Jon Stewart

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"My life [is] a series of Hollywood orgies and Kabbalah center brunches with the cast of Friends. At least that's what my handlers tell me."

Jon Stewart born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz 28 November, 1962) is an American actor and comedian. He was also the host of the Emmy-award winning program, The Daily Show, author of Naked Pictures of Famous People and co-author of the New York Times bestseller America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction.

See also The Daily Show


  • Little and hairy. But if [The New York Post] want to go with smart and stylish then hey, more power to them. Good luck.
  • I've always run by the hierarchy of "If not funny, interesting. If not interesting, hot. If not hot, bizarre. If not bizarre, break something."
  • I signed up for what? I thought I was just ordering cable.
    • Chicago Tribune, August 12, 1998; on signing on as host of The Daily Show.
  • The best-laid plans of mice and comedians usually wind up on the cutting-room floor.
    • Charleston Gazette interview, January 9, 1999
  • You wake up and you're still a little drunk and you can't believe that hot girl from last night actually has a beard and a penis.
  • You just have to keep trying to do good work, and hope that it leads to more good work. I want to look back on my career and be proud of the work, and be proud that I tried everything. Yes, I want to look back and know that I was terrible at a variety of things.
    • Orange County Register, July 9, 1999
I've seen otters—they look better covered in oil.
  • That whole thing has been overstated by environmentalists. First of all, what is it, rocks and snow? C'mon, what is that, you want that? Go to Canada my friend. Believe me, rocks and snow are overrated. I've seen otters—they look better covered in oil.
    • Nightline, 2001. On governments plans to drill in Alaska.
  • I don't know what all the controversy is about, quite frankly. I've met Eminem, I met him backstage, and he's really gay.
    • Grammy Awards, February 21, 2001
  • If you look on their lawn, there are... it looks like a tent city of reporters. I don't know what insight they think they're going to glean from these people's grief, but if there's ever a situation where someone who's just lost their daughter has anything to say other than "this sucks," I'd be happy to see a news crew on their lawn, but until then, why are these people there?
  • This show is our own personal beliefs.
    • Paley Center interview, in response to an audience question, "How do you keep your own personal beliefs from showing up in the show?"
  • Howard Kurtz: CNN has is broadcasting your show internationally.
    Jon Stewart: I am not.
    Kurtz: Does that make you legitimate?
    Stewart: No, I am illegitimate. I am the bastard son of anything. We're not— we're fake.
  • Kurtz: So you don't, you're not confusing yourself with a quote, "real journalist"?
    Stewart: No. You guys are—
    Kurtz: You're just making fun—
    Stewart: You guys are confusing yourselves with real journalists.
  • If done for the right reasons, liberating a country from a despot, I don't see how that's immoral. Ah, done quickly, and then we all leave, yeah that's kind of... I mean, it's so much obviously more complicated than that. They're literally, if he doesn't allow inspections, we're bombing him — I'll allow inspections. If he doesn't allow them... on Tuesday — I'll allow them on Tuesday. If he doesn't serve fondue — alright, I'll serve fondue. I mean, they're gonna do anything, it's clear they cast their die, I mean, as hard as it is for Dick Cheney to get an erection, he's not gonna let this opportunity go by.
    • Harvard University, December 13, 2002, in response to a question about the prospect of war in Iraq, should Saddam Hussein continue to dodge weapons inspections.
The pursuit of being a judge, an arbiter, and earning the trust of the audience over time as an oversight to the shenanigans of the political world.
  • Here is what I believe is the paradigm that would be effective and what I would love to see, and you're going to laugh because Fox News is my model. What Fox has done is they've got a guy, Roger Ailes, who's passionate and has created a model for a 24-hour news station that makes money based on a point of view... Using Fox's model, find someone with the passion and the huevos to just lay it on the line — not in a partisan way, not in the pursuit of political power and political gain, but in the pursuit of credibility. In the pursuit of being a judge, an arbiter, and earning the trust of the audience over time as an oversight to the shenanigans of the political world.
  • If I was to really get at the burr in my saddle, it's not politics — and this is, I think, probably a horrible analogy — but I look at politicians as, they are doing what inherently they need to do to retain power. Their job is to consolidate power. When you go to the zoo and you see a monkey throwing poop, you go, "that's what monkeys do, what are you gonna do?" But what I wish the media would do more frequently is say "bad monkey."
    • Charlie Rose interview, September 29, 2004
  • It's a brilliant metaphor. What I meant to say was, when you see a monkey masturbating at the zoo...
    • C-SPAN interview, October 14, 2004, when asked about the above quote.
  • [Robert Novak] apparently, they say, broke his hip. I think it's not the case. I believe his hip tried to escape.
    • C-SPAN interview, October 14, 2004
  • How did Memogate get a "gate"? How did Nipplegate get a "gate"? We invaded a country with the wrong information, and Janet Jackson's tit got a "gate". Who gives out the "gates"? Is there a "Gate"-gate? Is there a, a... I mean, it's absolute... We're living in insanity!
    • C-SPAN interview, October 14, 2004
  • Everybody wrings their hands about Fox News. You know, "fair and balanced? Why, that's snide!" Yeah, okay, maybe they're not fair and balanced, but CNN used to have the slogan "You Can Depend on CNN". Guess what? I watch it, no you can't. So what's the difference?
    • C-SPAN interview, October 14, 2004
  • The Internet is just a world passing around notes in a classroom. That's all it is. All those media companies say, "We're going to make a killing here." You won't because it's still only as good as the content.
  • The American people. For their just utter patience.
    • On Larry King Live, in response to the question "Who in this administration fascinates you the most?" February 26, 2006
