"Stranded on a Desert Island: Jon Stewart"
June 1999
by Anthony Duignan-Cabrera


Since taking the reins of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show from Craig Kilborn in January, 36-year-old Jon Stewart has seen his profile rise right along with his program’s ratings.  He’s phased out his predecessor’s trademark segments (“Five Questions”), offering up his rambling but hilarious “Hastily Thrown Together Editorials” and “A Quick Word of Advice.”

After graduating in 1984 with a degree in philosophy from the College of William and Mary, the New Jersey-bred Stewart could have used a few words of advice himself.  Lacking any real plans for his future, he took a job as a barkeep, then as a number cruncher for the New Jersey Department of Health.  (“If the bomb hit, I knew where we were going to get the beds,” recalls Stewart.)  In 1987, though, he moved to New York and began performing stand-up comedy alongside Ray Romano and Chris Rock at Greenwich Village’s The Bitter End.  He started writing for cable, which led to hosting shows on MTV and Comedy Central.  Eventually, he landed a recurring role on The Larry Sanders Show with Garry Shandling.

A lifelong fan of comedian-writers Steve Martin and Woody Allen, Stewart has also published his own collection of comic essays, Naked Pictures of Famous People.  On the big screen, you’ve seen him most recently in The Faculty and Playing by Heart, and this month he teams up with Adam Sandler in Big Daddy.

The comedian tells Biography Magazine what he couldn’t live without—and what he could. 

If you were stranded on a desert island, what one bood would you want with you?

A book on boat-making, I would think.  Actually, a book on boat-making without tools.  That would be handy.  With a couple of coconut recipes thrown in.

What companion?

Whoever the world-championship distance swimmer is, girl or guy.

What television show?

Television show?  Is this desert island I landed on in Australia?  The Simpsons.

Which take-out menu would you have?

John’s Pizza from Bleecker Street in Manhattan.

What movie?

I’d want something light-hearted.  Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day, to remind me of my situation.

What album?

Anthology of Tom Waits.

What would you miss most about civilization?

Krispy Kremes.  But there might be one there; it seems like a pretty good island.

What would you miss the least?

Large groups of people with a singular purpose.  That purpose can be anything from protesting to looking at girls. Most large groups excuse themselves from the rules of social behavior.  I wouldn’t miss that.

What article of clothing or outfit would you wear if you had only one?

I’d probably want one of those Dan Rather safari outfits in case I’d want to go into the brush. But you can take most of it off and just wear the vest.  Something useful like that.Whenever Dan wears one I always think s—t’s about to hit the fan somewhere.  Anytime you see Dan Rather in khakis, that spells trouble. 

If you had to have one stand-up comedian perform for you every night for the rest of your life, who would it be?

(Laughs) Just one?! Colin Quinn. Norm McDonald, Chris Rock. I’d rotate them in, but somehow I don’t think they’d take the gig.

Do you have a quick word of advice for our readers?

I’ve always assumed your readership is made up of very smart people.  I imagine they watch Biography for a little entertainment then go out and cure polio.  People who like to play Clue.  I know:  Keep up that whole reading thing.  It’s working.


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Copyright © 1999 Biography. All rights reserved.
Thanks to Dani for the article.

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