Stand-up comedian, TV host, and author
Jonathan "Jon" Stewart (born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz; November 28, 1962) is an American comedian, television host, and political satirist. He is best known as host of The Daily Show, a satirical news program airing on Comedy Central.
Stewart started as a stand-up comedian, but later branched out to television, hosting Short Attention Span Theater for Comedy Central. He went on to host his own show on MTV, called The Jon Stewart Show, and then hosted another show on MTV called You Wrote It, You Watch It. He has also had several film roles as an actor.
Stewart became the host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central in early 1999. He is also a writer and co-producer of the show. After Stewart joined, The Daily Show steadily gained popularity and critical acclaim leading to his first Emmy Award in 2001. Stewart himself has also gained significant acclaim as a critic of the Bush administration and of personality-driven media shows, in particular the coverage of the U.S. news media networks CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC. Critics say Stewart benefits from a double standard: he critiques other news shows from the safe, removed position of his "fake news" desk. Stewart himself agrees, countering that neither his show nor his channel purports to be anything other than satire and comedy. In spite of its self-professed entertainment mandate, The Daily Show has been nominated for a number of news and journalism awards.
Stewart hosted the 78th Academy Awards and the 80th Academy Awards and is the co-author of America (The Book) which was one of the best-selling books in the U.S in 2004.
Jon Stewart was born in New York City to a Jewish family and grew up in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, where he attended Lawrence High School. His mother, Marian, is an educational consultant and teacher, and his father, Donald Leibowitz, is a physics professor at The College of New Jersey. Stewart was a member of the school band as a French horn player. Stewart has said that he was subjected to considerable harassment from some of his classmates as he was the only Jewish student. He describes himself in high school as "very into Eugene Debs and a bit of a leftist." He graduated from Lawrence High School third in his class and was voted "Best Sense of Humor."
Stewart attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, majoring in psychology and playing on the men's soccer team. An award titled the "Leibo" is now given out annually in honor of Stewart to the member of the men's soccer team who experiences the most personal growth and provides the most laughs for his teammates. Stewart claims he was "miserable" in college.
After graduating from William and Mary in 1984, Stewart held numerous jobs, including: contingency planner for the New Jersey Department of Human Services, contract administrator for City University of New York, puppeteer for children with disabilities, construction worker, caterer, busboy, shelf stocker at Woolworth's, assistant soccer coach at a high school, and bartender at a local blue-collar bar, the Franklin Corner Tavern. During part of this time, Stewart roomed with future congressman Anthony Weiner, who, to date, is the only politician to have received campaign donations from the Daily Show host.
Stewart married Tracey McShane, his girlfriend of four years, in 2000. The couple met on a blind date set up by a production assistant on Stewart's film, Wishful Thinking.
On June 19, 2001, Stewart and his wife filed a joint name-change application and legally changed both of their surnames to "Stewart."
He proposed to his future wife through a personalized crossword puzzle created with the help of Will Shortz, the crossword editor at The New York Times. The couple had their first child, Nathan Thomas Stewart (named after Stewart's grandfather), on July 3, 2004. Their second child, a daughter, Maggie Rose Stewart, was born on February 4, 2006. They also have a cat named Stanley and two pit bull terriers, Monkey and Shamsky, (named after Art Shamsky).
In 2004, Stewart spoke at the commencement ceremonies at his alma mater, William and Mary, and was presented with an honorary Doctor of Arts degree. Stewart was also the Class Day keynote speaker at Princeton University in 2004, and the 2008 Sacerdote great names speaker at Hamilton College. In addition to his interest in soccer, Jon Stewart is also an avid baseball fan; his favorite team is the New York Mets. He describes his political affiliation as independent or socialist. "I think I would say I'm more of a socialist or an independent" His height of 5 foot 7 inches often appears in Stewart's self-deprecating humor.
With a reputation for being a funny man even in school, Jon Stewart moved to New York City in 1986 to try his hand at the comedy club circuit, but he could not muster the courage to get on stage until the following year. He made his stand-up debut at The Bitter End, the same place where his comedic idol, Woody Allen, began. He began using the stage name "Jon Stewart" by dropping his last name and changing the spelling of his middle name "Stuart" to "Stewart." He often jokes this is because people had difficulty with the pronunciation of Leibowitz or it "sounded too Hollywood," (a reference to Lenny Bruce's joke on the same theme). He has implied that the name change was actually due to a strained relationship with his father. Stewart became a regular at the Comedy Cellar where he was the last performer every night. For two years, he would perform at 2 a.m. while developing his comedic style. In 1989, he landed his first television job as a writer for Caroline's Comedy Hour. In 1991, he began hosting Comedy Central's Short Attention Span Theater. In 1992, Stewart hosted the short-lived You Wrote It, You Watch It on MTV, which invited viewers to send in their stories to be acted out by the comedy troupe The State. When David Letterman left NBC in 1993, Stewart was a finalist to replace him, but Conan O'Brien was hired instead.
