This year's GRAMMY host on, among other
things, meeting Destiny's Child in the bathroom
For the second consecutive year, Jon Stewart
takes the reins of the GRAMMY stage to host the biggest music
show on earth, bringing with him a sardonic wit, a cadre of
avid fans, and a year's experience helming the GRAMMYs.
So what does it feel like to host the mother
of all music shows? "I was locked in a room with no windows,
and we were just writing a monologue," recalls Stewart. "So
it didn't feel much different, quite honestly, than my regular
job. Other than the fact that every now and again, I open the
door to go to the bathroom and Destiny's Child would walk by."
As host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show
With Jon Stewart," Stewart brings his quirky vision of the world
to appreciative audiences every night. "The Daily Show" has
been winning praise and awards since Stewart took over the host's
chair in 1999. In 2001, the show received the Peabody Award
for excellence. The award recognizes distinguished achievements
in the radio and TV fields. The show also received an Emmy for
Outstanding Writing In Variety, Music Or Comedy Program.
Other than last year's GRAMMYs, Stewart's
most musical activities besides opening for Sheena Easton
in Las Vegas included two shows for MTV, including the
network's first talk show. "It was magic," says Stewart of his
time at the formerly all-music video channel. "It was very similar
to working at a party at your friend's house when his parents
weren't home. A lot of beer caps in the potted plants."
In addition to the GRAMMYs, Stewart has enjoyed
other successful side projects. On the acting front, Stewart
just wrapped filming on the Danny DeVito-directed comedy, Death
To Smoochy. The movie follows a turn in the huge Adam Sandler
hit Big Daddy. Additionally, Stewart's book, Naked
Pictures Of Famous People, made the New York Times
bestseller list. As Entertainment Weekly noted of Stewart
and the book, "You've got to be smart to be a smart-ass."
Now Jon Stewart brings his acerbic tongue,
nimble wit and awe of the contemporary music scene back again,
this time for the 44th Annual GRAMMY Awards. This could be the
start of something big.
This will be your second GRAMMYs. Just
couldn't stay away?
You know, most of the time you do something, it's like a first
date. "Heck, well, they'll never call me again." So to be asked
back, that's [like] I got to second base with the GRAMMYs.
Having hosted one GRAMMY show, what's the
secret to success?
I'll tell you, it's the intimacy of the venue. It's being up
close and personal with these 15,000 or so attendees. That's
what I really love. It's like "Unplugged" in many respects.
I think for last year you should have won
an Emmy for Best Host Signed On Five Days Before The Show.
Yes, I was kind of hoping that I'd have an excuse this year
as well. I don't know if I will.
It's a little late for Sept. 11 at this
Yes, exactly. But, I think in some respects it was almost more
enjoyable to do it that way, 'cause it really was just a whirlwind.
I mean, the truth is, I'm probably only gonna work on it, you
know, five days again this year, 'cause you know what, you don't
have time to do it before. It's gonna be like "Name That Tune":
"I could do the GRAMMYs in two days next year."
Last year seemed like it must have been
crazy trying to get it together so quickly.
It was, but the only difference was, I was locked in a room
with no windows, and we were just writing a monologue. So it
didn't feel much different quite honestly than my regular job.
Other than the fact that at the other job, I have windows. And
every now and again, I open the door to go to the bathroom or
something, and, you know, Destiny's Child would walk by. Like,
it was just weird. I'm not used to being around that environment.
Not while going to the bathroom ...
You know what? Actually, now that I think about it, I was in
the wrong room. [But I'm] just not used to the rock stars' life
of ease of getting stuff done like, if you say, "Boy
I could really just go for a coffee right now," two runners
would be, like, "Okay, you want it steamed?" You know, it's
just a different vibe.
And they treated you that way?
Yeah, they did. All you need in the music world is a laminate.
For all they know you're in U2. They don't know. You have a
laminate? Forget it. You're gold.
What was it like last year when you presided
over a historic moment when Elton and Eminem performed together?
I think by then the show was almost over so I think at that
point I'm not even sure I was watching anymore. I was just in
the back trying to, you know, get the back sweat out of my shirt.
