"Stewart on Grammys: OK to Be Funny"
E! Online
February 15, 2002
by Joal Ryan


When Ellen DeGeneres hosted the Emmys last November, Taliban jokes made the monologue. When Jon Stewart hosts the Grammys on February 27, Mariah Carey jokes may just do the trick.

The difference? Distance.

"I think [DeGeneres] did an unbelievably terrific job," Stewart told reporters today via a telephone press conference. "But I think that was much more in the wheelhouse of the event [which was twice postponed because of the September 11 terror attacks and their aftermath]...She obviously had to address that more directly."

As for September 11 sentiment at the Grammys? "I think it's going to be not a factor."

Let the Mariah Carey bashing resume...

"She was paid $28 million not to sing, so who knows? I might get paid $28 million not to tell jokes."

Stewart tried out this and other rim-shot material during the interview session to hype the Grammys, slated for Los Angeles' Staples Center. U2 leads this year's field with eight nominations.

Stewart is making his second straight appearance on the CBS telecast. Last year, the Daily Show host was a late replacement for Whoopi Goldberg, who bowed out due to illness. ("They'd gotten down to the S's," Stewart said, explaining how he wound up with the gig.)

This year, he was CBS' first choice. And, accordingly, he's ready to roll.

"I'll be equipped with a megaphone," Stewart said, referring to the challenges of telling jokes in a not-small venue like Staples. "I've decided to shout my entire program."

And what sort of things might he be shouting?

"If Toni Braxton walks out again wearing nothing but a scarf, yes, I will probably have to mention that."

On a more sober (and fully clothed) note, Stewart says jokes about President Bush--generally off-limits since September 11--may again be considered. While the war on terrorism still isn't funny, Bush's controversial "axis of evil" comment is, to Stewart, "fair game." (And don't be surprised if Enron isn't the punchline to at least one gag.)

Balancing acts aside, Stewart is not confusing the Grammy gig with anything resembling heavy lifting.

"Obviously, the pressure on me is minuscule," he said. "If I can score a couple of laughs and direct traffic...I should be okay."


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