  • Did you really just ask me if I want it to be bad? I have kids! What do you think? "Yeah, I don't want them to have any kind of a -- I want things to corrode to the point where we're all living in huts." [...] [I] "like things to go a little wrong" like birdshot to the face of a guy that would survive, not "like things to go wrong" till it's like Mad Max, every-man-for-himself-let's-all-ride-around-and-machine-guns, which seems to be the way that it's [going].
    • Responding to King's suggestion that as a political comedian Stewart would "want things to be bad" because that would provide him with the most fodder for jokes
  • Are you insane?!
    • Responding to King's example, "So, you wouldn't want Medicare to fail?"
  • Everybody thought Barack Obama was going to [inspire people] when he came to Washington, but, you know, the Senate seems like the place where smart people go to die.
President Bush has uranium-tipped bunker busters and I have puns. I think he'll be OK.
  • Here's the way I look at it. President Bush has uranium-tipped bunker busters and I have puns. I think he'll be OK.
  • We are not warriors in anyone's army. And that is not trying to be self-deprecating. I'm proud of what we do. I really like these two shows. I like making 'em. I like watching them. I'm really proud of them. But I understand their place. I don't view us as people who lead social movements.
I have complete faith in the continued absurdity of whatever’s going on.
  • The best part is that I'm able to come in, and whenever I want, choose an intern... oh, wait — Is this being recorded? No, the coolest part is the ability to have a silly thought about whatever is going on in your world at 10 o'clock in the morning, and be able to see it go out on the airwaves at 11 o'clock that night. That's an amazing privilege.
    • Philadelphia Inquirer interview, April 22, 2007
  • The reason I don't worry about society is, nineteen people knocked down two buildings and killed thousands. Hundreds of people ran into those buildings to save them. I'll take those odds every fucking day.
  • Fatherhood is great because you can ruin someone from scratch.
    • "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," January 29, 2009
Unfortunately, the messiness of democracy is often maybe one of its greatest weak points. People generally want prosperity and security.
If a democratic system is having difficulty providing that or if it's being subverted by those who want to create chaos so that they can make a more authoritarian government, that's part of it, too.
If we have identified the pressure points where the guardrails look most vulnerable, that's where we should be focusing so much of our efforts in terms of strengthening. … The encouraging thing is watching on a grassroots level, people that are really viewing it as something that they want to protect and that they want to strengthen.
  • Comedian Jon Stewart says political commentators are “making a mistake” focusing on former President Donald Trump’s individual contributions to eroding democracy, arguing instead that America’s institutions are vulnerable to “the idea that power is its own reward.”
    “I don’t know if autocracy is purely the domain of Donald Trump,” the former "Daily Show" host said in an interview aired Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Unfortunately, the messiness of democracy is often maybe one of its greatest weak points. People generally want prosperity and security."
    "If a democratic system is having difficulty providing that or if it's being subverted by those who want to create chaos so that they can make a more authoritarian government, that's part of it, too,” he added.
    “If we have identified the pressure points where the guardrails look most vulnerable, that's where we should be focusing so much of our efforts in terms of strengthening. … The encouraging thing is watching on a grassroots level, people that are really viewing it as something that they want to protect and that they want to strengthen,” Stewart said.
  • “Again, he is not singing new songs. … He is maybe singing them better than [the late Sen. Barry] Goldwater," Stewart said. "But I think it's a mistake to focus it all on this one individual and not to focus it more on the idea that power is its own reward, whether it be in the financial industry or in government. Power doesn’t ever cede itself.”
    “We learned a lot of this in recent decades, but especially maybe the last four or five years because Donald Trump was so disruptive and so willing to challenge norms, we have learned that a lot of the American system is built on the honor system," Stewart said. "That only works, of course, if you care about or even have a sense of honor.”
I always thought I could stop any time I wanted.
  • Nazi Germany was so destructive to Judaism not only for the loss of life, but because many who survived began to see the practice of Judaism as somewhat of a health hazard.
  • Orthodox Jews, or, as they are known in the Talmud, the Really Chosen Ones, are committed to the idea that the entire Torah was dictated by God verbatim to Moses at Mount Sinai ... Other forms of Judaism dispute this claim, although it does explain certain passages in the first Torah, such as, "I'm sorry, am I boring you?" and "What do you like better, Moses, Lord Almighty or Big Hoohah?"
  • Reform Jews are the children of Conservative Jews, or as they are sometimes known, Christians with curlier hair.
  • Hitler: (biting into a bagel) First of all, Larry, I don't know what I was so afraid of. These are delicious!!!
  • Hitler: Look, I was a bad guy. No question. I hate that Hitler. The yelling, the finger-pointing, I don't know... I was a very angry guy.
    King: And this... new Hitler?
    Hitler: I get up at seven, have half a melon, do the Jumble in the morning paper and then let the day take me where it will. Some days I'll fish, maybe hit the mall for an Orange Julius. The other day I spent seven hours in the park watching ants cart off part of a sandwich. Me!! The inventor of the Blitzkrieg... When you stop having to control everything, it's very freeing.
  • Hitler: Denial is a powerful thing... I always thought I could stop any time I wanted. "If I could just get Czechoslovakia, that'll be the end of it. I'll be happy then." And then I'd get it and think, well geez, Poland's just up the road a piece and... you know the rest.
  • Hitler: I'm not going to lie to you, it took a while. There were moments all along where I knew something was wrong. I remember one time... I think it was in Munich. We were having a rally. 100,000 people all chanting my name. The bonfires were going. The whole shebang. It should have been a crowning moment, but I clearly remember thinking, What am I doing here? I hate crowds.

