‘The Daily Show’: Why Ed Helms Called Jon Stewart’s Threat of Firing Him a ‘Very Gracious Move’

Before starring as Andy Bernard on NBC’s uber popular sitcom The Office, Ed Helms could be seen as a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. On the Comedy Central show from 2002 to 2009, Helms previously discussed working with Stewart and recalled his boss threatening to give him the ax during a difficult scene.

Ed Helms in a brown jacked and plaid shirt, sitting and smiling
Ed Helms | Heidi Gutman/NBC NewsWire

Ed Helms couldn’t keep a straight face on an early ‘Daily Show’ sketch

When Helms first joined the cast of The Daily Show, he was apprehensive for a while as the new kid on the block. He described an early sketch he was working on that involved a medical storyline.

“I remember doing my second segment,” Helms said in 2015, according to Cinemablend. “I was still so green and nervous. The bit was that I had a little mole removed from my nose, but we treated it as this big, heavy medical segment. Katie Couric’s on-air colonoscopy was the inspiration. I had this jar with a huge sausage floating in it that was supposed to be the mole.”

The absurdity of the scene prompted Helms to continually burst out laughing when he rehearsed.

“It was a dumb bit, but I could not keep it together,” The Office alum admitted. “I was laughing really hard during rehearsal, and I was terrified because I didn’t want to laugh during the taping.”

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Jon Stewart came up with a good solution to keep Ed Helms focused

Stewart saw that Helms was having a hard time getting through the scene, and figured out a way to get him to stop laughing.

“So, at the end of rehearsal, Jon looks me in the eye and goes, totally deadpan, ‘If you laugh during the taping, you’re fired,’ ” Helms recalled. “My heart just dropped. Then he burst out laughing.”

Helms saw Stewart’s strategy of using humor to defuse his lingering nerves as a sign of support.

“By making a joke that played on my biggest fear, he knew how to make me relaxed and comfortable,” The Hangover star remarked. “It was a very gracious move.”

Ed Helms described Jon Stewart as ‘a real person’

When Stewart was gearing up to leave his longtime post on The Daily Show in 2015, Helms reflected on working with the TV personality. He shared what initially expected when he met the Comedy Central star.

“As is my experience with most TV people, you don’t have as much data as you think you do,” Helms told Entertainment Weekly. “You kind of fill in an entire person based on this very narrow performance that they give on television, and I certainly did that in the case of Jon, who I just assumed was this kind of hilarious and really buoyant personality.”

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The Vacation star discovered that Stewart is a mix of humor and introspection rather than a one-faceted persona. Helms noted that he experiences the same type of misconceptions from others as a television actor.

“As I got to know him over the years, he’s extremely funny and sharp in person,” Helms said. “But he’s also quite serious. He’s serious about his work, and he’s serious about getting things done… in other words, he’s a real person. He works really hard, and I think it’s easy to [create these assumptions] before you meet somebody. I encounter this all the time. People make all kinds of assumptions about who I am and what kind of person I am.”