BLOOMBERG GAME CHANGERS profiles Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz, now Jon Stewart, from his New Jersey boyhood through the standard struggle of the stand-up comedian - part time jobs and late night gigs at New York's comedy clubs. It will shine a spotlight on his early television shows and movies, including rare video from his early career, to show his transformation into the dominant American commentator of our time.So explains comedian Jon Stewart:
Our show obviously is at a disadvantage, compared to the many other news sources, that we are competing with. For one thing, we're fake.Bill Grundfest, writer and producer, at the Comedy Cellar tells the story of Stewart's first appearance on Open Mike night. He was getting nothing, he was bombing, he was dying. But Grundfest saw that he had a point of view. He was not afraid or self conscious, and had no contempt for the audience. So what did he do with the young comic who bombed? He brought him back.
Stewart seemed to have been the whipping boy of failure in the tough, early years. Market segment, after market segment, just didn't seem to take a liking to him. But in the process, he clearly impressed influential figures, like David Letterman, and media executives like Grundfest.
I'm a tiny, neurotic man, standing in the back of the room, throwing tomatos at the chalkboard. That's really it.In certain plays, like `King Lear, Shakespeare deployed a Fool, who was smart and witty and plugged-in to what was going on. Moreover, he had license to talk frankly with the King. In `Henry IV, Part 1, it was the tavern avoirdupois Falstaff as the Fool to Prince Hal who frequented that tavern world. Stewart is that Fool, to me. He has a purpose for us, and society at large, which very few others have liberty to possess or courage to speak to.
Stewart is a cultural, a political, and evidently a business force, too. These forces converged like the gravity notions of both Newton and Einstein to finally win that coveted market following, on top of executive acclaim. He was voted fourth most admired journalist, and he's not even a journalist. Go figure. He had a knack for criticizing journalism, in the process, while appealing effectively to the journalists behind his criticism.
Fellow comedian Ricky Gervais apparently isn't on the Jon Stewart bandwagon, though:
He's not as smart as me, though. He's not really as handsome, either. And he's not as funny as me.Go figure.
Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!
Ron Villejo, PhD