A compact, good looking performer, Jon Stewart brings a puppyish charm to whatever he does, whether it be stand up, hosting a TV show or acting. The New Jersey native was deeply affected by his parents’ divorce when he was nine years old and much of his early comedy was driven by that trauma.
After attending the College of William and Mary, Jon Stewart marked time in odd jobs before moving to New York City in 1986. Dropping his birth name of Leibowitz (partly for showbiz reasons and partly to avoid embarrassing his family), he embarked on a stand up career, playing years of small dives and inching his way to the limelight. He arrived, in a manner of speaking, when he was tapped as the opening act for singer Sheena Easton in Las Vegas. Not long thereafter, Stewart caught a break when he was selected to host Comedy Central’s Short Attention Span Theater (1991-92), a compilation show of clips of comedians.
MTV soon offered him a chance to host the short lived You Wrote It, You Watch It before allowing him to host his own eponymous talk show on the network from 1993-94. His popularity with the so called Generation X ers made others take notice and Paramount signed Stewart to host a syndicated, late night interview show. When The Jon Stewart Show premiered in 1994, viewers were treated to his seductive wiles. His chemistry with his guests was often palpable and Stewart veered between ultra hipness, such as booking bands not normally seen on TV, and the esoteric, such as odd novelty acts like a seventy year old cheerleader. Unfortunately, the series failed to catch on and only lasted nine months up against Letterman and Leno.
By that point, Stewart moved to the big screen with roles in Mixed Nuts (1994) and in The First Wives Club (1996). Aligning himself with Miramax, he sold a script for The Night People and undertook supporting roles in two high profile 1998 releases, Playing By Heart/Dancing About Architecture and The Faculty.
Jon‘s renewed small screen ascendancy, which began with a recurring role on the HBO sitcom The Larry Sanders Show, was confirmed when he was chosen to replace Craig Kilborn as the host of Comedy Central’s satirical The Daily Show, beginning in 1999. As newscaster, host and interviewer in this political satire show, Stewart is able to showcase his impressive off the cuff, razor sharp humor as well as his knowledge of current events and amazing ablity to connect with both his guests and the audience. Though his style differed greatly from Kilborn’s, his trakemark charm has won him a huge fan base and an Emmy for comedy writing on the show in 2001. His popularity continues to grow as Jon Stewart once again was nominated for an Emmy in 2002.