Naked Pictures of Famous People review
"Get Naked"
Arizona Republic
January 14, 1999
by Kevin Murphy


Now that he's got your attention, Jon Stewart would like you to buy his book.

Jon Stewart is mounting quite a comeback. The 36-year-old comedian is rising from the ashes of a canceled talk show in 1995, when, apparently, nobody watched him.

Now, television can't seem to get enough of him. On Monday, Stewart replaced Craig Kilborn as host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show. Stewart also was rumored as a strong candidate to replace either Tom Snyder on CBS' The Late Late Show (Kilborn's new home) or Gary Shandling on HBO's The Larry Sanders Show, where Stewart became a regular.

So it's probably no coincidence that his first book, Naked Pictures of Famous People, was released in the midst of all this Stewart-mania. For those who don't subscribe to cable and have no idea what Stewart's about, Naked Pictures is a healthy dose of the comic at his best. The book is a collection of extremely fictitious essays laced with Stewart's sardonic wit and self-deprecating Jewish humor.

In the essay format, Stewart is able to come off as snappy and sarcastic as he does on TV; it's like reading the script to one of his stand-up routines. The essays make for an extremely quick read, if you can grasp all of the historical references the first time around. Most importantly, though, the book is laugh-out-loud funny (although it should be said that not all of it is rated PG).

In "The Cult," Stewart poses as the leader of a messianic cult, trying to convince his devout followers that Captain Crunch "will spring to life from his resting place on the back of a cereal box and deliver us to our eternal bliss."

"Adolf Hitler: The Larry King Interview" details an interview in 1999 between King and the once-thought-dead dictator.

"KING: And this . . . new Hitler?"

"HITLER: I get up at seven, have half a melon, do the Jumble in the morning paper and then let the day take me where it will. Some days I'll fish, maybe hit the mall for an Orange Julius. The other day I spent seven hours in the park watching ants cart off part of a sandwich. Me!! The inventor of the Blitzkrieg... When you stop having to control everything, it's very freeing."

But it's Stewart's ability to laugh at himself, or rather his Jewish ethnicity, that most often pops up throughout the book. In "The New Judaism," Stewart lays the foundation for a new American Judaism for the next millennium. First, Stewart details the Jews' past history of escaping extinction, including the Spanish Inquisition, the Third Reich and the Burger King bacon, egg and cheese Croissan'wich: "A sinful combination of pork, cheese and egg. The Triple Crown of non-kosher living -- why does it have to be so delicious?" Then, he calls for a few changes, which include a new god ("Uncle Pete") and a new mascot ("Jewey"). "Imagine a Bar Mitzvah boy's excitement at knowing he just became a man, and that Jewey's on his way with money and cigarettes. And here's the best part... He can fly!!"

Fortunately, if someone decides to pull the plug on Stewart's TV career this time around, we can always find him on a bookshelf somewhere.


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