The Daily Show (1999-2015, 2024)

  • [mobster impression] Hey! Nice nominee you got there. [sniff, tightens tie] Be a shame if something happened to him, Mr. President. Know what I mean?
  • Maybe a more nuanced alert system could allow for more productive intervention beyond “You have ten seconds to disperse”. Or we can agree to keep ignoring the roots of how systemically, historically disenfranchised many African American communities still are, only paying attention to them when we fear their periodic, fiery ball of anger threatens to enter our airspace, and once again breathing a blissful sigh of forgetful relief when it’s another near miss.
  • What blows my mind is the disparity of response between when we think people that are foreign are going to kill us and us killing ourselves. If this had been what we thought was Islamic terrorism, it would fit into our… We invaded two countries, and spent trillions of dollars and thousand of American lives and now fly unmanned death machines over, like, five or six different countries, all to keep Americans safe. We got to do whatever we can, we’ll torture people. We got to do whatever we can to keep Americans safe. Nine people, shot in a church, what about that? “Hey what are you gonna do? Crazy is crazy, right?” That’s the part that I cannot for the life of me wrap my head around.
  • I heard someone on the news say, well, "tragedy has visited this church”. This wasn’t a tornado. This was a racist. This was a guy with a Rhodesia badge on his sweater. You know, I hate to even use this pun, but this one is black and white. There’s no nuance here. And we’re gonna keep pretending like “I don’t get it, what happened, there’s one guy who lost his mind”, but we are steeped in that culture in this country and we refuse to recognize it.
  • The Confederate flag flies over South Carolina, and the roads are named for Confederate generals, and the white guy is the one who feels like his country is being taken away from him. We’re bringing it on ourselves. And that’s the thing, Al-Qaeda, all those guys, ISIS, they’re not shit compared to the damage that we can apparently do to ourselves on a regular basis.
  • I've learned one thing over these last nine years, and I was glib at best and probably dismissive at worst about this -- the work of making this world resemble one that you would prefer to live in is a lunch pail fucking job, day in and day out, where thousands of committed, anonymous, smart, and dedicated people bang on closed doors and pick up those that are fallen and grind away on issues 'til they get a positive result, and even then, have to stay on to make sure that result holds. So the good news is, I'm not saying you don't have worry about who wins the election. I'm saying you have to worry about every day before it, and every day after it, forever.

College of William & Mary Commencement Address (2004)

College of William & Mary (May 20, 2004)
Somewhere between the gold rush of easy internet profits and an arrogant sense of endless empire, we heard kind of a pinging noise, and uh, then the damn thing just died on us.
Love what you do. Get good at it. Competence is a rare commodity in this day and age. And let the chips fall where they may.
  • My life [is] a series of Hollywood orgies and Kabbalah center brunches with the cast of Friends. At least that's what my handlers tell me. I’m actually too valuable to live my own life and spend most of my days in a vegetable crisper to remain fake news anchor fresh.
  • We declared war on terror—it's not even a noun, so, good luck. After we defeat it, I'm sure we'll take on that bastard ennui.
  • Love what you do. Get good at it. Competence is a rare commodity in this day and age. And let the chips fall where they may.
  • Let's talk about the real world for a moment. We had been discussing it earlier, and I… I wanted to bring this up to you earlier about the real world, and this is I guess as good a time as any. I don’t really know to put this, so I’ll be blunt. We broke it. Please don’t be mad. I know we were supposed to bequeath to the next generation a world better than the one we were handed. So, sorry.
    I don’t know if you’ve been following the news lately, but it just kinda got away from us. Somewhere between the gold rush of easy internet profits and an arrogant sense of endless empire, we heard kind of a pinging noise, and uh, then the damn thing just died on us. So I apologize.
  • I have not found this generation to be cynical or apathetic or selfish. They are as strong and as decent as any people that I have met. And I will say this, on my way down here I stopped at Bethesda Naval, and when you talk to the young kids that are there that have just been back from Iraq and Afghanistan, you don’t have the worry about the future that you hear from so many that are not a part of this generation but judging it from above.
  • And the other thing… that I will say is, when I spoke earlier about the world being broke, I was somewhat being facetious, because every generation has their challenge. And things change rapidly, and life gets better in an instant.

