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.
The two spent five years working together on “The Daily Show,” and Colbert, whose own “The Colbert Report” has become a hit on Comedy Central, explains that it’s Stewart’s passion that invigorates the political satire on each broadcast.
Colbert saw this when he returned to “The Daily Show” for a second stint, about a year after Stewart took over.
“After coming back to the show, I was shocked at how much thought and distillation he personally puts into the script,” he 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.”
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. One that comes immediately came to his mind was when Barack Obama first began receiving national attention.
“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.”