Okay, well, on to the questions.
Book), did you guys consider any other concepts, or was it
always conceived as a mock textbook?
I thought of South America (The Book)
, but uh... I
don't know, it just didn't have the same ring to it.
I mean the thing about it being a textbook is the interesting
part.... So many books now are these polemics. And we wanted to sort of find
the polar opposite, the emotional opposite of kind of the kick-in-the-groin
political diatribe. And we thought the textbook would be the perfect
unemotional structure to kind of examine the system as a whole.
Plus we wanted to put in one of those things where you get to
write your name in--My Book, This Book Belongs To--that kind of thing.
That's the best part. So what was the process like with the
writers and the designers putting the whole package together?
It was ridiculously harder than what we thought it was going to
be. We figured this is going to be one of those, aah, we'll just transcribe a
couple of fun bits we did on the show--ding, ding, ding--slap it together, cash
the check, head out to a steak dinner.
But everybody really
worked just unbelievably hard on it.
And to Pentagram's credit, oftentimes melding design with comedy content is
really hard because they had to understand how to use the images and context to
further the comedy, as opposed to often that stuff can overwhelm it. But they
did an unbelievable job of taking the comedic content into account.
They really did. So how do you even go about then balancing your
commitments with working on the book?
We pretty much just started phoning the show in. Really
dropping the ball. Coming in late, not preparing, being incredibly
I think what everybody decided was, you know what? Here's the
deal. From now until Election Day our lives are going to be annoyingly myopic.
And we just... everybody focused and did a pretty incredible job of kind of a
marathon sprint, to a certain extent, just working.... The past nine months
have been sort of hellacious.
Was there anything that didn't make the final version of the book
that you wish you could have kept in?
I gotta say we were really... yeah... no. This wasn't one of those
where we were like, jeez, we've got 500 pages of material, we've got to hone it
I think that more particularly what it was, is we kind of threw
everything onto the plate like that Devil's Tower of mashed potatoes that was
Encounters, and then just kind of started whittling it down. So
it wasn't so much that there was stuff ultimately that didn't get in, as much
as things that were in that got sort of siphoned out and fine-tuned.
We left in a lot of prepositions that we could have pulled, too.
There's a lot of very, very, very
stuff, just to pad it.
Now you have the poster. We have a lot of books with CDs and DVDs
that come bundled, but how did the poster come about?
We wanted... here's what we figured. What if this book sucks? Why
not throw a poster in it? That way, even if it sucks, they'll get a poster.
That's a pretty good deal. Sort of the Ron Popeil's approach to selling books,
By the way, I think a lot of people--Salinger would do well to
throw a poster in, I think he could really bang out a few more copies of
Was there any concern that posing with the bald eagle that he was
going to peck your eyes out, or did they Photoshop him in?
Well here's the interesting thing about the bald eagle, he's
actually a golden eagle because apparently it's illegal to pose with a bald
one, and he's actually wearing a bald eagle wig.
There was concern that he would peck my eyes out. He was very big.
And seemingly disinterested in not poking my eyes out. They're serious.
Well this isn't really a question, but I have to say, under the
section on Presidential Nicknames, you claim that Millard Fillmore possessed "a
pair of magical talking cats." I just want to tell you that I enjoyed that
Listen, this isn't us claiming that! This is historical! This is a
I believe you said one was named Denise.
I believe one of them was. We may have gotten the name of his
second magical cat wrong. I think my favorite one is Martin Van Goldfish.
So do you think America (The Book)
is going to have
any impact on voters?
Yes. I think that many voters will--I mean this is a serious
book--will maybe throw a disc. I think that if a lot of people buy this book,
it could really suppress voter turnout.
Have you had a chance to read any of the abundant politically
themed books coming out this season? Or do you just avoid those?
Yeah, I mean unless somebody is coming on the show, I tend to
Do you read much fiction?
No, if I am going to read it's going to be nonfiction, and chances
are it's going to be an exposé on one organization or another. But in
general I don't have much time to read fiction.
And also, I lost my imagination in 1987. I believe at the Port
Authority. But if I could find it again I think I'd go back there.
"I just think politicians are more interesting to talk
to. Not that I'm not fascinated with the exact date a movie is coming
out--chances are it's Friday. But in general, I think it's slightly more
interesting probably to talk to somebody who does something completely
different from what I do." --Jon Stewart
OK. Well on The Daily Show
are you more comfortable
playing off of politicians or pop-culture personalities?
I just think politicians are more interesting to talk to. Not that
I'm not fascinated with the exact date a movie is coming out--chances are it's
Friday. But in general, I think it's slightly more interesting probably to talk
to somebody who does something completely different from what I do.
And so you've had former President Clinton, Ralph Nader, John
Kerry recently, is there any chance President Bush will be dropping by?
Hold on, let me take a wild stab at this one. No. I'm going to go
out on a limb here and say, no.
So who's your dream guest then?
You know, I gotta say I really do hope that my dreams are
somewhat... I don't know... maybe higher-minded than what guest I might get on
the show. I would hope that at some point I would be able to say, well there's
probably some people that would be nice to have on the show in fun, but dreams?