(Co-written with Ben Karlin, David Javerbaum and the writers of The Daily Show)

To the huddled masses, keep yearnin'!
  • Dedication: To the huddled masses, keep yearnin'!
A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy. It serves to inform the voting public on matters relevant to its well-being.
Why they've stopped doing that is a mystery.
  • 1300 BC: God gives Ten Commandments to Israelites, making them His Chosen People and granting them eternal protection under Divine Law. Nothing bad ever happens to Jews again.
  • May 3, 325: Rome built.
  • 30 AD: Death penalty debate heats up after controversial execution of alleged "Son of God".
  • Through most of colonial history, inhabitants of the 13 colonies were loyal subjects of the British crown — resourceful, dedicated and as the Third Duchess of Kent... was fond of saying, "Some tea-drinkin' motherfuckahs." In fact, whenever the subject of the New World was mentioned, the Duchess could always be counted on for a wistful head-shake and a hearty "Motherfuckahs love that motherfuckin' tea."
  • But on what basis should the three branches of government be divided? It came down to two dueling ideas: Madison's proposal of an executive, judicial and legislative branch, and Georgia's Joseph Morton's proposal to dole out power according to, "The presence, forbearance, rectictude and largeosity of one's 'Plums and Carrot'." After much deliberation, it was decided Madison's proposal would be accepted, Morton only relenting after the Constitutional Convention agreed to proclaim him "impressive."
  • By far the most revolutionary aspect of this new position [of the presidency] would be who could hold it. The short answer: just about anyone. By placing no explicit race, gender, or religious requirements on the presidency, the Founders opened the door to a true meritocracy. Why no women, blacks, or non-Christians have answered the founders' challenge is a mystery, though most indications point to some inherent genetic flaw. (William Howard Taft came closest, having what most observers agreed were boobs.)
  • If the presidency is the head of the American body politic, Congress is its gastrointestinal tract. Its vast and convoluted inner workings may be mysterious and unpleasant, but in the end they excrete a great deal of material whose successful passage is crucial to our nation's survival.
  • A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy. It serves to inform the voting public on matters relevant to its well-being. Why they've stopped doing that is a mystery. I mean, 300 camera crews outside a courthouse to see what Kobe Bryant is wearing when the judge sets his hearing date, while false information used to send our country to war goes unchecked? What the fuck happened?

Crossfire Appearance (2004)

Jon Stewart appeared on Crossfire on October 15, 2004 with hosts Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson. CNN's rush transcript of Stewart's appearance from CNN's official website.
Video of Jon Stewart's appearance on Crossfire provided by IFILM (requires Macromedia Flash).
The absurdity of the system provides us the most material. And that is best served by sort of the theater of it all—which, by the way, thank you both.
  • Jon Stewart: And I made a special effort to come on the show today, because I have privately, amongst my friends and also in occasional newspapers and television shows, mentioned this show as being bad.
    Paul Begala: We have noticed.
    Stewart: And I wanted to—I felt that that wasn't fair, and I should come here and tell you that I don't—it's not so much that it's bad, as it's hurting America.
    Tucker Carlson: But in its defense—
    Stewart: But I wanted to come here today and say—here's just what I wanted to tell you guys.
    Carlson: Yes.
    Stewart: Stop. Stop, stop, stop. Stop hurting America.
  • Stewart: You have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.
    Carlson: You need to get a job at a journalism school, I think.
    Stewart: You need to go to one. [...]
    Carlson: Wait. I thought you were going to be funny. Come on. Be funny.
    Stewart: No. No. I'm not going to be your monkey.
  • Stewart: [To Tucker Carlson] How old are you?
    Carlson: Thirty-five.
    Stewart: And you wear a bow tie. ... So this is theater. ... Now, listen, I'm not suggesting that you're not a smart guy, because those are not easy to tie. ... But the thing is that this—you're doing theater, when you should be doing debate, which would be great. ... It's not honest. What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery.
  • Carlson: You had John Kerry on your show, and you sniff his throne, and you're accusing us of partisan hackery?
    Stewart: Absolutely.
    Carlson: You've got to be kidding me. He comes on, and you—
    Stewart: You're on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls. What is wrong with you?
    • Crossfire, CNN, 15 October 2004 
    • After being accused by Carlson of not having asked John Kerry hard-hitting enough questions during an interview on The Daily Show.
  • We look at—the absurdity of the system provides us the most material. And that is best served by sort of the theater of it all, you know, which, by the way, thank you both, because it's been helpful.
    • In response to Paul Begala's question of which 2004 presidential candidate would provide the best comedic material if elected.
  • You know what's interesting, though? You're as big a dick on your show as you are on any show.
    • To Tucker Carlson after Carlson accused Stewart of not being as funny as he appeared on The Daily Show.
  • They said I wasn't being funny. And I said to them, "I know that, but tomorrow I will go back to being funny, and your show will still blow."

