"Nightline Up Close: Jon Stewart"
November 12, 2002
by Richard Harris, Senior Producer


"I think for me, in some respects, it's -- I'm attempting to scratch an itch, and I want to make humor about things I care about... There are 180 channels and they can't all be about do-it-yourself; they can't all be about putting up siding. So we're just filling the large real estate mall of entertainment. I mean, honestly, without cable, I wouldn't have a job." -- Jon Stewart

UpClose tonight, Nov. 12: Jon Stewart

Don't count on it. He's not only funny, but he manages to weave the news of the day into a topical humor that doesn't easily offend. It's not an easy trick, but Jon Stewart pulls it off each night on "The Daily Show," a satire of a daily news broadcast that borders on parody.

When Jon Stewart took his show to Washington several weeks back, Ted Koppel was among his guests. So it was only natural that Jon sit down for an UpClose conversation with Ted. What you'll immediately learn from him tonight is that the road to comedy stardom is paved with an assortment of odd jobs -- shelf stocker at Woolworth's, bakery worker, puppet master and, I kid you not, mosquito sorter:

"We had these huge bell traps that had car batteries attached to them, and we would go there at night...and what we did is we put women's pantyhose around large coffee cups, and the battery would power a light in the fan. All the bugs would fly towards it; then they'd get sucked in through the fan and get trapped. So we would have giant cups, you know, I believe at Starbucks they'd be called Vente Lattes, filled with bugs...and you would knock them out with chloroform. And here's the sad part. The chloroform would knock them out for about 45 minutes but the sorting took about an hour and 15 minutes...I could spot a male or a female from across the room..."

But make no mistake, in Stewart's book, there's no "making it." It doesn't matter that he's hosted the Grammy Awards twice or hosts his own daily comedy show or written a book. Stewart sees himself as a work in progress: "There is no 'making it' and you can't look at it that way because there is no -- there is no exalted platform that those who have made it get to sit on and stare deeply down."

He may not have an exalted platform, but in the world of comedy, "The Daily Show" is not a bad place to scratch an itch or two.


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