"Jon Stewart "
Today Show
October 4, 1999
Hosted by Matt Lauer


Matt Lauer: As host of Comedy Central’s late night program, The Daily Show, sharp-witted comedian Jon Stewart anchors a newscast in which he makes fun of the news and those who cover it.

[Clip from The Daily Show talking about the Miss America pageant]

Lauer: Did I mention this is on cable?

Jon Stewart: [laughing] This is on cable.

Lauer: Now in his first book of essays called Naked Pictures of Famous People, hardly the case by the way, Stewart takes on President John F. Kennedy, Princess Diana, Bill Gates, and Martha Stewart. Jon, welcome back. Good to see you.

Stewart: Nice to see you as well. I feel after clips like that I have to just explain myself.

Lauer: You have to defend yourself?

Stewart: We were really drunk... I don't know what happened...

Lauer: [Laughs] You can have a little bit more of a license to do things like that on cable than on a program like this.

Stewart: A little? [Laughs] Yeah... that's the first time those clips have been seen. That's the beauty of cable. Now we'll finally get letters.

Lauer: Are you having a good time with that show?

Stewart: Aw, man... it's a ball.

Lauer: It's a pretty good fit...

Stewart: It's tremendous. The exciting thing for us is we're putting in giant windows in our studio, because we realize now that's the only way to get the people. Were they there, and then you put the window in?

Lauer: We figured since they were there we might as well put a window in.

Stewart: The new trend... here's what I think is going to happen, because pretty soon they'll all have windows, because you see everybody's copying...

Lauer: Right.

Stewart: [Quietly] Which by the way, I don't agree with. I think you guys really invented this whole window thing...

Lauer: Please don't flatter us...

Stewart: I think the next trend will be that you have to do it in front of their window.

Lauer: You go to their home, so it's a tour of America.

Stewart: Exactly. In front of their bay window. Just right outside. Al [Roker, Today's weatherman] will do it!

Lauer: Did I mention you're on cable, and not on network television?

Stewart: [Laughs] Yes... I'm on cable!

Lauer: Let's talk about this book. I get it in my research last night, Naked Pictures of Famous People, and I'm fanning through this thing. There isn't one naked picture of a famous person in this book.

Stewart: It's meant to be fanned through, but there is no nudity.

Lauer: So are there no truth in advertising laws when it come to books?

Stewart: [Pauses] My basic premise here was to get people such as yourself, the male audience, the let's say oversexed audience. You pick it up, you look for the naked pictures, and then maybe a little bit of the text catches your eye.

Lauer: You actually can read something, like Playboy

Stewart: Thank you. There's stereo advice in the book, all kinds of things in there.

Lauer: Talk about some of the people you write about. You take on President Kennedy, you take on Gerald Ford, you take on Martha Stewart.

Stewart: I never consider it taking on because I don't consider it to be those actual people. I'm sort of writing about their iconic basis more than I am writing about them themselves. For instance, I don't know Gerald Ford; I'm sure he's a lovely man.

Lauer: You make him out to be a bit dimwitted in the book, to say it mildly I think.

Stewart: Right. I really jumped on the vanguard of comedy by making Gerald Ford seem a bit dimwitted.

Lauer: [Laughs] There's a chapter in the book about Martha Stewart, there's one on Larry King interviewing Adof Hitler on his show...

Stewart: Yes.

Lauer: Again, coming from cable where you can get away with some things we can't get away with, where in your mind do you draw the line between saying this could be potentially very funny but it may offend a whole lot of people?

Stewart: Four in the morning. That's where you draw the line. You say, "If I don't finish this by four in the morning, honestly, I think my girlfriend is going to kill me."

Lauer: [Laughs]

Stewart: So then you just do this and type it in there, and then you hit save...

Lauer: Yeah, on the computer.

Stewart: ...which you couldn't do before. And then whatever happens, happens. You hit save and then somehow it gets e-mailed to your editor.

Lauer: These little takes are a longer version of what you do on The Daily Show

Stewart: Yes, well the essays are almost just premises. The idea behind the Larry King interviewing Hitler was more that we are basically an apologist society. That people continually screw up and they are disgraced, and then about six to eight months later they come and they do the circuit again and they say, "You know, I don't know what I was thinking! I must have been out of my mind there when I did all of those terrible things."

Lauer: I'm not that bad of a guy.

Stewart: Exactly. So what I did was I took the most extreme examples of what those are. And they're so not meant to offend, they're literally just meant to be funny.

Lauer: Speaking of not meant to offend... you're going to cover politics on The Daily Show, the 2000 election... what do you think of what Jessie Ventura said last week? [referring to his comments in Playboy]

Stewart: You know, I think people take way to seriously what ex-wrestlers say.

Lauer: But what about the governor of Minnesota?

Stewart: It's amazing to me, that the actual events, and this goes along with the way people talk about the offensiveness of comedy. And they forget that comedy is just mearly a comment on an event. We did a bit about... I can't remember what it was, but it was something where someone got very upset about it, but it was right after the embassy bombing during the war in Kosovo, but they were angry with us because we had offended them somehow.

Lauer: Comedy is sometimes an easy target.

Stewart: It's an extremely easy target, but it sort of begs the issue, the real issue which is reality can be offensive, jokes typically cannot. The worst thing you can say about a joke is that they're just not funny.

Lauer: So if you turn to this book to just be enlightened and get a giggle out of it, there's some very funny stuff.

Stewart: A giggle. Enlightenment will never come from this book. You will get a giggle, and it fits so easily into your bathroom you have no idea.

Lauer: [Laughs] 18 chapters, 18 trips to the bathroom.

Stewart: Thank you very much.

Lauer: Naked Pictures of Famous People. Jon Stewart, always good to have you.

Stewart: Nice to have you.... uh...

Lauer: Nice to have us here.

Stewart: Fine. Next time I will drink coffee.


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Copyright © 1999 NBC. All rights reserved.
Transcribed by Manda.

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