Six Degrees: Jon Stewart at the 92nd Street Y – What Was Cut

Earth - The BookZoner Karenatasha was at the 92nd Street Y event with Jon Stewart on September 29, 2010. While the audio for the ‘Fresh Air’ interview did become available online, the edits left quite a bit of the interview out, specifically some very interesting points that Jon made about Stephen Colbert. Karenatasha’s report fills in some of those gaps, and gives a first person perspective of the event.

Thanks for the writeup, Karenatasha! (And thanks for the link to the interview, Roland!)


Well, I can’t believe Terry Gross has edited out the most Stephen-y segments of Jon’s talk, so obviously it’s up to me to remember as much as I possibly can. My apologies for not being able to give a blow-by-blow: if I had realized what Ms Gross was going to do I’d have taken notes! Since I didn’t hear the broadcast, I’m not sure what was kept and was cut—except that the most pertinent section was out (thanks to Mr. Arkadin).

Although I’m going to focus mostly on Jon’s comments on Stephen, I just want to say in general that I found Jon very charming and funny throughout. Unlike the B&N gathering, he was a bit more formal here—no baseball cap and tee, but khakis and a nice shirt. Also, because it was a YWHA, he was more focused on his Jewishness than usual, with jokes about his Bar Mitzvah and the audience’s likely ethnicity. I was happy to see how careful he was to bring Stephen into the conversation wherever it was appropriate, even if it was as simple as saying “Stephen Colbert and I” when he could have gotten away with just “I.” Stephen’s name usually got good applause, so clearly many people there were fans of both men and delighted with Colbert commentary.

Jon referred to Stephen pretty early on, when Terry Gross asked about the rally and its genesis. At the time, when I heard Jon’s answer, I was surprised he didn’t mention the “Restore Truthiness” campaign as an inspiration. Of course, since then I’ve learned that Jon and Stephen were actually planning their rally before that. Jon’s spiel on why he wanted the rally and what it is – for people who don’t have time for rallies, etc, etc.—is something we’ve all heard multiple times before (he stays pretty much on message about Restore Sanity), but my favorite line here was when he called Stephen to join him in DC to be his “Voldemort.” It’s certainly an image I like! (And a rally Halloween costume for Stephen?)

The longest reference to Stephen came near the end when Terry asked about the Congressional testimony. In her question, she wanted to know if “Stephen ASKED John whether to do it”. The implication was that Stephen would have come to Jon for permission. (An interesting question, by the way: as exec producer of the show, does Jon technically “own” the Colbert character? Not that anyone else could do it, but still…) “Asked?” Jon said, a bit incredulously. He went on to say that they TALKED about it, and the only question was whether or not Stephen would actually be able to pull it off (since he’d be testifying in character). As long as he could walk that tightrope, they both felt it was doable. Jon was very sarcastic about Congress’s reaction. Jon pretty much stated that Congress had lost the moral capacity to feel shame, a capacity that Stephen retained because he still had decency. I think that Jon may have been thinking about some of the negative media reactions that seemed to feel Stephen was grandstanding and shameless. Just before Terry Gross was about to move on, Jon stated, “I feel protective.” It made me recall some of the things Stephen had said right after the White House Press dinner brouhaha, when, a little surprised at the strength of the reaction, he phoned Jon to discuss it. You really did get such a lovely sense of the two of them collaborating, and Jon’s offering advice and comfort. And I really felt Jon was pretty angry at the media’s behavior and their lack of subtlety. I wonder how much more Jon feels that now after the Sanchez event when even the venerable New York Times pretty much stated that Sanchez was fired “for insulting Jon.”

I don’t think there was anything more about Stephen in the evening, except, as I said before, for Jon’s including him in quick references. But I do want to mention one of my fave non-Stephen moments of the evening: Jon was talking about his children and mentioned that he noticed his son Nate had gotten a particular trait from him. Apparently, Jon paces when he’s gets deep in thought and is trying to figure something out—and he noticed that Nate did that too! He exclaimed, “He’s got the curse!”

After the interview, Jon generously signed his book—though it was after 10 at night! It must have been a really long day for him. When I got up there – we were brought in five people at a time, told to have our books open, and rushed through—the only thing I could think to say is: “Thank you so much for doing this.”

Now, I’m hoping when Stephen’s book comes out, I get a similar chance….

Hope this gives an idea of some of what was cut!

Comments

  1. MaryLovesColbert says:

    Wow! Thank you so much for writing this up, it’s nice to hear the Stephen-y bits that were cut out of the interview. And that really is nice that Jon stayed around to sign his book for you guys. :D

    • Karenatasha says:

      You’re welcome! Yes, it was lovely that he signed. They said he would at the start, but as the interview went on, I thought it might get too late.

  2. Thank you for sharing!
    I wish NPR would post the whole interview.

    • Karenatasha says:

      You’re welcome! Yes, they should post the whole interview. Why not do that on their site? I realize that there’s no leeway on air, but there is online.

