Jon Stewart admitted he had such a hard time adjusting to his new job as host of Comedy Central’s “Daily Show” in 1999 that he almost quit shortly after taking over from Craig Kilborn.
The reason: “What I did not realize is, a lot of the people who worked there were a**holes,” he said at a talk he gave Friday night in a New York suburb. The event was a fundraiser in Montclair, N.J., for an annual film festival the community produces.
The “people” he was referring to were “Daily Show” staffers he did not name who held on to their jobs when the show transitioned from Kilborn to Stewart. According to an account of Stewart’s remarks in Montclair on The Huffington Post here, Stewart did not elaborate on how these leftover Kilborn loyalists made Stewart feel unwelcome at the show.
Our guess is: The Kilborn-ites were probably comfortable with the kind of show Kilborn was hosting, while Stewart wished the show to go in a direction that was more compatible with his own performing style. After all, he was the host, and he and Kilborn were very different personalities.
According to the HuffPo story, Stewart estimated that it took nearly two-and-a-half years for him to get fully acclimated to “The Daily Show.” The rest is history, of course, as Stewart turned “The Daily Show” into a satire of news and politics that everyone talks about. And presumably, as Stewart’s ratings rose and his power increased, he was able to eventually jettison anyone on the show’s staff who he didn’t like.
Elsewhere in his Montclair talk, Stewart identified two “Daily Show” guests who were the worst he’s ever had. One was actor Hugh Grant. The other was Yusuf Islam, who used to be known as Cat Stevens.