Comedy's managing editor
Jon Stewart's finds his humor in the headlines as he and his staff crank out Comedy Central's Daily Show.
By ROBERT HICKS
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 27, 2003
[Photo: Comedy Central]
Four years ago, Comedy Central recruited Jon Stewart to take over Craig Kilborns anchor slot at the Daily Show.
NEW YORK -- Jon Stewart can find humor even in the blizzard that dropped 20 inches of snow on beleaguered New York City, where he hosts Comedy Central's Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
"The streets are finally a little more cluttered," he deadpans. "I think that's what we needed."
Stewart is well known for poking fun at Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il on the Daily Show, but he got his start in the '80s as a stand-up comic at New York clubs such as the Bitter End and the Comedy Cellar.
The New Jersey native will bring the latest edition of his stand-up routine to the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center on Saturday.
"I'm gonna mostly open with an acoustic set. I'll close with my patented rock opera. It'll probably be a paranoid journey through the events of today," he quips. "I'll probably talk about the High Alert, the alert system that matches your sweater. I always like it when the terror I feel matches what I'm wearing."
"It's the standard stuff you'd find if you cruised the Web site for CNN," he says of his topical brand of humor.
Politics, however, wasn't the main reason Stewart got into comedy. His love of writing led him to write humorous short stories for magazines and, later, comedy scripts for television shows on MTV, HBO and Comedy Central.
"I believe alcohol was involved. I believe the good people at Budweiser," he quips. "No, really, I always wanted to write, and I just sort of gravitated to writing humor and wanted to perform it. From that point on, it was just trying to get good at it."
Stewart has written for magazines that include the New Yorker and Esquire. Among his TV credits are his 1996 hourlong HBO special, Comedy Central's Short Attention Span Theater and HBO's The Larry Sanders Show.
Four years ago, Comedy Central recruited Stewart to take over Craig Kilborn's anchor slot at the Daily Show. He began in January 1999, timed to the release of his book, Naked Pictures of Famous People, a collection of humorous what-if essays. That same year, he appeared in three movies: Big Daddy, starring Adam Sandler, Playing By Heart, opposite Gillian Anderson and director Robert Rodriguez's horror-comedy, The Faculty. Stewart more recently played a ruthless network executive in Danny DeVito's Death To Smoochy.
As the Daily Show's host, co-writer and executive producer, Stewart describes himself as a "kind of managing editor" of his team of writers.
"Because we're parodying a news organization, we function like a fake one. Our days are very much like it would be like at a news organization. We get in at a certain time in the morning and examine what's out there and just write our jokes based on that."
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PREVIEW: Jon Stewart, 8 p.m. Saturday, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Tampa. $29.50-$49. (813) 229-7827.
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