  3. NadePaulKuciGravMcKi says:

    Now you know why it is so ‘important’ to censor what the little people hear and read.

  4. Mr. Arkadin says:

    Thank you so much for your ReporT (& the shout out) Karenatasha! :)
    It’s interesting to ponder who owns “Stephen?” Jon, Stephen, or Viascum.
    Err, Viacom. ;)

    • Karenatasha says:

      I think probably Viacom/Comedy Central, even if Jon produced it. But who knows? I think when the show ends, so will the character, anyway, except if Stephen brings it out for special events. And if the relationship between Jon, Stephen, and the network ends on a friendly basis, there shouldn’t be any problem with an occasional performance.

      One thing I didn’t post, because I assumed it had gotten on the air, was Jon’s response to how long he’d stay with “The Daily Show.” Since my assumption is that Stephen won’t continue when Jon quits, it might be of interest to anyone who didn’t hear the broadcast. Jon said he loves doing the show because it uses every bit of his body/brain–but also noted that at some point, he won’t WANT to use every part, and that’s when it would be time to go. It certainly doesn’t seem to be around the corner, but it’s clear that Jon (and of course, Stephen, too) have to devote a massive amount of energy to these shows. In Jon’s case, his children are still very young. He said that when he’s at work he focuses entirely on that, but when he’s home he does the same thing: giving his entire attention to the kids’ TV shows and toys and so forth.

      • Mr. Arkadin says:

        “One thing I didn’t post, because I assumed it had gotten on the air, was Jon’s response to how long he’d stay with “The Daily Show.” Since my assumption is that Stephen won’t continue when Jon quits, it might be of interest to anyone who didn’t hear the broadcast. Jon said he loves doing the show because it uses every bit of his body/brain–but also noted that at some point, he won’t WANT to use every part, and that’s when it would be time to go.”
        If memory serves, none of that made Fresh Air. Except the stuff about the kids/work/home.
        I’ve always thought that Jon would only leave TDS to replace Letterman, his idol. I also think if Jon leaves TDS, CC would have to offer TDS to Stephen. Or at least move TCR to 11:00pm. But then again, everyone thought NBC would have to offer Letterman the Tonight Show when Carson “left”. (Carson, of course was pushed out.) And we know what happened there.

      • marleygirl84 says:

        It’s hard to think of when these amazing shows will end. I could see TCR ending for good, because nobody would be able to carry on with the character….but maybe The Daily Show would continue after Jon left, the most obvious successor being John Oliver. The show would have to go to someone who knows how to write comedy not just perform and John is also the most popular correspondent there right now. Wyatt would be the other possibility.

  5. Karenatasha says:

    Responding to both Arkadin and Marleygirl here:

    First, Arkadin, I cannot believe THAT didn’t make Fresh Air. Wow. But it was a long interview.

    Yes, it is hard to imagine these shows ending.

    I think TDS could go on without Jon, as it went on without Carson Daly, but Jon has really made his mark on it the way Daly didn’t. I agree that Oliver and Cenac are both possibiities, and I love them both. (Shout out to Cenac’s incredible coverage lat week of the Mortgage Brokers’ Association defaulting on their own loans.) As for Stephen taking it over, that’s interesting. The problem TCR may eventually have is that Stephen’s spoofing something–blowhard conservative pundits–that might eventually become less interesting as a target. Of course, he’s taken it WAY beyond that, but it was the starting point. Politicians and politics in general, though, will always be spoof-worthy. The question is whether even Stephen (no pun intended!) would want to go back to a show that takes every bit as much work as his own and won’t really open up new creative paths.

    As for Jon replacing Letterman, I think he’d have less freedom on the networks than he has now, so why do that? It’s true that it is a NY-based show so he could stay here. But, honestly, why? It’s a more boring, staid format and with less buzz (except when the host is sleeping with his staffers) than Jon gets now. And still tons of work. That’s why I never understood why Conan wanted The Tonight Show so much. Yes, I’m well aware of its storied history and I loved Carson. But the show has long since ceased to be as meaningful as it was in Carson’s days, and the TV landscape has changed dramatically since then. The networks are no longer the only, or the best, game in town the way they were when Carson hosted. I think it never was the best format to show off Conan’s more off-the-wall skills and personality.

  6. lockhart43 says:

    Thanks so much for the wonderful recap Karenatasha! I always love to hear about Jon and Stephen’s friendship, as well as their work relationship. Jon saying that he still feels “protective” just makes me smile. And how cute it is that Jon’s son Nate paces just like his dad!

    I feel spoiled with all of these Jon interviews lately, it’s be really fantastic. Thanks again! :)

  7. That was marvelous! Thank you so much for writing this up! I love reading about Jon and Stephen behind-the-scenes. They are so devoted to each other; it’s incredibly sweet.

  8. “It made me recall some of the things Stephen had said right after the White House Press dinner brouhaha, when, a little surprised at the strength of the reaction, he phoned Jon to discuss it.”

    When did Stephen say this? In an interview or something?

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