"Jon Stewart's cookin' now"
The Calgary Sun
June 26, 1999
by Louis B. Hobson


Ex-bakery worker takes on the big time with Big Daddy

HOLLYWOOD -- Growing up in New Jersey, Jon Stewart needed a sense of humour. So did his friends, family and employers. "When I was 14, I started working at a mall in New Jersey. I got fired from six different stores," recalls the comedian, who had a recurring role on HBO's The Larry Sanders Show. He is currently starring as the host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

"My first job fiasco was at the mall's bakery." he says. "It was my responsibility to clean all the machinery. "I lined the dough mixer with soap and then forgot to actually wash it. The bakers came in the next morning, thought the soap was flour and made a batch of bread."

Nothing was as traumatic as when Stewart's own brother had to fire him from his position as stock boy at Woolworths. "There were all these bean bags in the storage room. I was leaping into them and sliding across the room when I barrelled into the aquarium tanks. "I smashed thousands of dollars worth of aquariums. My brother was an assistant manager. He caught me throwing the aquariums away so he had no choice but to fire me."

In the summer comedy Big Daddy, opening tomorrow in Calgary, Stewart plays Adam Sandler's roommate. The two comics have known each other for more than a decade. "We met doing standup. We usually performed at the same clubs," says Stewart. "There was a whole group of us including Chris Rock who'd shoot hoops during the afternoon and then go out for a late dinner after our shows. "I used to try to borrow money from Adam when he was making $15 a night. I had more luck hitting him up then than I do now that he's making $20 million a picture."

Stewart says he and Sandler had difficult apprenticeships as comics. "We were filling the gap left by people like Eddie Murphy, Paul Reiser and Richard Lewis. "They were such legends we really had to work for any laughs we got."

Stewart is only one of Sandler's old buddies who appears in Big Daddy. There's also Rob Schneider, Allen Covert, Josh Mostel and Steve Buscemi." Adam encourages everyone to improvise on the set. "He loves people to bring ideas every day, but it's not anarchy. There's a script that has to be followed. It's just that Adam wants it to be embellished.

"It gets really nuts in Adam's trailer when we're playing poker. Adam is a fun guy, but once he's on set as the star, producer or co-writer of his movies, it's serious business."

Stewart admits it's difficult for a comedian to try to make another writer's material work. "You feel more comfortable with stuff you've written, but you try to be as funny as you can for those cameras and then go home and write your own stuff for another day somewhere down the line."

When The Larry Sander's Show was cancelled, Stewart was eager to work in films. He made Playing by Heart, The Faculty and Big Daddy in quick succession and had a string of auditions for other projects. "I still want a movie career, but I'm going to have to put that on hold until I've finished my stint with Comedy Central. Doing The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is creatively and physically exhausting."


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