Jon Stewart’s Journey From ‘Butt Crack Guy’ to Beloved Icon

Jon Stewart’s television career is undoubtedly impressive. One of his most memorable jobs was hosting The Daily Show on Comedy Central for more than 15 years. But he’s mostly stayed off TV since stepping down from that role.

Now, Stewart’s set to make his return with a series on Apple TV+ titled The Problem with Jon Stewart. But he recently looked back on his decades on television, including ridiculous MTV roots.

Jon Stewart posing with awards.
Jon Stewart | Jason Merritt/Getty Images

‘The Jon Stewart Show’ on MTV

Before landing on Comedy Central, Stewart hosted The Jon Stewart Show on MTV in the mid-’90s. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Stewart reflected on his career — including those roots.

“My career began on a show on MTV where I think the first character I introduced was called Butt Crack Guy,” he said. (Warning: an internet search for “Butt Crack Guy” is fruitful but will not immediately produce results for this character.) Stewart said this bit was used to measure censorship by seeing precisely how much they could get away with showing.

After noting he’s evolved since then, he promised “there will be moments of Butt Crack Guy” in the new show. He clarified his comedy is part of his identity, but his chief hope at this point is not just to get laughs. He wants to use this project to lend his spotlight where it can help the most.

‘The Daily Show’ on Comedy Central

Jon Stewart hosts 'The Daily Show'
Jon Stewart | Corey Sipkin/NY Daily News Archive/Getty Images

The Daily Show debuted on Comedy Central more than 25 years ago, and Stewart took over in the late ’90s. Before that, Craig Kilborn was hosting with a concentration on entertainment.

During Stewart’s time as host, the focus became more centered on news and political satire. He became a television superstar and the show helped launch successful careers for actor Steve Carrell and late night host Stephen Colbert.

Despite having what he called “wonderful moments” at The Daily Show, Stewart said he ultimately left for a good reason. “It didn’t feel like I was singing as joyful a song as I wanted to be singing,” he lamented to THR. He stepped down from hosting in 2015 and seemed to become more active in the political sphere.

Fans of Stewart already knew that any new project from him would be loaded with good intentions.

‘The Problem With Jon Stewart’ on Apple TV+

Don’t let the name of the show fool you. Stewart wants viewers to know it will be much more than a comedy show, and it’s definitely not just a show about him. He’s focused less on being entertaining and more on creating possibilities for the right kinds of changes.

In describing The Problem With Jon Stewart, the comedian said it’s something like The Daily Show. But it’s more concentrated on driving important conversations than inciting laughter. The show focuses on different problems contributing to people “getting just jammed at the bottom” of the system, according to Stewart. For instance, the first episode reportedly takes a close look at veterans and healthcare.

Stewart is a regular in D.C. and revealed that his experiences there “enlightened” him. He said he’s “struck by how the most seemingly obvious, simple things got derailed by the systems that are put in place to actually get them done.” While promising “it’s still just a TV show,” Stewart admitted he likes “the idea of exposing these systems as a whole.”

But that doesn’t mean the show will be unrecognizable to his usual audiences. The comedian promised it is branded with the humor viewers have come to love from him. Any reflection on his career suggests Stewart’s newest project will be well-received by fans, no matter what the focus.

The Problem With Jon Stewart debuts on Apple TV+ on Sept. 30.   

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