Stewart, Jon


Stewart, Jon
▪ 2005

      With more and more people getting their news from late-night television comedy shows, Jon Stewart proved in 2004 that although he might not yet be the U.S.'s most trusted news source, he definitely was one of its funniest. As host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, a newscast parody that spoofed newsmakers and those who reported the news, Stewart and a team of correspondents recapped the day's events and nonevents, offering satiric commentary on politics and pop culture. The show, which also featured a celebrity interview, covered topics ranging from the Iraqi conflict (upgraded from “Mess O'Potamia” to “Giant Mess O'Potamia”) to a man who constructed a UFO welcome centre on his front lawn. Stewart, who joined the program in 1999 and also served as a writer, earned particular praise for his self-deprecating and acerbic humour. After signing a four-year contract extension in March 2004, he led the show's coverage of the presidential election, dubbed “Indecision 2004,” to critical acclaim and saw the publication later in the year of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America (the Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction, which he co-wrote.

      Jonathan Stewart Leibowitz was born on Nov. 28, 1962, in New York City and graduated (1984) from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. He then held a series of odd jobs, including puppeteer, before pursuing a career in comedy. In the late 1980s he began performing stand-up under the name Jon Stewart and quickly became popular on the club circuit. By the early 1990s he was appearing regularly on television, and after hosting the MTV series You Wrote It, You Watch It (1992), he was given his own program, The Jon Stewart Show. Featuring celebrity interviews and comedy sketches, it debuted in 1993 but lasted only two years despite having received positive reviews. Stewart continued to appear on various shows and from 1996 to 1998 was a frequent guest on the HBO series The Larry Sanders Show. Stewart, who made his big-screen debut in the 1994 film Mixed Nuts, also appeared in a number of films, including Half Baked (1998), The Faculty (1998), and Big Daddy (1999).

      Stewart did not return to the host's chair until January 1999, when he replaced Craig Kilborn on The Daily Show. With Stewart as anchor, the show increased its viewership dramatically. During the 2000 presidential campaign, its satiric and comprehensive “Indecision 2000” coverage— The Daily Show correspondents reported from the caucuses and national conventions—became so popular that on election night its viewership rivaled that of some serious news programs. In 2000 the show earned a Peabody Award, and at the 2003 Emmys The Daily Show won for best series and best writing in the variety, music, or comedy category.

Amy Tikkanen

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▪ American comedian
original name  Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz 
born Nov. 28, 1962, New York, N.Y., U.S.

      American comedian and host of the satiric television news program The Daily Show.

      Stewart graduated from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., in 1984 and then held a series of odd jobs before pursuing a career in comedy. In the late 1980s he began performing stand-up comedy under the name Jon Stewart and quickly became popular on the club circuit. By the early 1990s he was appearing regularly on television, and, after hosting the MTV series You Wrote It, You Watch It (1992), he was given his own program, The Jon Stewart Show. Featuring celebrity interviews and comedy sketches, it debuted in 1993 but lasted only two years, despite receiving positive reviews. Stewart, who made his big-screen debut in the 1994 film Mixed Nuts, also appeared in a number of films, including Half Baked (1998), The Faculty (1998), and Big Daddy (1999).

      Stewart returned to hosting in January 1999 when he replaced Craig Kilborn on The Daily Show, a fake news program on the Comedy Central cable network that satirized media, politics, and pop culture. With Stewart as anchor, the show increased its viewership dramatically. During the 2000 U.S. presidential campaign, its satiric and comprehensive “Indecision 2000” coverage—featuring The Daily Show correspondents reporting from the caucuses and national conventions—became so popular that on election night its viewership rivaled that of some traditional news programs. Indeed, many prominent politicians, journalists, and pundits began to appear on the show to discuss current affairs (and exchange jokes) with Stewart. The program also launched the careers of many of its correspondents, including Stephen Colbert (Colbert, Stephen), Steve Carell, and Lewis Black. The Daily Show earned Peabody Awards in 2000 and 2004 and garnered a number of Emmy Awards (Emmy Award).

      Stewart hosted several awards shows, most notably the Academy Awards in 2006. Although his appearance received mixed reviews, it was announced in 2007 that he would return as the ceremony's host the following year. Stewart's books include Naked Pictures of Famous People (1998) and (with the writing staff of The Daily Show) the best-selling America (the Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction (2004).

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Universalium. 2010.

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