KATIE COURIC, co-host: 2001 was a a year in
which the tears often drowned out the laughter. One person who's
looking for comedy to retake the lead in the new year is the host
of "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central, Jon Stewart.
Hi, Jon. Good to see you. Mr. JON STEWART ("The
Daily Show"): Man, Katie, good to see you. What a night last night.
Who thought it would be so rainy, or snowy, or cold?
COURIC: A little hung over there?
Mr. STEWART: Yes. You know what, you can always
tell. I thought Russert had a really--must have had a really rough
New Year's Eve. You tell when he's tired, dark circles underneath
COURIC: Oh, in fact, you drew a picture of them.
Mr. STEWART: I drew it--I drew it on his board,
just to show you. I don't know if you can see that. That's Russert,
there's the hard night right there.
COURIC: He's going to appreciate you made his
face so thin, Jon.
Mr. STEWART: Yeah. You know what's interesting?
Sometimes I do body shots out of his chin.
COURIC: Do you?
Mr. STEWART: Yeah, Russert's chin, just a little
champagne within, and boom.
COURIC: You need to get a hobby.
Mr. STEWART: I do.
COURIC: Anyway, it's nice to see you.
Mr. STEWART: Nice to see you.
COURIC: Let's talk--I want to talk seriously
with you, Jon, for 30 seconds.
Mr. STEWART: Oh, boy, all right.
COURIC: I promise that will be the limit but...
Mr. STEWART: All right.
COURIC: ...this was a very, very difficult year.
Mr. STEWART: Brutal.
COURIC: Obviously, brutal is right. Just an
extraordinarily painful fall. Was it hard for you to calibrate
how funny you could be or how funny you couldn't be?
Mr. STEWART: The calibration of how funny you
could be or not to be wasn't something that we did. It was--it
wasn't for the show, it was personally having experienced this,
you know, as the whole country did, but also in very close proximity
to the World Trade Center, which is where I live.
COURIC: That's right, and--and I should mention
that during many of your shows in those initial days it was very
serious and you were very emotional about it, too.
Mr. STEWART: I think I--I, like so many other
people, was in shock and in--in mourning, and it--it wasn't so
much about calibrating how funny can I be, it was more calibrating--not
calibrating at all, trying to return to normalcy, just trying
to feel human again...
Mr. STEWART: ...not feel so in shock, trying
to clear the fog.
COURIC: And it took a few weeks really to--to
kind of settle back in or...
Mr. STEWART: It took a few weeks...
COURIC: ...has it changed still? I mean, is
it still kind of a different show than you might have done pre-September
Mr. STEWART: I think the show is different,
but purely because I'm different, and you're different, and everyone's
different. I don't think it's been a--a--the idea was that the
show will change to reflect our times now.
Mr. STEWART: It's more that the show has always
been a reflection of--of us, not the other way around. So I think
that as our resolve returned, and as our sense of tenacity and
joy returned, that flavor returned to the show a bit. And the--the
first few shows that were, I'm sure, look in context now very
Mr. STEWART: ...because we were feeling so hurt.
COURIC: You know, in fact, but it didn't take
you too long to kind of do your--your quirky, funny...
Mr. STEWART: We tried.
COURIC: ...look at some of the more serious
things that--that we had to deal with. For a while your show's
tagline was "America Freaks Out."
Mr. STEWART: Indeed. Which is--which is the
case. You know, my wife said something interesting to me, which
was, 'These are such horrible things, I wish they would sometimes
happen not within 10 blocks of us.'
Mr. STEWART: Because it was--for a while there
it felt like we were surrounded, and the anthrax situation.
COURIC: In fact, we have a...
Mr. STEWART: Yeah.
COURIC: ...clip of you and your take on the
effects of the anthrax scare in Washington.
Mr. STEWART: Oh, I'm excited about that.
COURIC: We're very prepared. Let's take a look.
(Clip from "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,"
Mr. STEWART: I think it's apropos.
COURIC: What are you looking forward to covering
in--in the new year, in this new year, Jon?
Mr. STEWART: More--more anthrax.
COURIC: No, come on.
Mr. STEWART: More anthrax-related humor. What
I'm looking forward to covering in this new year is--is trivial,
unbelievably light-hearted, goofy stories where no one passes
away. That would be--I think that's everybody's wish, and, well,
like everybody else in the country, we--we take what we're given
COURIC: Try to make the most of it, of a very
Mr. STEWART: As--as much as we're a--a bratty
little show that--that sits in the back of the room and casts
dispersions at everything we see, everyone on the show feels it's
a great privilege to do what we do and understand why we're able
to do what we do. And I think that's...
COURIC: And we...
Mr. STEWART: Yeah.
COURIC: ...well, that's a good point, and we--we
Mr. STEWART: Ah!
COURIC: ...what you do, and it's nice to have
a laugh every once in a while.
Mr. STEWART: And let me tell you this. Insana,
if he's wrong, I say we kick him to the curb.
Mr. STEWART: About all that economic stuff.
COURIC: All right, good. I agree. I'm kidding.
I love Ron Insana. Don't say that.
Mr. STEWART: What?
COURIC: Not that way.
Mr. STEWART: If we--if we were that bad at our
jobs, those financial analyst guys...
Mr. STEWART: ...not him, but what's the Dow
going to be? Fifteen thousand, or 1,000? We don't really know.
COURIC: Give or take.
Mr. STEWART: You go to the doctor, 'I think
it's your liver or your brain.' We don't have any idea.
COURIC: All right. Jon, thank you.
Mr. STEWART: Ah!
COURIC: Happy New Year.
Mr. STEWART: Happy New Year.
COURIC: Thank you.
Mr. STEWART: And, boy, what a night last night.
COURIC: And it was crazy.
And we'll be back with a special New Year's
edition of TODAY. But first, this is TODAY on NBC.