Later in 1993, Stewart developed his own talk show at MTV. Despite the quick cancellation of his previous MTV show, the network was still eager to work with him. The Jon Stewart Show was the first talk show on that network and was an instant hit, becoming the second- highest rated MTV show behind Beavis and Butt-head. In 1994, Paramount pulled the plug on The Arsenio Hall Show and, with new corporate sibling MTV (through MTV parent Viacom's acquisition of the studio), launched an hour-long syndicated late-night version of The Jon Stewart Show'. Many local affiliates had moved Hall's show to 2 a.m. during its decline and Stewart's show inherited such early morning time slots in many cities. Ratings were dismal and the show was canceled in June 1995.
Amongst the fans of the show was David Letterman, who was the final guest of The Jon Stewart Show. Letterman signed Stewart with his production company, Worldwide Pants. Stewart then became a frequent guest host for Tom Snyder on The Late Late Show, which was produced by Letterman and aired after Late Show on CBS. This led to much speculation that Stewart would soon replace Snyder permanently, yet Stewart was instead offered the time slot after Snyder, which he turned down.
In 1999, Stewart began hosting The Daily Show on Comedy Central when Craig Kilborn left the show to replace Tom Snyder on The Late Late Show. The show, which has been hugely popular and wildly successful in cable television since Stewart became the host, blends humor with the day's top news stories, usually in politics, while simultaneously poking fun at politicians and many newsmakers as well as the news media itself. In an interview on The O'Reilly Factor, Stewart denies the show has any intentional political agenda, saying the goal was "schnicks and giggles." "The same weakness that drove me into comedy also informs my show," meaning that he was uncomfortable talking without hearing the audience laugh.
Stewart has since hosted almost all airings of the program, except for a few occasions when correspondents such as Stephen Colbert, Rob Corddry, and for a whole week Steve Carell, have filled in at the anchor desk. Stewart has won a total of ten Emmys for The Daily Show as either a writer or producer. In 2005, The Daily Show and Jon Stewart also received a Best Comedy Album Grammy Award for the audio book edition of America (The Book). In 2000 and 2004, the show won two Peabody Awards for its coverage of the presidential elections relevant to those years, called "Indecision 2000" and "Indecision 2004," respectively.
One of the show's most serious moments remains the September 20, 2001 show—the first show after the attacks of September 11, 2001. The show began with no introduction. Prior to this date, The Daily Show introduction included footage of a fly-in towards the World Trade Center and New York City. The first nine minutes of the show included a tearful Stewart discussing his personal view on the event. His remarks ended as follows:" The view... from my apartment... was the World Trade Center... and now it's gone, and they attacked it. This was a symbol of American ingenuity, and strength, and labor, and imagination and commerce, and it is gone. But you know what the view is now? The Statue of Liberty. The view from the South of Manhattan is now the Statue of Liberty. You can't beat that." "
Another notable moment occurred on April 4, 2006, when Stewart confronted his longtime friend, US Senator John McCain, about his decision to appear at Liberty University, an institution founded by Jerry Falwell, a man who McCain had previously denounced as one of the "agents of intolerance," In the interchange, Stewart asked McCain, "You're not freaking out on us? Are you freaking out on us, because if you're freaking out and you're going into the crazy base [politics] world—are you going into crazy base world?" McCain replied, "I'm afraid so." The clip was played on CNN and created a surge of articles across the blogosphere.
Most recently The Daily Show was involved in former correspondent Stephen Colbert's announcement that he would run for president in 2008.
On October 18, 2007, Stewart renewed his contract with Comedy Central and will continue to host The Daily Show through 2010.
Stewart is paid a reported $1.5 million for one season of The Daily Show. According to the Forbes list of Celebrities, he earns $14 million per year.
In the middle of 2002, amid rumors that David Letterman was going to make a switch from CBS to ABC when his contract ran out with the former, Stewart was rumored to be the person who would take over Letterman's show on CBS. But ultimately, Letterman renewed his contract with CBS. On the March 9, 2002 episode of Saturday Night Live, hosted by Stewart, a "Weekend Update" sketch poked fun at the situation. In the middle of the sketch, Weekend Update anchor Jimmy Fallon said that he could not continue doing the broadcast and he brought Stewart in to replace him. Stewart glowed with excitement and chattered to himself about this chance to prove himself on network television. His pep talk went on too long, however, and before Stewart could deliver any headlines, Fallon returned and said he would be able to finish out the broadcast himself.
Later that year, ABC offered Stewart his own talk show to air after Nightline'. Stewart's contract with The Daily Show was near expiring and he expressed strong interest. But ABC decided to give another Comedy Central figure, Jimmy Kimmel, the post-Nightline slot.
Stand-up comedian, TV host, and author
American comedian, actor, writer and producer
A comedian and TV host