The Daily Show is easier in the sense
of knowing the parameters of the gig. The fuel is not pure celebrities
and whether they come on with a great story -- the fuel is the
the ratings five years ago did little harm to Stewart's career.
Switching his focus to acting, he appeared on HBO's Larry Sanders
Show as Garry Shandling's suspicious understudy. He also co-stars
in the current big-screen feature The Faculty and joins
Sean Connery and Gillian Anderson in the coming film, Playing
For a time,
Stewart said, there was a "very serious" possibility
of continuing The Larry Sanders Show, with him replacing
Shandling as the star. "Luckily," he said, "everyone
had the foresight not to put themselves in an After MASH
kind of situation, following Klinger and Radar to Toledo."
He also was
under consideration to host a Late, Late, Late Show on CBS after
Tom Snyder - until Snyder announced that he would retire in March.
Snyder's replacement, starting March 30, will be former Daily
Show host Craig Kilborn - whose departure opened the job for
Stewart. "I'm probably more neurotic than Craig," he
said. "On paper, it's going to be pretty much the exact same
show. But it's the natural evolution of a show that, with a different
person on, it's going to be different."
trademark bit was "Five Questions" -- the series of
offbeat, impertinent or whimsical questions he posed to celebrity
guests. Uncertain if he will continue it, Stewart is not worried
about finding his own signature because, "Nobody knows what
it is until it happens."
other contributors will remain, as will its filmed features and
name guests. Impeachment or not, Stewart said, "If you're
going to give people 20 minutes of news satire, you've also got
to give them Tiffany-Amber Thiessen or you're going to have rioting
in the streets."