Stand-up performance at RIT (2005)

You know, I'm straight, but you've made such a convincing argument...
  • What you do for Jewish New Year is you go down to Times Square... It's a lot quieter than the regular New Year. It's just a few Jews walking around going, "'sup?"
  • It upset me that, five days after the hurricane hit down in New Orleans, the President's plan was for a day of prayer. I would have thought a truck of food. A day of prayer. Now, maybe I'm mistaken here and, again, I'm not a scientific expert, but isn't a hurricane officially an act of God? Isn't a day of prayer kind of redundant? Hasn't God already made up his mind on that sort of thing? So we do a day of prayer. The President has his stupid day of prayer. Three days later, Hurricane Rita hits. Somebody must have said something... something like, "is that all you got?"
  • Here's how bizarre the war is that we're in in Iraq, and we should have known this right from the get-go: When we first went into Iraq, Germany didn't want to go. Germany. The Michael Jordan of war took a pass.
  • You can always tell when Bush is in trouble. He always brings out 9/11. 9/11 is the cudgel that he waves. As far as he's concerned, it's "Open Sesame". 9/11 is his way of saying, "Okay, I'm fucking up now, but remember four years ago? That was cool." I think he thinks he can use it for anything. "9/11. On 9/11 we were attacked. And so, I should get to bang your wife." What? "Now, there are some nay-sayers out there who think I shouldn't bang your wife, well, that's the cut-and-run crowd."
  • What is the fear of the "gay agenda" that has so upset people? Do people think that if gay people are given a place at the table, they'll be so convincing we'll all end up blowing them? What is the issue? "You know, I'm straight, but you've made such a convincing argument..."

The 78th Academy Awards (2006)


Stewart hosted the Academy Awards on March 5, 2006.
"Overheard During the 78th Annual Oscars", AP (via Yahoo! News). Found to be inactive on 2009-04-06.

  • I do have some sad news to report. Björk couldn't be here tonight. She was trying on her Oscar dress and Dick Cheney shot her.
  • Good evening everybody, ladies, gentlemen... Felicity.
  • I really thought that the make-up artist for Cinderella Man should have won. I mean, it's so hard to make Russell Crowe look like he got in a fight.
  • If there's anyone out there involved in illegal movie piracy... don't do it. Take a good look at these people. These are the people you're stealing from. Look at them! Face what you've done! There are women here who can barely afford enough gown to cover their breasts.
  • Tonight is the night we celebrate excellence in film, with me, the fourth male lead from Death to Smoochy. Rent it.
  • For those of you who are keeping score at home, I just want to make something very clear: Martin Scorsese, zero Oscars. Three 6 Mafia, one.
  • [with Stephen Colbert, after presenting the award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series to Ricky Gervais and being informed that Gervais was not there] Ricky Gervais couldn't be here tonight, so instead we're going to give this to our friend Steve Carell.
    • Carell, who was among the nominees who had just lost to Gervais, then ran onto the stage, where the three of them group-hugged and jumped around screaming.

Hartford Advocate Interview (2008)


Bulger, Adam (2008-06-12). No News is Good News. The Hartford Advocate. Retrieved on 2009-04-12.

Watching those creatures writhe will always be interesting.
Theater doesn't make for authentic public discourse.
  • As a comedian, as a person, as a citizen, as a mammal—in all of those areas, I am looking forward to the end of the Bush administration with every fiber of my being.
  • I am sick of deconstructing their propaganda, because it's pretty much the same as it's always been. It's just repeating something over and over again until we believe it and we hope that you believe it.
  • If someone was to introduce hope and idealism into our political system, I think the tension that would create in other areas would certainly be ripe. You would think that if you bring oxygen to the organism, the organism lives. But there may be other organisms in there that thrive in darkness and in a more anaerobic environment. Watching those creatures writhe will always be interesting.
    • On whether satire would be difficult under an Obama administration
  • I think the metric by which television is considered liberal is literally based on the metric of liberalism in each person's soul. Peoples' senses of humor tend to go about as far as their ideology.
    • On whether The Daily Show is liberal.
  • I reject the idea there are just two sides. I think that with the amount of ideas and thoughts there are, it's not even going to be consistent with the same person. People can hold liberal and conservative dogma points at the same time. They're not living their lives via platforms. They're living their lives. The whole thing is an awfully tired construct.
  • People would like to place a standard on our show that doesn't exist. We're not set up for reporting; we don't have an apparatus for that. We're discussing things that hopefully people might get something out of, but it's wildly inconsistent. Just because we hit on points that resonate, or people think are real complaints—that doesn't make us journalists.
  • Stewart: The real issue is that TV news can either bring clarity or noise. And it tends to not seem to know the difference between them. … We do a show that doesn't try to bring noise. I think that we have a more consistent point of view than most news shows, I'll say that.
    Bulger: What's that point of view?
    Stewart: That theater doesn't make for authentic public discourse.

