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20 Things You Didn't Know about Jon Stewart

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Presents Democalypse 2014: South By South Mess

Jon Stewart is a classic in every sense of the word.  Since Stewart's younger days in stand up comedy,  he's worked extremely very hard on his craft at both making us laugh but also making us think.  Stewart has been the host of many television shows that we know and love including the 'The Daily Show" which he is clearly most well known for, and he has starred in numerous movies like The Colbert Report, Rosewater, and Big Daddy, many of which he produced himself. But there is more to the amicable TV personality than meets the eye.

Below are 20 facts that you probably did not know about Jon Stewart:

1.He began his stand-up comedy career in the same place that many great comedians did:

Jon Stewart followed the path of his elders and began his career at the same place that many before him did including Woody Allen and Bill Cosby.  It was in 1987 on the set of The Bitter End. Stewart considers Woody Allen to be one of his comedic heroes and his career path was directly influenced by him. Looks like this path was tried and true as it gained him popularity and has led him to become one of the best comedians on American television today.

2. His grandfather was born in Inner Mongolia:

Jon Stewart’s grandfather, Nathan Laskin, was born in inner Mongolia in 1906 and was raised in Tientsin, China for a great part of his life. Tientsin used to be home to a well-developed, small, Jewish community. Jon Stewart, in fact, comes from a long line of Jewish families and his ancestry can be traced to Austria, Poland, Ukraine, and Belarus.

3. He first appeared on television in 1971:

Jon Stewart’s first TV appearance was on a children’s TV show in 1971 when he was only 9 years old. He, along with his school band, had a guest spot on a popular children’s TV show called 'Captain Noah and His Magical Ark' which marked his first official introduction to television. On that particular show, he played the trumpet.  The rest as they say, is history.  Well, not really.

4. Jon Stewart inspired Stephen Colbert's interest in political satire:

About this Colbert says “I didn’t enjoy political humor until I started working with Jon [Stewart], and then I found I had a stronger [political point of view] than I imagined."  As you all know, Colbert is now host of Late Night having taken over for David Letterman.  Colbert, along with countless others, has Stewart to thank for excelling his career path.   The two remain close friends to this day and can still be seen doing bits together.

5. He could have hosted "Late Night" before Conan:

Jon Stewart was in the running to replace David Letterman when he left NBC's 'Late Night' but the job went to Conan O'Brien instead. Stewart ended up at MTV where he had his own talk showp, 'The Jon Stewart Show' which lasted for two years and gained him his initial popularity. David Letterman was a big fan of the show and became the final guest on 'The Jon Stewart Show' in 1995 before it was discontinued.

6. He was almost the host of a popular daytime show:

What we now know as ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’ could have been called 'Jon Stewart Live!' if everything had played out as originally planned. In 2002, ABC offered Jon Stewart the talk show which was to be scheduled after Nightline. However, the role was later given Jimmy Kimmel who is the current host. It leaves us wondering what the difference would have been if Jon Stewart were placed in that role.  No Daily Show?

7. He worked at Comedy Central before it was Comedy Central:

If you have been in the game for as long as Jon Stewart has, you work for shows before they actually become popular in the mainstream. In 1990, Jon Stewart was hired to write for a show that was called “The Sweet Life,” which ran on HBO’s Comedy Channel. That very channel is what transformed into what we know now as Comedy Central.  Thank you, Jon Stewart, for laying the foundations for what is now one of the best cable channels that exist in American television.

8. He met his wife on a blind date:

While the world has many mixed opinions about blind dates, many of which are very negative, it seems to have worked for Jon Stewart.  Not only did it work out but it was also the first and last blind dates for Jon and Tracey. One of Tracey’s friends fixed her and Stewart up and the two met at a Mexican restaurant over dinner. Tracey was so done with the dating scene at the time that she almost didn’t go.  Thank God she made it because the pair met and fell in love and have been married for 16 years.

9. He is a hopeless romantic:

Everyone knows that Jon Stewart is a funny man and he has made a lot of money with great sense of humor. However, most people would not have pinned him as a hopeless romantic. Jon Stewart proposed to his wife Tracey McShane in a unique way: through a personalized crossword puzzle put together with the help of Will Shortz, a New York Times crossword editor. This was probably the inspiration for an episode of the 8th season of Shonda Rhimes's hit TV series, Grey's Anatomy, where Dr. Miranda Bailey was proposed to by her boyfriend in a similar fashion.

