On this day in 1962, Jon Stewart, the host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, a “fake news” program that satirizes politicians, celebrities and the media, among others, is born in New York City. Stewart’s irreverent take on national and world events has been a huge hit with audiences and has even led some viewers to cite The Daily Show as their primary source of news.
Raised in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz attended the College of William and Mary and after graduation began performing stand-up comedy at clubs in New York City. In 1991, he became host of Short Attention Span Theater on Comedy Central, which was followed in 1992 by You Wrote It, You Watch It on MTV. In 1993, he hosted a half-hour program, The Jon Stewart Show, also on MTV. A late-night, nationally syndicated version of the program launched the following year but was cancelled in 1995.
In January 1999, Stewart took over hosting duties of The Daily Show from Craig Kilborn, who had hosted the show since its 1996 debut on Comedy Central and left to replace Tom Snyder as host of The Late Late Show. With Stewart in the anchor seat, The Daily Show typically opens with a monologue about the day’s news stories, followed by a satirical report from one of the program’s “fake news” correspondents. (Previous correspondents have included Steve Carrell, who was a Daily Show regular from 1999 to 2004 and went on to star in such movies as The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Little Miss Sunshine and Get Smart and the NBC sitcom The Office. Another Daily Show correspondent, Stephen Colbert, left the program in 2005 to launch his own spin-off, The Colbert Report.) During the final segment of the half-hour Daily Show, Stewart conducts interviews with politicians, authors, Hollywood celebrities or other newsmakers. The Daily Show has won multiple Emmy Awards, and in 2004 Stewart and his writing staff released a best-selling mock-history textbook titled America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction.
In addition to hosting The Daily Show, Stewart served as master of ceremonies for Hollywood’s biggest annual event, the Academy Awards, in 2006 and 2008. His own movie career, which includes appearances in Playing by Heart (1998), The Faculty (1998) and Big Daddy (1999), has yet to win him any Oscars. On The Daily Show, Stewart has mocked his roles in such box-office bombs as 2001’s Death to Smoochy.