You know, I thought it was a neat pairing, and I enjoy that
song, and I thought they did a nice job of it. But I was never
of the mind-set that, you know, my God, this wasn't Gandhi and
Nehru getting together. This wasn't a historic coupling on the
lines of your Lewis and Clarks. I mean, it was a nice musical
You don't see it differently in retrospect?
In retrospect, even less so. I remember the days when the tightened
security was because of Eminem and Elton John. Innocent
times, if you will.
I thought it was one of the funniest lines
in the show when you said you met Eminem backstage and he was
Well, I hope so. I hope I'd have one f**king good line in the
Did he kick your ass after saying that?
Not that I'm aware of. I think the guy's got a pretty good sense
of humor. I think I just got his autograph and that was about
the end of it. Signed a baseball, and I was done.
Of the two, upcoming Oscar host Whoopi
Goldberg and Emmy host Ellen DeGeneres, who do you think is
the better singer?
Uh, I don't know who the better singer is. I just know that
I'm the most womanly. Actually, you know what? I think Ellen
actually can sing. I heard her sing on "SNL," I think, and she
does have a pretty nice voice. So I'm gonna put my vote with
What surprised you the most about hosting
the GRAMMYs last year?
I think what surprised me most about the night is that Christina
Aguilera is only 11 inches tall and could actually fit inside
that little ball that they lowered from the ceiling. What surprised
me most was how many people surround each musical act. I kept
thinking that Muhammad Ali was coming down the corridor, which
turned out to be, you know, the Blue Man Group. Every musical
act had quite a few handlers, so it was interesting. You never
actually saw the act. You just sort of saw this phalanx of,
I assume, handlers.
Which I guess is sort of the point.
I guess [laughs].
How was it working in front of music's
biggest artists and VIPs that night?
The beauty of that is I have no idea who they are. So the slightly
balding graying gentleman in the front who's frowning at me
and could crush my musical career doesn't affect me as much
because I have no music career. But, I don't think I feel nervous
about that. Connecting with an audience that's very inside as
well as trying to connect to an audience that's at home is really
the more difficult situation: how inside do you play it? And
the fact of the matter is how inside can I play it; I
really know nothing about the music industry [laughs]. So I
could try to play it inside, like, "Hey, how about those ...
seven album ... 10 percent commission ... deal, "... I really
don't know anything about it, so I'm sure I'd sound like an
But in the last year you've been reading
up on it.
I have not. I don't think I've even listened to music since
Have you been following the Courtney Love
You know what? I did read about that. She's suing the other
two guys from Nirvana?
That's one of them, but she's got, like,
eight lawsuits going.
Oh, is that true? That's exciting.
What was it really like to work at MTV?
Magic. No, it was very similar to working at a party at your
friend's house when his parents weren't home. A lot of beer
caps in the potted plants.
Do you think it's still that way?
I don't think so.
They've gone corporate?
I just think they went professional, as opposed to what we were
doing, which was idiotic.
I went on Amazon.com and I couldn't find
any Jon Stewart CDs.
Uh, now, under what genre did you look?
Well, mostly comedy, but I looked under
Hmm. Well, I did something [with a] a throat band, a Mongolian
throat band that I've done some work with.
So you're actually listed in the credits?
Uh, under my Mongolian name. I did a remake obviously of Eddie
Murphy's "Party All The Time," a capella with just a slight
hint of klezmer, but that hasn't gone anywhere. Again, the beauty
of me hosting the GRAMMYs: absolutely no musical ability whatsoever.
Honestly, somebody gets out there and throws down "Chopsticks,"
I'm blown away.
What was the first record you bought?
You know what? I think the first one I got was, like, KISS
Live or something.
That's kind of cool.
Not at the time. Sweet, I think it was Sweet, remember Sweet?
"Sweet F.A.," "Ballroom Blitz"...
... "Fox On The Run"... Do you still have
I still have them, actually, the vinyls.
With, theoretically, a little more planning
time, any Billy Crystal-esque opening numbers in the works?
Billy has gone on and done song parodies of the movies that
were nominated. I will be doing movie parodies of the songs
that were nominated.
I think that's an excellent idea.
Thank you. I'm excited. Dude, let me ask you this. If I'm I
gonna be hosting, do I get named on any Dick Clark stuff? Am
I safe from that? How angry is that guy? How much show business
do you have to be in? He already owns New Year's Eve. What else
do you need?