Man, if that ever happens I think it's time for me to get out of the
So what's it like at the writer's room there?
Um, it's pretty vicious. I think conditions are a little rough. I
think sanitary conditions could be improved. I think certainly the spread of
disease is a concern. I think we're doing the best we can, but... this is what
happens when you hire... you know, obviously child labor, [for] many of whom
English is a second language.
So do you have any pre-show rituals?
What have you heard?
I'd like to hear.
Uh... I don't think I do. I'm not... there isn't any kind of, I
must eat a chicken wing and then hop three times and head downstairs.
Nothing like that?
None of that stuff.
"What's happening with Amazon? When did Amazon get so
spooky? Have you guys already written my epitaph? Is that something, if I click
on the site it'll say, 'Jon Stewart, here's something you didn't know! Here are
other books you checked out, here's other things that you might like, and
here's where you're going to die
!'" --Jon Stewart
Well finally, this is the Inside the Actor's Studio portion of the
interview, a little thing we call "Amazon Asks... the Significant Seven."
Wait! Are you Amazon? I didn't know it was a person! By the way,
do you guys have to sell everything
We're getting there.
I'd like to buy the Earth's core.
I don't know what tab that's under.
So what book has had the most significant impact on your life?
(Pause) Excellent question. Uhhhh... I'm going to say
OK, very good.
Oh wait, I meant
the Bible! Did I say
? What I mean to say was, uh... the story of...
We can loop that in.
I blew that one.
So you're on a desert island with only one book, one CD, and one
DVD. What are they?
Uh, the book is an instructional manual on getting off desert
islands. It has in it ways you can make things on the desert island that could
help you get off of it. Maybe perhaps a surviving-a-desert-island-stranding
All right, and the CD?
Do they have those?
Like, Boat Building
. Uh, the CD?
Uh, some nice, uh... I guess just the song "
On a loop...
Just over and over again, so that I could feel like I'm back in
And the DVD?
Probably Thor Heyerdahl. Again, I'd have to go with
I just feel like I'd be pretty focused on getting off.
What is the worst lie you've ever told?
The worst lie... Man, you know, I try so hard to expunge those
from my memory, and this could bring up a whole repressed, in eighth grade I
was touched by a... I like to bury 'em.
We'll do that. Describe your perfect writing environment.
I get up around seven. I have half a melon. I Jazzercise for about
45 minutes and then I sit down at my wicker table, and I begin to tap away at
my 1944 Selectric. The one without the superscript, by the way. I don't forge
I'm trying to think.... I don't have... There's no particular...
I'm very not particular about my environment.
I think in my perfect writing environment I've just cleared enough
space on my desk so that after I'm done writing I don't lose whatever I wrote.
I think there's a certain... I need sort of... uh, uh, organized clutter.
And if you could write your own epitaph, what would it say?
Not Dead Yet. It would have something to do with not being dead!
Why would I write my own epitaph?
What's happening with Amazon? When did Amazon get so spooky? Have
you guys already written my epitaph? Is that something, if I click on the site
it'll say, "Jon Stewart, here's something you didn't know! Here are other books
you checked out, here's other things that you might like, and here's where
you're going to die
On that note, who's the one person living or dead that you would
like to have dinner with?
Well I don't think I'd like to have dinner with someone dead, and
I'll tell you why. I just think the smell would make it very uncomfortable.
So... I kinda rule them out.
So living then?
I would go with someone living, wouldn't you?!
I probably would.
I mean it just seems like... have you talked to people where
they're like, "I'd like to eat with a dead guy! I would like to see what that's
like." I mean you might as well eat alone at that point.
It could get ugly.
Uhhh... who would I like to eat with?
Or a cocktail.
Oh, have a drink with, too?
I don't know, man. I wish I had a richer fantasy life!
Here's what I've realized from talking to Amazon.com. I have set
the bar incredibly low for my life. I have no dreams, I have no aspirations, I
have no inspirations. I have no one that I desperately would like to have a
cocktail or a meal with.
But your book's at No. 5, though.
Oh, No. 5! That's awesome.
And now, finally, if you could have one superpower, what would it
Wow. I get a superpower?
You know, I could game the system and say I want the superpower
that allows you to create new superpowers. But I'm not going to game the system
that way, because I know that's not the spirit of the game. We're having a
parlor game here, am I right?
By the way, if the next whole line of questioning is
Pictionary, I'm hanging
Worst parlor game interview ever
Now we're going to play Spin the Bottle.
Uh, I would like to have... I mean I guess you've got to go with
fly. I mean I don't know many people that wouldn't go with fly.
You know, I just think... super flexibility... how many times do
you find yourself really
having to bend over that
get something? I think the flying thing.
X-ray vision is probably... you know, it's a neat parlor trick,
but I don't think it's going to get you that far for that long. The fire thing,
it's a little destructive. I mean I think flying.
Very good. Well Jon, thank you so much for your time.
And I wish you continued success on the show and with the
Oh, thank you very much, and thank you so much for, you know,
supporting the book and everything.
You got it.
All right, take care.