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Jon Stewart is a late-night legend. He was the heart and soul of one of America’s favorite talk shows for almost two decades and though he retired from his position hosting The Daily Show, he still occasionally drops by other late-night shows, reportedly sleeping under the desk of Stephen Colbert. Of course, he’s allowed to miss his job, but taking up residence under the Late Show desk might be taking it a bit far. Just a little bit. Just because he’s retired doesn’t mean he’s inactive, as Stewart has taken up the cause of ensuring that heroes who risked their lives on 9/11 are properly taken care of and get the help they deserve. He also dabbles a bit in producing and though the Oscars seem to be allergic to comedy, Stewart’s recently released Irresistible should at least be up for consideration for the 2021 awards. Stewart has earned his place on the Mt. Olympus of comedy gods along with Jay Leno, George Carlin, and the kids from “Charlie Bit My Finger.”
#1- You’d think he’d get tired of New York.
Jon Stewart was born, raised, and has spent most of his life in the city that never sleeps. You’d think he’d get sick of the bitter-cold winters, rude people, and rats that have mutated the ability to carry pizza down subway stairs. He has adapted to stand temperatures in the single digits and subway stations where it always smells to some degree or other like pee. He’s stayed in the city since childhood and hasn’t shown any signs that he wants to leave any time soon.
#2- His grandfather was born in Inner Mongolia and raised in China.
Let’s face it, Jon Stewart’s skin color makes one think he’d burn at the mere sight of the sun. That’s why it comes as a surprise that his grandpa was born in Inner Mongolia and raised in a small Jewish community in China.
#3- Even the biggest Jon Stewart fans don’t know about his first TV appearance.
At the tender age of nine, Stewart appeared along with his school band on the children’s show Captain Noah and His Magical Ark. Young Stewart played the trumpet.
#4- It was originally “Stuart,” not “Stewart.”
Jon Stewart was born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz. When young Jon’s parents got a divorce, Stewart didn’t want to spite his dad by changing his last name to his mom’s maiden name. He found a creative way to not hurt either of his parents’ feelings by dropping the last name entirely so that his middle name would become his last name. Why he changed the spelling is anyone’s guess, but perhaps it was to make it seem more last name-esque.
#5- Stewart would’ve made the folks at Fox News squirm long before he became famous.
Stewart has been on team donkey since high school. In the time when people are most concerned about who’s the hottest girl in class and whether their weed dealer is legit (he’s not, he’s selling drugs to 14-year-olds), Stewart was already starting to gain an interest in politics and had fully formed political views. He describes his high school self as, “very into Eugene Debs and a bit of a leftist.”
#6- He grew up with a healthy skepticism of authority.
Stewart grew up during the times of the Vietnam War and Watergate, two events that proved that despite American flag car decals and thongs, the US is indeed not the greatest country in the world. Stewart didn’t grow up to blow up the Capital building and loot every American Apparel and Federal Express in sight, but he did learn to question the actions of people in positions of authority.
#7- He hates deep dish with a vengeance.
New Yorkers are very proud of having discovered the secret for making the best damn pizza in the world. There’s probably somewhat decent pizza in Italy, but there’s nothing on Earth quite like a New York slice. Jon Stewart happens to be so proud that he refuses to give any credit to the city that founded the second-best pizza in the US, Chicago’s deep dish. I’m from NY, so I understand thin-crust pride, but deep dish is pretty tasty. Stewart would call this opinion blasphemy as he made clear in his infamous Daily Show rant on the subject of pizza supremacy. At least we can all agree that Hawaiian pizza is a crime against nature.
#8- He studied psychology in college.
Stewart left his home and native land to go to college at William and Mary in Virginia. How he survived four years without a pizzeria on every block, I could never understand. His major was a natural choice for a future comedian: he originally majored in chemistry, but then switched to psych. However, it was in college that he discovered his talent for making people laugh which eventually led him towards his future career.
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#9- He was a soccer player.
