We are aware that the biography
is a bit out of date. So enjoy the, er, historical biography.
Date of Birth:
November 28, 1962
New York, NY
New Jersey (near Trenton)
Downtown Manhattan, New York, New York
Name at Birth:
Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz. Note: Most sources incorrectly list Jon's
middle name as Stewart. We have confirmed that Stuart is the correct
Filed petition for legal name change to Jon Stewart on June 19, 2001.
Cited several reasons for making the change. Pick which one you believe:
- To protect loved
ones from embarrassment (they signed a petition)
- Too many syllables
- Too Hollywood
- Too mispronounceable
- Slight leftover
- Donald Leibowitz, Physicist
- Marian Leibowitz, Educational Consultant (former elementary special education
- Tracey Lynn Stewart (formerly Tracey McShane)
- Publicly announced engagement on June 1999.
- Married since approximately November 1999.
- Cat: Stan
- Dogs: Shamsky & Monkey (both pitbulls)
- Variety of aquatic animals at any given time
- Larry Leibowitz, older brother
- Two younger half-brothers (on father's side) [TV Guide (large edition)
12/11/99 "The Cat in the - Hats," by David Handelman]
None, but "working on" it [San Francisco Chronicle, 4/23/02, "Comic Release
'Daily Show' Host Jon Stewart is TV's King of Irony," by Jane Ganahl]
Jon Stewart lived with his
parents and his older brother, Larry, until their parents divorced in 1971.
After that, he and Larry lived with their mother. According to friends, the
divorce was difficult on Jon, who has alluded to tension with his father in
his comedy act more than once. His mother downplays the family difficulties,
pointing out that jokes are just that. Jon himself has said "I made up s**t
for the [Jon Stewart] show, about my family ..." [Axcess, Vol. III, Number 3
(1995) "Jon Stewart: New York Stories," by Michelle Farrar]. There may be some
truth to the comedy though, as Jon recently said that his father has never seen
him perform. [The New Yorker, 2/11/2002, "Is It Funny Yet?" by Tad Friend].
When he was 17, Jon left
home for college (see Education). After graduation, he came
back to New Jersey but did not live with family members. He had a variety of
roommates in New Jersey and in New York after college, including at least one
live-in girlfriend. It was while living with her that he had the two cats he
frequently mentions in his standup act. Sydney (Sidney?) was the female cat
who he describes going into heat, while Stan was the male who left the house
to get neutered. When Jon and his girlfriend broke up, they decided the cats
should stay together, and Jon kept them both. Sydney (Sidney?) is presumed deceased.
In 1996, while filming Wishful
Thinking, a production assistant (P.A.) on the set approached Jon and told
him that her roommate, Tracey, was perfect for him and that he should call her.
Jon said that the production assistant described the woman in such glowing terms
that he decided to call. Unfortunately, by the time he went to call her, he
had lost her number. Eventually, he realized that he had the P.A.'s number on
the Wishful Thinking contact sheet, and he called Tracey for a date.
Finally, the two went out.
At first, the blind date did not go well. Looking back on the date, Jon said
that when he is nervous, he talks a lot. He also said that when Tracey is nervous,
she gets very quiet. The date was very one-sided at first, until they had a
few drinks and relaxed.
The two continued to date
and eventually moved in together. On an episode of ABC's The View, which
aired on June 30, 1999, Jon Stewart publicly announced his engagement to Tracey.
He described his unusual proposal method. Jon commissioned a professional crossword
puzzle maker to make a personalized puzzle for Tracey. In it, he proposed to
her. It is not clear
exactly when Jon and Tracey married, but on the April 23, 2002 episode of The
Daily Show, Jon mentioned that they had been married "almost 18 months."
Tracey used to be a graphic
designer but went back to school to become a veterinarian shortly after Jon
took over hosting The Daily Show. She previously worked at the Bronx
Zoo and currently works at a veterinary clinic.
