Stewart can't stay in one place too long
-- Years before he became a big fish, Jon Stewart worked in
a really small pond. "I was the fish guy in the stockroom
of Woolworth's," says Stewart, who spent his summers toiling
in a stuffy backroom in Lawrence Township, N.J.
Stewart didn't kill with his jokes. He killed with his clumsiness.
"They had these big beanbag chairs in the stock room and
I dove into one and slipped," he says of the day he crash-landed
into an aquarium and wiped out $10,000 worth of tropical fish.
was in the process of throwing the dead fish into the incinerator
when the manager caught me and fired me. Then I had to go eat
dinner with him because he was also my brother," the comedian
gripes. "This was just the beginning. I get fired from
as a movie star? "I'll probably be fired from this gig,
too. There seems to be a four-month limit of people's tolerance
for me," says Stewart, who fires himself as a father and
gives his kid to Adam Sandler in "Big Daddy," opening
at the Four Seasons Hotel, Stewart mulled his sketchy employment
Q. As a warning to teenagers toiling in lackluster summer
jobs, how did you manage to get canned from a bakery?
Look, Chicago person, it wasn't my fault, as much of my early
childhood wasn't my fault either. You see, my job was to wash
these huge silver barrels that they made the bread in. So I
would line the barrels with soap and then fill them with water.
One day I forgot about the soap and went to scrub tables. Well,
the bakery people thought I lined the barrels with flour. Apparently
a lot of people found themselves in the mall bathroom that day.
other jobs were you fired from?
I was fired from almost every business establishment in the
Quaker Bridge Mall in New Jersey. I was fired from every wing
of the mall.
Q. So is it just a matter of time before you're axed
from your job as the host of The Daily Show on Comedy
I think I might actually get to stay longer than the four- month
limit because the people in charge know me. I'm their buddy.
My employment on the show reminds me of that movie Hope Floats.
I went away from these people for years and now they still want
me back. I'm the Sandra Bullock for them.
Adam Sandler, who cast you in Big Daddy, didn't fire
you. How did you meet Adam?
it was a blind date.
it didn't work out, so you remained friends?
Look, I'll do the jokes. If you want to know, Adam, Chris Rock
and I actually started on the stand-up circuit at the same time,
but I was older than them. I remember thinking at the time -
and these were my exact thoughts - "These two little young
punks are going to have no trouble at all making it big, and
that's really annoying." You could just see success on
Adam. Even back then.
So what happens now when your buddy is suddenly making $20 million
Well, you know I used to try to borrow money from Adam when
he was making $15 a night. The money thing was no big deal to
him even back then. He was always a soft touch, the kind of
guy who would give you 10 bucks and keep five for himself. Now
the money is just in much bigger volume.
switch gears. How do you think The Daily Show is going?
actually like to see it going further down the dial. I want
it to be past Spanish television. If we can go past Univision
on the channel list, we're really going to make something out
of this show. You know C-SPAN? It's very popular. I want to
be on the next channel after C-SPAN, in case people overshoot
and miss. Then they'll see me.
you get this dream slot, does this mean the show will be more
serious, but as a tribute to the Spanish station you'll also
do musical numbers?
If I get my dream slot, I'll do the show in a flamenco costume
and sing about living that vida loca.
you really get cut from The First Wives Club?
it's sad. In The First Wives Club, I was supposed to
be one of Goldie Hawn's boyfriends. It was the first time that
people in a focus group actually got together and said, "Edit
this guy out." I have never seen anything so rabid. These
people literally walked from a screening room into the editing
room and did the splicing themselves.
Will you do more movies?
I'm doing the show now and I'm really locked in for the next
year or so. The show has a brutal pace. It actually runs like
a news show more than anything else, so I'm literally on deadline
every single day looking for news items.
Timing wise, my favorite news story was when Fabio got hit in
the head by the bird. Fabio did me a huge favor by getting his
face bloodied, because on the same day we had just attacked
Kosovo. Bombs are dropping. Refugees are pouring out and those
images were horrific. There was nothing we could use. Suddenly
someone on staff comes running into our meeting and screams,
"Great news. Fabio just got hit on the nose! He's bleeding!"
I ran into the other room and saw the blood in his hair. It
was just so perfect. Thank goodness it happened.
TV show has made you a sex symbol. So women want to know if
you're available. This is a public service sort of question,
Are you joking? A sex symbol. Please! Um, OK, here it is. I
do have a girlfriend and I'm thinking about marriage and kids.
Which is surprising. A few years ago I wanted to do that Anthony