His four-night weekly Comedy Central cable program The Daily Show is a essential watching among political insiders and watchers, liberals and the young. Under Stewart, The Daily Show is widely regarded as smart, fresh, current and very funny.
The Daily Show is a leading platform for top opinion-makers, from Presidents Obama and Clinton to Senators McCain and Clinton to newscasters Anderson Cooper, Brian Williams, Tom Brokaw and innumerable authors from across the political spectrum. Dozens of foreign leaders have chatted with Stewart on The Daily Show. (Read below for a list of Jon Stewart's awards and accolades.)
On December 16, 2010, Stewart devoted the entire program to poignantly supporting the 9/11 Responders Health bill which extends medical care coverage for firefighters, police officers, public safety personnel, clean-up workers to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
On October 30, 2010, Jon Stewart held a national rally, Rally to Restore Sanity, to be held on the Mall in Washington D.C., which has the potential of attracting hundreds of thousands attendees.
Who is Jon Stewart?
Born on November 28, 1962 to a Jewish family, Jon is a self-deprecating New York native who grew up in New Jersey. Because his dad was a physicist and mom a teacher, education and curiosity were valued in his childhood home. His parents divorced when he was nine. Stewart is a private man who rarely speaks publicly of his personal life.
Stewart was married in 2000 to Tracey McShane. They have a son, Nathan, born in July 2004 and a daughter, Maggie, born in February 2006. Jon is a workaholic, an insomniac, a news junkie and a former chain smoker who quit cold turkey in late 2000.
Stewart's older brother and only sibling, Larry Leibowitz, is Chief Operating Officer of the New York Stock Exchange.
Has Stewart always been funny? Always political?
His pre-comedic days held few foreshadowings of clever political wit that Stewart has become. He graduated third in his high school class, where he was voted as having the "best sense of humor."
Stewart attended College of William & Mary in Virginia, first as a chemistry, then psychology major, and earned a B.A. in 1984. Despite enjoying four years on the college soccer team, Stewart claims to have been "miserable" at the school. He joined a fraternity, but moved out in six months because he hated the hazing.
Stewart drifts into showbiz
Jon held a series of forgettable jobs after college, ranging from bureaucrat to bartender and retail shelf-stocker. What he loved most was his hobby as puppeteer to sensitize kids to people with disabilities.
In 1986, Jon Stewart moved to New York City to do standup comedy. His first gig was to a 1:45 AM comedy club crowd. He experienced "humiliation" and discouragement, but persisted for the next seven years. He wrote comedy; he did stand-up; he took movie bit parts; he did talk show comedy spots; he had his own MTV talk show for a year.
Jon Stewart's Big Break when he was a finalist to replace David Letterman when Letterman left NBC for CBS. Conan O'Brien won the coveted slot. In 1999, Stewart, though, won the host gig on the then-obscure The Daily Show on Comedy Central cable.
Jon Stewart on The Daily Show
On The Daily Show, news-junkie comedian Stewart, found his niche and his platform. Viewership of his program has grew steadily as word of mouth spread from teenage Comedy Central viewers to their parents and grandparents. From January 2004, int eh run-up to the presidential election, to present, The Daily Show ratings have grown at a pace unprecedented for cable TV.
Jon Stewart's Influence, Credibility
Jon Stewart's influence and credibility first became clear on October 15, 2004: he was a guest on CNN's partisan shout-fest program, Crossfire, when he assailed Tucker Carlson, conservative co-host, "I'm here to confront you, because we need help from the media...I watch your show everyday. And it kills me. It's so painful to watch, because we need what you do."
Weeks later, Carlson was terminated by CNN president Jonathan Klein who said, "I agree wholeheartedly with Jon Stewart's overall premise."
On October 1, 2010, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez was fired one-day after publicly calling Jon Stewart a "bigot." Sanchez and Stewart has a long-running feud in which each poked fun of the other's credibility.
Honors and accolades
The Daily Show won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.
The Daily Show won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music, Comedy program in 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2009.
Stewart has twice earned the prestigious Peabody award for excellence in radio/television broadcasting and cable television, in 2000 and 2004, for his insightful coverage of the U.S. Presidential elections.
Stewart hosted the Academy Awards in 2006 and 2008. He graced the January 4, 2004 cover of Time magazine, and was named by Time in 2005 as one of the 100 most influential Americans. Entertainment Weekly named Stewart as "Entertainer of the Year" for 2004.
What's next for Jon Stewart?
It's not publicly known what Jon Stewart's next professional stop will be. Many believe he will ascend to David Letterman's late-night CBS throne when Letterman decides to retire.
He obviously enjoys the creative freedom of cable broadcasting, though. The Daily Show is lightly peppered with language and images not accepable at the networks. And the Comedy Central show has evolved into a unique extension of Stewart, a bright, witty, news-obsessed comedian.