"Comedy Central's Jon Stewart talks about humor"
Today Show (NBC)
January 1, 2002
Hosts Katie Couric, Matt Lauer


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 the dimple.

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...

COURIC: Right.

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 11th?

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.

COURIC: Right.

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 strange...


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," Comedy Central)

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 and, and...

COURIC: Try to make the most of it, of a very bad situation.

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 sure appreciate...


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.


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.


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Thanks to Kelly for the article.

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