Jon Stewart considers himself uniquely qualified
to host the Grammy Awards.
"Look, I had the Kiss live albums," the 39-year-old
said comic recently, recalling his wayward youth as a New Jersey
rock 'n' roller. "I was indeed part of the Kiss Army."
Actually, he was kidding. He is a kidder,
after all. The talking head of Comedy Central's mock newscast
"The Daily Show," Stewart was one of the more amusing awards-show
hosts in recent memory at last year's Grammys.
A good part of his appeal was his Johnny Carson-for-the-'00s
style of self- deprecation. At one point, realizing a joke wasn't
clicking, he gazed into the camera and deadpanned, "I suck."
This year, he's just glad to be back. He only
got the gig in the first place, he told a conference call of
reporters, when Whoopi Goldberg was unavailable.
Two weeks before tonight's broadcast, he was
still suggesting that the Grammy people might pull a Mariah
Carey on him: "At the last minute, I could be paid millions
of dollars not to do jokes."
Waxing serious for a brief moment, he pointed
out that his biggest role is to get out of the way. "The nice
part about the show is it really is about the performances.
As long as I don't ruin those -- as long as I don't trip over
somebody's amplifier wire or something -- we'll be OK."
When someone asked whether Chris Rock might
be an equally good choice to host the show, Stewart readily
agreed. "Chris' security people are much stronger than mine,"
he said. "All mine have asthma."