December 10, 2012

The Daily Show: Jon Stewart Nearly Called It Quits In 1999

Stewart Colbert 08 - photo by Jason Meredith

It’s hard to imagine the American political landscape without The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, but Stewart’s turn as host of the half-hour Comedy Central show almost ended as soon as it began. Stewart replaced Craig Kilborn as host of The Daily Show in 1999, but over at Third Beat Magazine, Sharilyn Johnson reports that Stewart almost quit the show due to “asshole” writers and staff.

“What I did not realize is, a lot of the people who worked there were assholes,” Stewart recalled.

“I had, before taking [the job], some conversations with the powers that be there about the direction I thought we could move the show…. I wanted it to be satirical in the classic sense of the word, not the Spy magazine sense of the word where you just add adjectives like ‘pepperpot’,” he said.

The revelation came during an interview of Stewart by his friend and long-time partner in crime on Comedy Central, Stephen Colbert.

Stewart said it took another two-plus years before he was finally able to shape The Daily Show into the show he envisioned, ultimately leading to the issues-based satirical powerhouse loved by millions.

“How close were you to saying that was it, you weren’t going to do it anymore?,” Colbert asked.

“I had to be talked down from a moderately high cliff,” Stewart said.

According to Stewart, it took about two and a half years for the “natural winnowing process” to leave him with a fully supportive staff.

Check out the full article over at Third Beat Magazine for more insights, like the time when Colbert pretended to be Al Sharpton when the real Sharpton failed to show for a scheduled interview — or Colbert’s strange sleepwalk story involving his wife of only two weeks (at the time), a tracheotomy hole, and little blue ghosts.

photo by Jason Meredith

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