10. He had a different name growing up:

Believe it or not, our favorite television personality has not always responded by the name that we now know him by. Growing up, he was originally known as John Stuart Leibowitz while he carried his father's last name. On June 19, 2001, Jon filed a name change application with his wife and officially changed their surname to Stewart. A lot of factors played into his decision to change his name but the main one concerned his father, which we discuss in a bit.

11. He has two Grammys:

In 2005, Stewart and his "Daily Show" team earned themselves a Grammy Award in the Best Comedy Album category for the audiobook 'America (The Book)'. His second Grammy was awarded him in 2011 when he (and his team) won the 'Best Spoken Word Album' for their work Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race. Apart from these Grammys, Stewart also has some other prestigious awards under his belt. He has won 22 Emmy Awards out of the 47 times that he has been nominated, won 7 Producers Guild of America awards and five Peabody Awards, all from his time on The Daily Show.

12. He does not have a relationship with his father:

Jon Stewart is among the many Americans children that grew up without a father. His father, Donald Leibowitz, walked out on his family when Jon was just 9 years old and this became one of the primary reasons why Jon decided to change his surname.  He could not continue to carry the name of a man about whom he knew nothing about and who he does not have any form of relationship with.

13. He took over the Daily Show from Craig Kilborn:

The original host for the popular television series, The Daily Show, was Craig Kilborn from 1996 to 1998. He reportedly left the show because he was causing friction among much of the female staff. Jon Stewart took the position in 1998 and he made the show what it is today, earning a lot of awards and accolades during his tenure. However, he retired from the position of host in 2015 and the role was taken over by Trevor Noah. Jon Stewart still remains a writer and an executive producer of the show.

14. He has more to do with Craig Kilborn than you thought:

We have gone over the fact that Jon Stewart replaced Craig Kilborn as host of 'The Daily Show' but what you probably did not know is that Craig Kilborn left 'The Daily Show' to replace Tom Snyder on 'The Late Late Show'. But before Kilborn was hired, Stewart had been a frequent guest host on 'The Late Late Show' and was rumored as a potential replacement for Kilborn. Yet, history repeated itself and like NBC before them, CBS didn't offer him the gig. They, instead, asked him to anchor the show after 'The Late Late Show' which he subsequently turned down.

15. His first film role was cut from the movie:‘The First Wives Club’

No one has ever seen his first film role in the popular movie 'The First Wives Club’ because it was cut out before it was aired.  Stewart was hired to play the lover of Goldie Hawn's character Elise. His part, however, never actually made it to the film. About the cutting out he joked "I played her boyfriend and apparently they felt that that was not inherently part of the storyline and so she broke up with me before the movie started," on Larry King Live in 2006.

16. He has always been funny

Some say that to be an accomplished comedian in your later life, you have to nurture the craft in your earlier years, and this is exactly what Jon Stewart did. He has, since he was a child, had the natural ability to make people laugh till they cry and will continue to do this as long as he's in the public eye.  While he was in high school in New Jersey, he was voted the student with the 'Best Sense of Humor'.  Not very surprising.

17. He has a production company called Busboy Productions

He formed it in the mid 90s when he was gaining popularity as the host of MTV's The Jon Stewart Show and named it Busboy Productions in honor of the times he worked as a busboy in a Mexican restaurant growing up. Busboy Productions has not always had it easy and has been through some rough times when production and projects were coming in at a very slow rate.  However, the company is rocking now.   For example, Busboy Productions is responsible for creating shows like The Colbert Report, Important Things with Demetri Martin, The Naturalized, The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore and Three Strikes.

18. He used to be in a fraternity and dropped out

Stewart used to be in a fraternity while he was attended the College of William and Mary.  He claimed that he joined a fraternity because he needed to branch out in college. This led him to be initiated into the Pi Kappa Alpha. The Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity was formed in 1868 at the University of Virginia and has long since become a national organization yo which thousands of boys pledge in college each year. After about six months, however, he dropped out saying that fraternities served no purpose.

19. He has a brother on a totally different career path than him:

Jon Stewart has a brother who is not a comedian.  His Brother, Lawrence Leibowitz, is the chief operating officer of NYSE Euronext and is responsible for 'operations management, global cash execution, and global listings'.  In 2011 alone, he earned a total of $4,583,385.  The two brothers may not be on the same career trajectory, but they sure are similar in the sense that they make substantial livings.

20. He played soccer in college

Television's favorite comedian has (or had) other talents apart from being extremely funny.  While you might never have expected it Jon played on the College of William and Mary soccer team.  While he wasn't one of the best in the country, making any collegiate team is considered highly impressive by any standard.   It's a shame we haven't seen him put his soccer skills on display in his later years.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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