Jon and Tracey are both
animal lovers, and Jon jokes that Tracey brings home the vet's mistakes. They
currently have two pit bulls and a cat. Shamsky is an agoraphobic pit bull who
lived in a small cage before he was rescued by the Stewarts. She was named after
the only Jewish member of the 1969 "Miracle Mets." Monkey, the other pit bull,
is named after his propensity to throw his own feces. The origin of the name
of their cat, Stan, is unknown.
- Yeshiva Kindergarten
- Public schools thereafter
- Graduated from Lawrence
High School in 1980.
Graduated third in his class and "barely studied" according to his best friend
[US Magazine 2/99 "Heeeere's Jonny!" by Chris Smith]
- Attended College
of William and Mary in Virginia
- Originally majored in Chemistry
- Changed majors after two years to Psychology
- Played on the soccer team (wing)
- Was briefly a member of a fraternity. Quit after six months, in part because
he did not agree with the hazing. [San Francisco Chronicle, 4/23/02, "Comic
Release 'Daily Show' Host Jon Stewart is King of Irony," by Jane Ganahl]
- About William and Mary, says, "I was miserable there." [San Diego Union-Tribune,
1/31/94, "Watch Out, Conan; Heeeeeeeere's Jon!" by Phil Rosenthal]
- Graduated in 1984 with a B.A. in Psychology
- After graduation, required surgery to repair a hernia and knee due to injuries
sustained playing soccer for William and Mary. [TV Guide (large edition) 12/11/99,
"The Cat in the Hats," by David Handelman.
WORK HISTORY (BEFORE
HE MADE IT BIG)
Jon Stewart's success didn't
happen overnight. He claims to have been fired from six stores in one mall alone.
Here is a list of the wide variety of jobs he held prior to "making it big".
From age 9-11, played trumpet in a kids' swing band called "The Lawrence Stage
Band." The group once played on The Captain Noah Children's Hour. Believed
to be Jon's first television appearance.
at Woolworth's. (He was fired for diving into a beanbag chair that crashed into
a group of aquariums and caused approximately $10,000 worth of damage. To add
to his humiliation, the Assistant Manager who fired him was his brother, Larry).
(fired for forgetting to rinse soap out of bread barrels, resulting in several
in southern NJ grade schools doing shows to sensitize children to people with
"Number Cruncher" for the NJ Department of Health
Live Mosquito Sorter for the NJ Department of Health
Cancer Research Lab Worker
COMEDY: THE EARLY
Jon Stewart moved to New
York City in order to do standup comedy in 1986, but didn't actually get on
stage until April 1987. His first gig was at The Bitter End in New York. He
had four minutes prepared, but got through only two minutes of it. After what
he described as "the humiliation" of his first performance, it was another four
months before he took the stage again. Even though he bombed on his first attempt,
he said it was clear from then on what he wanted to do with his life.
His first regular gig was
at the Comedy Cellar, where he was the last performer of the night on Sundays
through Thursdays. He went on around 1:45 a.m. to a crowd that sometimes included
only the club staff. It was great training, but he has said he almost quit every
night for the first two years he performed.
Eventually, Jon was doing
more high-profile gigs like opening for singer Sheena Easton in Las Vegas, and
he became rather well known in the comedy circuit.
JON HITS THE SMALL
Jon continued to do standup
and later did some non-credited writing for television. He wrote sketches for
Caroline's Comedy Hour and some children's shows [The Onion AV Club by
Stephen Thompson]. He was eventually selected as the host for the Comedy Channel's
(now called Comedy Central) Short Attention Span Theatre.
After Short Attention
Span Theatre was canceled, Jon continued doing standup. Eventually, he moved
to MTV and hosted You Wrote It, You Watch It. He wrote his own segments
for that show, which lasted only 13 weeks. After it was canceled, he pitched
the idea of a talk show to MTV, which became The Jon Stewart Show.
The Jon Stewart Show
was a 30-minute talk show, MTV style, which first aired on October 25, 1993.