The Bill O'Reilly Factor Appearance (2010)

  • "If Obama's a tyrant, he's a pretty tame tyrant. How many tyrants do you know that really suffer because they can't get cloture?"
  • "[Fox News has] taken reasonable concerns about this president and this economy and turned it into a full-fledged panic about the next coming of Chairman Mao."
Closing speech of Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear (30 October 2010) - YouTube video
  • I can't control what people think this was. I can only tell you my intentions. This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith. Or people of activism or to look down our noses at the heartland or passionate argument or to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear. They are and we do. But we live now in hard times, not end times. And we can have animus and not be enemies.
  • The country’s 24 hour political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator did not cause our problems but its existence makes solving them that much harder.  The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire and then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden, unexpected dangerous flaming ant epidemic. 
    If we amplify everything we hear nothing.
  • There are terrorists and racists and Stalinists and theocrats, but those are titles that must be earned. You must have the resume. Not being able to distinguish between real racists and tea partiers, or real bigots and Juan Williams and Rick Sanchez is an insult — not only to those people, but to the racists themselves, who have put forth the exhausting effort it takes to hate. Just as the inability to distinguish between terrorists and Muslims makes us less safe, not more.
  • We hear every damn day about how fragile our country is — on the brink of catastrophe — torn by polarizing hate and how it’s a shame that we can’t work together to get things done, but the truth is we do.  We work together to get things done every damn day!
  • Most Americans don't live their lives solely as Democrats or Republicans or conservatives or liberals. Most Americans live their lives that are just a little bit late for something they have to do. Often it’s something they do not want to do, but they do it. Impossible things get done every day that are only made possible by the little, reasonable compromises.
  • If you want to know why I’m here and what I want from you I can only assure you this: you have already given it to me. Your presence was what I wanted. Sanity will always be and has always been in the eye of the beholder. To see you here today and the kind of people that you are has restored mine. Thank you.

Speech to Congress on Behalf on 9/11 First Responders (2019)

  • As I sit here today, I can't help but think what an incredible metaphor this room is for the entire process that getting health care and benefits for 9/11 first responders has come to. Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders; and in front of me, a nearly empty Congress. … Your indifference cost these men and women their most valuable commodity -- time! It's the one thing they're running out of. This hearing should be flipped. These men and women should be up on that stage, and Congress should be down here, answering their questions as to why this is so damn hard and takes so damn long.
  • The breathing problems started almost immediately. And they were told they weren't sick, they were crazy. And then, as the illnesses got worse and things became more apparent: "Well, okay, you're sick, but it's not from the pile." And then, when the science became irrefutable: "Okay, it's the pile, but this is a New York issue. I don't know if we have the money."
  • Why this bill isn't unanimous consent and a standalone issue is beyond my comprehension. And I have yet to hear a reasonable explanation for why. It will get stuck in some transportation bill or some appropriations bill and get sent over to the Senate, where a certain someone from the Senate will use it as a political football to get themselves maybe another new import tax on petroleum. Because that's what happened to us in 2015. And we won't allow it to happen again.
  • They responded in five seconds. They did their jobs, with courage, grace... tenacity, humility... Eighteen years later? Do yours!

In response to the PACT Act initially being held up in the Senate (2021)

