When the roll call of America’s greatest comedians is finally taken, one name that will surely feature prominently is that of Jon Stewart. A psychologist by training, Stewart initially earned his comic chops on the NYC stand-up circuit in the late 80s. He subsequently switched to writing content for several comic shows before landing the career-defining role of host of The Daily Show in 1999. Stewart spent over a decade in this role during which he accumulated many accolades and achievements. He also used that opportunity to cement his reputation as one of the greatest funny men that America has ever seen.
His Humble Beginnings in the City of New York
Jon Stewart was born as Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz on November 28, 1962, in New York City. He was raised in Lawrenceville, New Jersey and his parents divorced when he was 11 years old. Jon who is of a Jewish descent did not get along with his father. Thus, it was just a matter of time before the Grammy award winner changed his surname to his middle name Stuart, and later to Stewart. After his high school education at Lawrenceville, Stewart attended College of William & Mary in Virginia. He graduated in 1984 with a degree in psychology.
During his school days, Jon had the effortless talent of cracking up his friends and classmates. He was known to be the funny guy, but he never considered pursuing a career in comedy back then. However, after working a series of post-college menial jobs, Jon moved to New York City to try his hands on comedy, starting with stand-up. He performed regularly at the Comedy Cellar. Three years later, He became a comedy writer for the TV show, Caroline’s Comedy Hour. Stewart also began hosting several shows including Comedy Central’s, Short Attention Span Theater, and MTV’s, You Wrote It, You Watch It.
Breakthrough with The Jon Stewart Show
After gaining widespread exposure by appearing on NBC’s Late Night with David Letterman, Jon developed his talk show on MTV titled The Jon Stewart Show. The eponymous show would become MTV’s first talk show as well as a hit for the network as it became their highest-rated show, bested only by Beavis and Butt-head. Unfortunately, the show took a downward turn and the ratings began to drop. This led to its cancellation in 1995.
After the show ended, Stewart, who had gained Letterman as one of his fans, continued hosting several small shows created by Letterman’s production company, Worldwide Pants. All of his hard work finally paid off after he was tapped to replace Craig Kilborn in hosting The Daily Show in 1999. The show thus metamorphosed into The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and remained so up until 2015. During this period, Stewart endeared himself to Americans with his humorous but insightful take on various issues of national importance.
This led to a sustained increase in ratings for the show as well as critical acclaim. His work also fetched him 22 Emmy Awards in various categories, making him the highest Emmy award recipient ever. After 16 glorious years as the Daily Show host, Jon announced his departure on the show on February 10, 2015. His last episode was aired on August 6, 2015, and he was thereafter succeeded by South African comedian Trevor Noah.
Smiling to the Bank
Given the mercurial career that he has had, one would expect Jon Stewart to be raking in the big bucks and he does not disappoint. The New York native has a net worth of $80 million and he owes this to his diverse TV career. First up was his earnings during his days as host of the daily show. Jon received an impressive $1.5 million in 2000 and by 2008, the amount had ballooned to a sumptuous $14 million. Two years later, in 2010, the legendary comic signed a new 3-year deal to continue as host of the show which saw him earn between $20 and $30 million annually. Another source of Stewart’s fortune is his other creative pursuit asides comedy.
The Daily Show host has directed and produced several movies and TV series including The Donor, Important Things with Demetri Martin, and Rosewater. Stewart also has a production company, Busboy Production. In 2005, the company signed a funding deal with Comedy Central. It has also produced spin-offs of The Daily Show such as The Colbert Report, and The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. Off the screens, Jon Stewart has also tried his hands at writing with considerable success. His two books, America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democratic Inaction (2004) and Earth (The Book): A Visitor’s Guide to the Human Race (2010) have all emerged NYT bestsellers. The audio version of America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction also won a Grammy in 2005 for Best Comedy Album.
Sharing his Better Half’s passion
The best thing that can happen to an individual is for them to find a partner who shares their passion and interest. Stewart is quite lucky in this regard as he is married to an equally compassionate and selfless lady by the name Tracey Lynn Stewart nee McShane. Tracey is a native of Philadelphia and was born in the year 1967. She naturally has a soft spot for animals and so, trained as a veterinary technician. She now focuses her attention on animal advocacy and protection and has even penned a book in that regard. Stewart first met his wife as a result of a blind date arranged by a mutual friend of theirs in 1997. They subsequently started dating and the comic popped the big question, through a well-crated crossword puzzle, four years later.
The super-smart Tracey was able to figure out the marriage proposal contained in the puzzle and said yes. The couple then tied the knot with the dawn of a new millennium in 2000. Jon and Tracey have remained together ever since then and have built an enviable relationship. They have also collaborated on projects close to their heart including animal protection. The couple has a 12-acre farm in New Jersey which houses a variety of animals including dogs, pigs, rabbits, and fishes. In June 2019, they announced that the farm would officially become a Farm Sanctuary branch, meaning that animals rescued from the slaughterhouse will now live out their natural lives on the premises.
Asides their huge love for animals, Jon, and his wife are the proud parents of two kids namely son, Nathan Thomas, born in July 2004 and daughter, Maggie Rose, born in February 2006. Nathan suffered a major health crisis in 2016 as he was diagnosed with celiac disease (an autoimmune disease where eating gluten can cause blockage of the small intestine) as well as a blockage in his left kidney. Luckily, the doctors were able to figure out what was wrong with him and treated him with a combination of operation as well as medication. The young boy is now back to his bubbly self and his father is just happy that they were able to get the kind of care they needed.