Literally my first-assignment ever, when I obtained a then-coveted stint as a contributing (not “staff,” sadly) writer at the Daily Bruin, in ye ole college days, was a backstage interview with Jon Stewart in 1995, when he was hosting a short-lived, late night talk/variety show. While the show normally taped in NYC, it was visiting Hollywood for the week. Treats included jazz legend Barry White, Leeza Gibbons popping out of Stewart’s shirt pocket with a VERY long, um, condom (if you don’t know who Leeza Gibbons is, you’re young and I’m old, so go away. No wait, ok, come back); and a puppet show parodying “Beverly Hills 90210,” which had Stewart out for a night on the town with the cast. Admittedly, Stewart did not seem always incredibly engaged during the interview that followed the taping, and perhaps slightly annoyed at times – for being forced to sit and talk for an hour to a group of college reporters (yes, it was a group interview, alas, not one-on-one; there were three or four of us). But who could really blame him; we were young and probably asked stupid vacuous questions! It was, needless to say, a good time all around. A couple fun quotes: Stewart discussing adjusting to the rigors of doing late night talk shows: “I was never built to work. I’m built to sit in front of the TV with a glazed doughnut and go ‘Go Giants!'” and, referring to his musical guest that night, “Tonight, Barry White, as he walked by me, goes ‘You’re a bad mother.’ That’s the best thing anybody ever said to me.”
I also remember Stewart – who was then single – talking at length about his cats.