  • I'm used to the cowardice; I've been here a long time. Senate's where accountability goes to die. These people don't care! They're never losing their jobs, they're never losing their healthcare [...] I'm used to all of it, but I am not used to the cruelty.
  • [The PACT Act] isn't a slush fund! You know what's a slush fund? The OCO -- the Overseas Contingency Operations Fund. 60 billion dollars, 70 billion dollars every year. On top of 500 billion dollars, 600 billion dollars, 700 billion dollars of a defense budget -- that's a slush fund. Unaccountable, no guardrails! Did Pat Toomey stand up and say "This is irresponsible! The guardrails!" No. Not one of 'em did. They vote for it year after year after year. You don't support the troops; you support the war machine! That's all you care about! [...] Boy, they haven't-- They haven't met a war they won't sign up for, and they haven't met a veteran they won't screw over! What the fuck are we?!
[quotes by Jon Stewart unless otherwise noted]
  • When corporations fail, you pay for it. But when they succeed, it's theirs. They socialize their losses and privatize their gains.
  • Government picks winners and losers all the time.
  • Yes, we've lost the war on guns. Personally, I knew it was over after Sandy Hook. We had a chance to pick guns or Kindergarteners and we went with guns.
  • Fossil Fuels power our comfort and convenience. And the fact that they may also be the architect of our impending doom probably won't get us to change our ways. Truth is, we're not a "sacrifice for the greater good" kind of species. [...] We're not a "prevention" folk. We're an "angrily lash out at our lack of preparation in the middle of a preventable emergency" folk, while eating tacos stuffed inside of chalupas.
  • For however sincerely we want to reckon and listen, the truth is America has always prioritized white comfort over black survival. Black people have had to fight so hard for equality that they've been irreparably set back in the pursuit of equity. And any real attempt to... uh, repa-- reparat-- repair. A ton. Of that damage. [whispering] Reparation. [normal voice] Sets off white people's "they're coming for our shit" alarm. Which we would know ourselves, had we actually been listening.
  • Is a permanent underclass a necessity for American capitalism?
  • You think regular people get to surround themselves with a meat shield of henchmen to go to prison in their place?

2022 Mark Twain Prize Acceptance Speech

  • This is a wonderful award, to see all my friends here and all the people I've worked with through the years, it reminds me of just how many people I carried.
  • Black don't crack. But Jews... we age like avocados.
  • You're not your circumstances, you're not what happens to you, you're what you make of it.
  • If you like to do dumb shit -- which is something I like very much to do -- I cannot recommend more, creating a small child who also likes to do dumb shit. Because you can do the dumb shit and say "That's what he wanted!"
  • I carry around, always, a quote by Twain, it-- It just so happens that I am never without it. And it's about ideas, and the quote is: "The radical invents the views. But when he has worn them out the conservative adopts them." And I keep that with me as a reminder that, even for Twain, they're not all fucking gems.
  • What we do is an iterative business. It's a grind. It's work. The best amongst us just keeps at it.
  • It's not the Woke Police that are gonna be an existential threat to comedy. It's not the Fresh Prince, it's the Crown Prince. It's not the fragility of audiences, it's the fragility of leaders.
  • Comedy doesn't change the world, but it's a bell-weather. We're the banana peel in the coal mine. When a society is under threat, comedians are the ones who get sent away first. It's just a reminder that democracy is under threat. Authoritarians are the threat -- to comedy, to art, to music, to thought, to poetry, to progress, to all those things! It's never been-- All that shit, it's a red herring. It ain't the Pronoun Police, it's the Secret Police. It always has been, and it always will be. And this man's decapitated visage is a reminder to all of us that what we have is fragile and precious. And the way to guard against it isn't to change how audiences think, it's to change how leaders lead.

