Jon Stewart Biography

Jon Stewart photo

Before he was famous, Jon Stewart was born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz. His family originally lived in New York City before moving to New Jersey during his childhood. When he was 11 years old, his parents divorced, and Stewart became largely estranged from his father.

Stewart graduated from The College of William & Mary in Virginia in 1984 with a degree in psychology. He didn’t go into comedy straight away, instead taking on a variety of jobs including as a bartender, caterer, and busboy.

He returned to New York City in 1986 to try his hand at stand-up but didn’t take the stage until the following year. He made his debut at The Bitter End, using the stage name Jon Stewart. He has implied he changed his name due to a strained relationship with his father, instead using a variation of his middle name. He legally changed his name in 2001.

Stewart became a nightly regular at the Comedy Cellar before landing his first TV job writing for Caroline's Comedy Hour in 1989. A year later, Stewart began more on-screen gigs, including co-hosting Comedy Central’s Short Attention Span Theater and MTV’s You Wrote It, You Watch It.

He began his first stint as host of his own talk show in 1993 on The Jon Stewart Show. It lasted two seasons before being cancelled due to low syndication ratings.

Stewart is most famous for hosting The Daily Show on Comedy Central. He hosted almost every episode from 1999 to 2015, when Trevor Noah took over hosting duties. Stewart has won multiple awards for his work on The Daily Show, including three Peabody Awards and several Primetime Emmy Awards.

Besides hosting and comedy, Stewart has many producing and directing credits. He launched his own production company, Busboy Productions, in the mid-1990s which created the Daily Show spin-off The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert. Stewart made his directorial debut with the film Rosewater (2014), then directed and wrote the screenplay for Irresistible (2020), starring Steve Carell, Chris Cooper and Rose Byrne.

Over the years, Stewart has been a major advocate for the first responders of the September 11 attacks. He helped break the U.S. Senate deadlock over the bill to provide healthcare and benefits for emergency workers who were present on 9/11. He again drew attention in 2019 for his impassioned plea to Congress to keep funding the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Funding was supposed to end in December 2020, however after Stewart’s appearance on Capitol Hill, the House and Senate overwhelmingly voted to keeping it active through 2092.

Stewart lives with his wife, Tracey McShane. They have been married since 2000 and have two children.

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