Stewart played soccer at William and Mary. The school’s team later honored him by giving out the “Liebo” award, named after Stewart’s birth last name. The award is given to the kind-hearted funny guy on the team.
#10- He’s anti-frat.
During his days at William and Mary, Stewart joined Pi Kappa Alpha for six months. Apparently, he got tired of all the parties and discoveries of new places on the body with which to ingest alcohol because he quit after six months. He believes that frats are pointless and currently has no allegiance to his frat.
#11- He rescues pit bulls.
Stewart’s known as an advocate for 9/11 heroes, but did you know he’s also an advocate for a slightly more furry victim who’s been cheated by society? Pit bulls are a misunderstood breed. Because they have been portrayed in the media as big, scary dogs from hell, people are often hesitant to adopt them and give them a forever home. In reality, they’re just as cute and cuddly as any other dog and are like giant sentient teddy bears. Not only does Stewart have several pit bulls of his own, including three-legged cutie Little Dipper, but he is known in the dog-loving community as an outspoken advocate for the world’s biggest Mr. Rogers in canine form.
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#12- The Daily Show has always been a dog-friendly office.
Stewart started a tradition in the Daily Show office which Trevor Noah later continued once Stewart left: all furry friends are welcome. “On any given day, a half dozen dogs roam the halls, scavenge for treats and bark when people start clapping at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” says Daily Show Dogs, a Facebook page that records the adorable activities of the biggest four-legged fans of the show. Those lucky pups got to hang out where tons of aspiring comedians dream of making it someday.
#13- He made sure to let audiences know his stance on puppy-mills.
Puppy-mills are the worst. They breed designer dogs for profit and dogs raised in them are kept in cramped cages and never exposed to sunlight. Stewart made clear his justified hatred of puppy mills when he sent Daily Show correspondent Olivia Munn to interview a puppy mill supporter. I’m trying my hardest not to judge, but imagine a supporter of the Darth Vader of puppies. That was what the interviewee was like.
#14- He’s married to a veterinary technician.
Fittingly for such a dog lover, Jon Stewart tied the knot with a vet. Tracey McShane is just as much a dog advocate as Jon and she occasionally appears on talk shows to talk about her activism work for dogs and other animals.
For years, David Letterman hosted two of the greatest late-night shows of all time. When the network was searching for a successor for Late Night after Letterman’s departure, a potential candidate was Jon Stewart, soon taking on the role of hosting The Jon Stewart Show on MTV. Letterman himself was a fan of Stewart’s and had made a guest appearance on his show as an interviewee. Unfortunately, Stewart did not get the job, but this left his schedule clear for his eventual gig on The Daily Show.
#16- In 1999, he was on People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People in the World” list.
Nowadays, we see Jon Stewart as America’s dad who actually makes non-cringey dad jokes. And, like our actual dads, we could never picture him on a list of the most beautiful anything. No offense, Jon, we think of you more like a cuddly joke spewing teddy bear than a Chris Hemsworth type. But yes, Stewart made People’s list of the 50 most beautiful people back in 1999.
#17- Shortly after starting on The Daily Show, Stewart considered quitting.
Insert that Office meme of Michael shouting “NO!!” Yes, Jon Stewart could’ve changed TV history forever if he had quit The Daily Show, which he considered shortly after starting his hosting gig. Stewart had a lot of clashes with the powers that be at the show over the direction that the show would take. Fortunately, Stewart decided to tough it out so he could proceed to make history.
#18- He quit smoking in 2000.
In 2000, Stewart decided that maybe tar-filled lungs weren’t the best if he wanted to live a long life. The CGL Foundation approached him and implored him to quit smoking and he took their advice.
#19- Jimmy Kimmel Live could’ve been Jon Stewart Live.
In 2002, ABC was looking for a host for the popular talk show. The studio’s first thought was Jon Stewart, but fate took a turn and Jimmy Kimmel got the job instead.