It was critically acclaimed, but didn't do well in the ratings. In September
1994, the show was bought by Paramount and went into syndication. There were
some changes in the show, the most obvious of which was that it moved from 30
minutes to 60 minutes. The show lasted about nine months in syndication until
it was canceled on June 23, 1995.
JON HITS THE LARGE
After the cancellation of
The Jon Stewart Show, Jon signed a three-year, six-movie deal with Miramax.
He was to star in two movies per year and write and produce some of them. Some
of the films included:
Playing by Heart
Although some of the films
did not get made, the deal was considered fulfilled. (See filmography
for more details.) This
same year, Jon signed a deal with David Letterman's production company Worldwide
Pants. It doesn't appear that anything ever came of that deal.
JON THE AUTHOR
While he was working on
the Miramax films, Jon was writing his book Naked Pictures of Famous People.
It took him eight months to write the series of humorous essays in the style
of Woody Allen or Steve Martin. Jon described many nights of writing until four
in the morning. Of everything he's done professionally, Jon says it's his book
he's most satisfied with.
ALWAYS A GUEST
HOST, NEVER A HOST
Jon Stewart was a frequent
guest host for Tom Snyder on The Late, Late Show with Tom Snyder -- so
frequently that it was rumored that he would get Snyder's spot on CBS after
Snyder's retirement. It didn't happen. Instead, Jon went on to play himself
playing Larry Sander's permanent guest host on The Larry Sanders Show.
When Gary Shandling, who played Larry Sanders, was set to leave the show, it
was hotly rumored that Jon would take over the show for real. Jon insists that
was never a real possibility, though. "That was a little something called fiction."
[Entertainment Weekly, 1/8/99, "Jonny on the Spot," by A.J. Jacobs].
Jon was also a finalist
to replace David Letterman when Letterman left NBC for CBS. Instead, the slot
went to Conan O'Brien.
FINALLY, A PLACE
On January 4, 1999, Jon
Stewart moved into his office at The Daily Show, where he had just seven
days to prepare for his first show as host and co-executive producer of The
Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
As a self-professed news
junkie, the show seems a perfect match for Jon's talents. When he had been with
The Daily Show for two and a half years, he said it was the longest he'd
ever held a job. He has a four-year contract that will expire in January 2003.
Recently, it has been rumored
that various networks are interested in signing him as a talk show host. Although
the $1.5 million he allegedly earns annually is much less than he might earn
at one of the major networks, there are certain advantages he has working at
Comedy Central. He works four days per week with one week off per month. He
also has more creative freedom than he might at a major network, which is something
he has previously cited as being very important to him. Whatever he chooses
to do when his contract is up, he is clearly in demand.
AWARDS AND ACCOLADES
"Best Sense of
Humor," Lawrence High School Yearbook, 1980
One of "Hot New
Artists of the '90's," New York Post
One of "People
Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People", 1999
2000 George Foster
Peabody Award for "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Indecision 2000"
Talk Show Host," Time Magazine, July 9, 2001
for "Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series," as Co-Executive Producer
of "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart"
Emmy for "Outstanding
Writing in a Variety, Music or Comedy Series," as one of the writers of "The
Daily Show with Jon Stewart
on Show," by female staff members of celebrity edition of "Who Wants to be a
Former chain smoker (quit
cold turkey on 12/28/2000)
Used to use pot
Modest (a recent Google search
revealed 198 web pages containing both the terms "Jon Stewart" and "self-deprecating")
Hates Los Angeles
Loves video games
1st Standup Joke:
What do they call lunch hour in the diamond district when all the Hasidim are
causing a traffic jam in the streets? Yidlock.
Boy" while working at The Jon Stewart Show due to his propensity for
catching colds and sinus infections.
Took all the mirrors
down from his office at The Daily Show immediately after taking over
for Craig Kilborn.
a gumball machine in his office. Chews gum as "cigarette substitute."
Team: NY Knicks
NY Mets (also frequently photographed wearing a Giants cap)
Mint Chocolate Chip
Late updated May 1, 2002
Contact Dani at firstname.lastname@example.org.