"Stewart finds his niche laughing through news "
Atlanta Constitution
May 6, 1999
by Drew Jubera


Likeable Daily Show host hits Punchline

Jon Stewart performs at 8:30 tonight, Friday (8 and 10:30 p.m.) and Saturday (8 and 10:30 p.m.) at the Punchline, 280 Hilderbrand Drive, Sandy Springs. Tickets: $22.50. Call 404-252-5233 for reservations.

The Daily Show torch has more than passed to Jon Stewart. While Craig Kilborn, the show's original host, has taken his smarmy act to near invisibility at CBS' Late, Late Show, Stewart has become a more likable, even funnier presence since taking over as host in January. Comedy Central's nightly (11 p.m.) sendup of the day's news recently earned its highest ratings ever.

Stewart, 36, is on a roll. Previously the host of an MTV talk show that had a short life in syndication, he broke out with a recurring role as himself on HBO's The Larry Sanders Show.

He since has starred in the feature films Playing by Heart and The Faculty and is in the Adam Sandler movie Big Daddy, due out in June. Stewart also has written a critically acclaimed collection of comic essays, Naked Pictures of Famous People.

We caught up with Stewart in New York before his trip to Atlanta, where he performs Thursday through Saturday nights at the Punchline

Q: Was it weird coming into a show replacing somebody?
A: I had the feeling when I got here like I was the extremely heavy guy in the gym. Everybody else was doing Tae Bo, and I was the guy smoking by the Stairmaster.

Q: Any surprises doing the show?
A: What was surprising to me was how much I missed doing it. The feeling of accomplishment. It felt pretty nice when the book came out, but even doing that, I'd be up till four in the morning in a room by myself. Then you hand over the manuscript to an editor and he says, "OK, thanks." With this, I get something every night.

Q: You learn anything from doing your other talk shows?
A: Hopefully I have some learning curve. You don't want people to have to say, "Jon, the red light -- that means look at the camera!" I feel more at ease with the process than I did then. A stricter format helps. There were days with the other show we'd be there until midnight trying to draw things up for the next day.

Q: This show is very formatted. You like that?
A: I'm crazy about routine. I'm like an 80-year-old man. I love the idea that I get up at a certain time and go to work. And this is the kind of routine I love: Pore over the papers and sit in a room with a bunch of funny, smart people and bang out jokes.

Q: You watch Craig on his new show?
A: I'm rarely up that late. Truthfully. I have an 80-year-old's mentality. After the show, I'll have dinner, do the crossword with the lady, walk the dog and go to bed.

Q: With the lady or the dog?
A: Both.

Q: Still do much stand-up?
A: Over the last year, before I took on the show, I was on Larry Sanders and writing the book, so I didn't get to do it at all. Every waking moment was taken up with either Sanders or the book. Or my muffin shop. Once the book was done and I got back to my normal routine, I had to figure out a way to fill any of my leisure moments with work.

Q: Do you have new material?
A: I just took all my Saddam Hussein jokes and replaced them with Slobodan Milosovic.


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