Quotes about Stewart

The Daily Show, even with Jon Stewart as host, routinely garnered fewer viewers than reruns of Family Guy on the Cartoon Network. – Derek Hunter
  • The set is a news desk, and the nice-looking man behind it seems... um, troubled. About his life, perhaps? About the news? A touch of indigestion? It's hard to tell, but it becomes clear—and quickly—that he is funny. And smart.
    Jon Stewart presides over Comedy Central's The Daily Show, a blessed wedding of performer and format. Free of the burden of a full stand-up monologue, Stewart is able to put all his energy and wit into the news and guest spots. The word energy is almost too strong. Much of Stewart's humor seems to spring from an underlying terrain of world-weariness. [...] Repeat viewing of Stewart's shows reveals good things you missed the first time—smallish matters of voice shading, inflections and gestures begun but not completed. If you're a latecomer to his charms, you'll wish your alleged friends had demanded that you start watching a lot sooner. I'd like to see everything he has ever done.
  • Stewart spent a couple of segments lecturing Paul Begala and me about how we were somehow “helping the politicians and the corporations,” a charge that baffled me then (I’ve never particularly liked either one), as it does now.
    Unlike most guests after an uncomfortable show, Stewart didn’t flee once it was over, but lingered backstage to press his point. With the cameras off, he dropped the sarcasm and the nastiness, but not the intensity. I can still picture him standing outside the makeup room, gesticulating as the rest of us tried to figure out what he was talking about. It was one of the weirdest things I have ever seen.
    Finally, I had to leave to make a dinner. Stewart shook my hand with what seemed like friendly sincerity and continued to lecture our staff. An hour later, one of my producers called me, sounding desperate. Stewart was still there, and still talking.
  • A goal of Colbert while working as a correspondent on "The Daily Show" — one of his "greatest joys" — was whether he could make Stewart laugh in the middle of a segment. [...] "I knew the piece was good if he couldn't look at me when we were at the desk together," Colbert recalls. "We did much (fewer) green screen segments then. The highlight was when we were covering the Democratic convention in 2004, and I did a piece on Obama being the son of a goat farmer and I said I was the son of an Appalachian turd miner. Jon couldn't look at me for the entire thing."
  • "After coming back to the show, I was shocked at how much thought and distillation he personally puts into the script," [Stephen Colbert] says, "that care and unbelievable work ethic, and ability to consume information, digest and distill a story. He's telling us that this is the mechanics of the human interaction, and this is the actual message of the story."
    Colbert says Stewart's intelligence (the host can read books and script pages at lightning speed) can't be overstated, and that the show's mojo comes from stories Stewart brings to light that the traditional media fail to report.
    "He's naming what seems most ridiculous about the news, which is the personalities and the news itself," Colbert says. "It's only the overt game that's being reported."
  • Now back to business as usual.
    • Jim Cramer during the opening of the first episode of Mad Money (2009-03-13) after his interview with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.
  • Comedian Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central, has been making waves with his nightly parody of the day's news. His straight-faced takeoffs of journalists and politicians often serve as biting indictments of official hypocrisy and media complicity.
    • Amy Goodman and David Goodman, Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back (2006)
  • Has your boss ever poured scalding hot Celestial Seasonings Lemon Zinger on to your arm? It doesn't just burn, OK? It's also citrus, and the citrus stings. And then he filled the pockets of my jacket with cockroaches. I work for a child.
    • Ed Helms, The Daily Show: "American Resolutions: A Series of Human Interest Stories Used to Emotionally Manipulate You"
  • Judging solely by the amount of media attention it got, you'd think The Daily Show, when the vaunted Jon Stewart was host, was the most-watched show of the 21st Century. You'd be wrong. It rarely made the top 100 rated shows of the week. Yes, you heard that right. The Daily Show, even with Jon Stewart as host, routinely garnered fewer viewers than reruns of Family Guy on the Cartoon Network. Yet when Stuart spoke, the media listened, even though the people didn't.
    • Derek Hunter, Outrage, Inc.: How the Liberal Mob Ruined Science, Journalism, and Hollywood (2018, Harper Collins)
  • I think part of the reason The Problem with Jon Stewart feels out of touch is because we've outgrown him; the people who grew up watching him are done walking up to symptoms and are ready to identify and call out things like capitalism and neoliberalism. We're living in the world Jon Stewart created, but I think that he's got some catching up to do if he wants to find a place in it for himself.
  • Stephen Colbert says that for all of Jon Stewart's acumen when it comes to politics and comedic timing, "The Daily Show" host and managing editor has no problem going lowbrow.
    "He knows when to break the glass, if necessary," Colbert reasons.
  • I love Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report.
    • 2007 interview in Conversations with Bharati Mukherjee Edited by Bradley C. Edwards (2009)
  • And that is your tragedy, Jon. [imitating Stewart and affecting falsetto] Look at me! I'm a sad clown! I hate you! I need you! I hate you! I need you! I don't want you, but I need constant attention and reinforcement from you laughter!
  • In November, America elected a black man president after two disastrous terms of George W. Bush. Race was transcended. People were so angry that they tossed aside centuries-old prejudices. [...] Last night, America witnessed a non-comedian hosting the Oscars after two calamitous stints by you, Jon Stewart: The George W. Bush of Comedy. Jon, you angered the world so much they were willing to completely redefine their concept of what an Oscars host should be. And like a phoenix from the ashes of the two massive turds you laid on that stage, rose Hugh Jackman.
    • John Oliver (2009-02-23). "81st Academy Awards". The Daily Show. The Daily Show official website. Retrieved on 2009-03-29.
  • I think Stewart’s show demonstrated the decline and vacuity of contemporary comedy. I cannot stand that smug, snarky, superior tone. I hated the fact that young people were getting their news through that filter of sophomoric snark… I find nothing incisive in his work. As for his influence, if he helped produce the hackneyed polarisation of moral liberals versus evil conservatives, then he’s partly at fault for the political stalemate in the United States.
  • We’re living in a media landscape that seems to get more infantile and politically simple-minded all the time—-look at the huge popularity of Glenn Beck…and I saw someplace recently that Jon Stewart is now the most trusted man in America. The clowns seem to be taking over the circus.
  • Before Mr. Stewart, we didn’t expect much from nightly political humor. Late-night monologues were at best funny diversions, at worst toothless jabs pandering to the easiest stereotypes. ... The Daily Show didn’t just offer insightful, cutting analysis, clever parody and often hard-hitting interviews with major newsmakers. For an entire generation, it became the news, except this report could withstand the disruption of the Internet far better than the old media. If anything, the web only made The Daily Show, with its short segments, more essential. Every time a political scandal exploded or a candidate made headlines or a cable fight went viral, the first thought for many viewers was: I can’t wait to see what Jon Stewart will say about this.
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