I’ve had an unadulterated crush on Jon Stewart for at least twenty years now. His MTV show was syndicated – 94/95 – and introduced me to the music of Soul Coughing, Marilyn Manson, and so many others. It was a beautiful mash-up of random, stupid comedy and some not too bad interviews. Overall it was perfect after going to see some pseudo-grunge indie band at the Town Pump or some such dive bar downtown.
Then he was not renewed. I was sad – so sad.
Then he joined up with the Daily Show.
At first I was scared — how could this guy – who did a one-man monologue of Anna Nicole’s life (before she passed), be a guy behind a desk in a suit.
His sarcasm, smarmy self-confidence translated well to the format – it was the jolt of no b.s. talk that TV needed at the time. It was pre-internet! I can’t believe that – but it was! His choice of co-anchors and comedians to support him was amazing – between Stephen Colbert and Steve Carrell, and everyone else since then that he’s brought on the show, his strength was who he chose to surround himself with.
So fast-forward to my first trip to New York City where I was able to see his show. 2007 I think it was – George Bush was still in office, and for some god-awful reason he had Dick Cheney’s wife on to promote her book, which prompted the segments “You don’t know Richard”, a take off on his own segment “You Don’t Know Dick” where he’d rip into Cheney at every possible option.
He was clearly uncomfortable, and this spread to the audience. I was sitting two rows behind Judah Friedlander, and was just totally overwhelmed and in awe of the insanity that New York brought together.
Fast-forward to my next experience with his show. 2008, the day after the election that elected Barak Obama to office. I won’t go in to that experience, but that Daily Show was something also for the record books. This time I went alone, was herded into the set, and the mood was so elevated. Paul Rudd was the guest, and pretty much the whole show was just Jon Stewart – and the rest of the crowd – just laughing harder than I’d ever heard in an audience. I swear he could have thrown some horrid jokes out and they would have landed. Didn’t matter – the audience was amped to be done with George Bush, and to be in the space and with the person that made the biggest impact culturally that we’d ever seen.
10 years ago, I wanted to be an intern. I would have loved to have been in that environment, with those people. But I was held back because I thought I had to be “on a path” and “make money”. Fast-forward to me now, and I’m in no better or worse position than I was then. The “me now” wants to beat up the “me then” for hesitating or for thinking that my current situation was irreversible or somehow concretized. It wasn’t, and it angers me that it took me an extra how many years to figure that out.
With my time closing to be an intern (almost 40 years old now– and a week left of his show) I guess I’ll have to choose another adventure for myself. I hope Jon Stewart’s next adventure is perfect – whatever it will be. I have a feeling he’ll be back in some capacity, and I hope he keeps his role of supporting and helping out young comedians in their careers. I really hope so. I remember being just as crushed when his syndicated show was cancelled 20 years ago or so – although maybe years have told me that people in the spotlight always gravitate back. Maybe there’s a bit of hope for me to intern at one point in the future – I don’t really care, it might be my retirement plan.