We know Colbert now as the host of one of the most popular political talk shows on TV. But, when Stewart first met Colbert, he was uninterested in political comedy. Stewart took Colbert under his wing and helped him realize how awesome political satire is.
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#21- Speaking of Colbert…
Stewart met Colbert’s future wife Evelyn McGee before Colbert met her. McGee is known for acting in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and Strangers with Candy. She also has appeared beside her husband as a guest on The Late Show.
#22- He did uncredited work writing for Caroline’s Comedy Hour.
It makes sense given his background in stand-up that Jon Stewart would do a little work on a show all about stand up on the side. Caroline’s Comedy Hour compiled recordings of stand up performances at Caroline’s Comedy Club in NYC.
#23- His greatest inspirations double as some of the greatest comedians of all time.
Some of Stewart’s idols include Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, and Steve Martin. Aspiring stand-ups, if you want a list of comedians you should be watching on a regular basis, there you have it. Just add Jon Stewart to the list and you’ll be set!
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#24- He wanted to adapt Jack Finney’s The Night People.
The Night People is a book written in 1977 about a couple that pulls innocent pranks that get out of hand. Jon Stewart saw potential in the story and optioned the rights for it, but the project never came to fruition. To this day, no movie adaptation has been made of the book.
#25- His production studio is called “Busboy Productions.”
After graduating college, Stewart worked a lot of odd jobs, including one as a busboy at a Mexican restaurant. I suppose employers weren’t looking for a joke-telling psychologist. Stewart paid homage to this time by naming his production company “Busboy Productions.”
#26- He betrayed his dogs!!
Well, kind of. He adopted a cat named Stan to go along with his two pit bulls, but I’m guessing his dogs were not very happy with the feline addition to the family. The analogy of cats are to dogs as Sharks are to Jets is on the first page of every zoology textbook.
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#27- He brought in the big bucks at The Daily Show.
In 2013, Stewart was the highest-paid host in late-night. His annual salary was $25-$30 million a year. Not that other late-night hosts are slumming it, but still…
#28- John Oliver hijacked the show for a summer.
John Oliver is now known as the host of one of the most popular late-night shows on TV today. According to him, Last Week Tonight is described by critics as, “More painful than a diuretic” and “makes people dumb.” I promise, most of the reviews are actually glowing and the show’s amazing, but who better to take it from than the man himself. In 2013, John Oliver hosted 12 weeks-worth of episodes of The Daily Show while Stewart was working on the set of a movie he wrote and directed called Rosewater.
#29- You can’t love all your guests.
Stewart’s least favorite guest on The Daily Show was Hugh Grant. Hugh Grant should be in the Hall of Fame for “Resident Heartthrobs of Hollywood” but sorry ladies, he’s a jerk. According to Stewart, he was rude to the staff of the show.
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#30- An impressive Emmy-winning streak is due to Stewart.
The Daily Show won the Emmy for “Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series” from 2003-2012. No TV show has ever come close to that winning streak before or since. The streak was broken by Daily Show alum Stephen Colbert with his show The Colbert Report, which Jon Stewart had a hand in producing, so still technically a win for Jon.
#31- The funniest moment of Night of Too Many Stars…
Stewart hosted Night of Too Many Stars, an event to raise money for autism research back in 2017. Many former and current Daily Show correspondents performed during the event, but the funniest moment in the whole show was when John Oliver and Stephen Colbert got into a bit of a riff. John Oliver has been hogging Emmys ever since Last Week Tonight came on air and Colbert was trying to settle the score. The funniest line of the whole show came when Stewart said to both his former correspondents, “This is not how I raised you!”
#32- He recently released a movie to help combat quarantine boredom.
Stewart wrote and directed the political satire Irresistible and released it because we all needed a break from being on the brink of tearing our housemates’ eyes out due to the quarantine caused by COVID. The movie stars former Daily Show correspondent Steve Carell and is about a political strategist who goes to a small conservative town in the Midwest to get the townspeople excited about a Democratic candidate.
Hope you enjoyed getting to know our favorite talk show host Jon Stewart!
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