As the countdown to Jon Stewart’s “retirement” from The Daily Show whittles down to a final few episodes, I have to say I agree with President Obama’s sentiment: "Isn’t there something we can do to stop this?" After 16 years, Stewart is stepping down from his Daily Show desk on August 6th. It is safe to say his impact on our national culture, identity, and some would argue, political history, is immeasurable. In fact, just this week it was revealed that Stewart actually advised the President during two secret Oval Office meetings in the past four years.
If you could turn back the clock 20 years and ask a 32-year old Stewart if he would one day be advising a sitting President of the United States after reinventing American political satire, he would have bust a gut laughing. I know this because I spent an afternoon with the young comedian in 1995. As a junior staffer at the one-year-old InStyle, I convinced my bosses that Stewart, who had just debuted his own talk show on MTV, was worthy of two pages of our not-yet-hefty magazine. Our focus then was on the “private lives of public people” and somehow we concocted a scenario that involved a photographer and me tagging along with Stewart as he shopped for furnishings for his new “bachelor pad.” His roommates at the time—two cats named Stanley and Sidney—called all shots.
Stewart was a good sport throughout the day, posing on various settees and lounges. It would be impossible to pull off a stunt like this today for many, many reasons. Here’s a look at that story as it appeared in May 1995. Though I am already mourning the loss of Stewart’s nightly commentary in the upcoming 2016 election, I hope he manages to enjoy his legacy from the comfort of whatever “Barcalounger” he currently plops.
The following story originally appeared in May InStyle, 1995.
CHAIRMAN OF THE BORED: SLACKER TALK SHOW HOST JON STEWART HAS MADE A HOME FOR HIMSELF ON LATE-NIGHT TV. IT'S HIS APARTMENT THAT NOW NEEDS THE FIXIN'
Decorating is not a priority for late-night talk show host Jon Stewart. So when, on a recent rare day off, he decided to go in search of a chair for his one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan, all agreed it was a special occasion. His target: Soho, New York's hippest design district, where the shops stock everything from fifties kitsch to nineties modern. "Shopping of this magnitude should not be done on a Sunday," quipped the sometime stand-up comedian. "I'll probably set out looking for a Barcalounger and end up with Henry VIII's throne."
Executive-producing as well as hosting The Jon Stewart Show means five 12-hour days per week for Stewart. "My average workday is about 10 to 10," he explains. "Then I go home and sit and think about the show. I wake up the next day and do the same thing." This workaholic lifestyle leaves little time for interior design. Stewart jokes that his apartment is filled with objects from a category on The $10,000 Pyramid: Things People Throw Away. "I have a very sparse house. It's decorated in a Do-you-need-this? style. Friends will move and they'll go, 'Hey, do you need a couch?' And I'll go, 'OK.' That's what my apartment is decorated in—that, and boxes."
Though he moved into his Greenwich Village apartment more than a year ago, settling in and filling it up has been a slow process. "I do have the couch that my friend gave me, and two chairs that he made me take. But they're not a bonus. They're chintz. I'm not sure exactly what that is, but whatever it is, it is something cats love and they shouldn't go near," says Stewart, who lives with feline roommates Stanley and Sidney.
So what exactly is the 32-year-old bachelor looking for in a chair? "Friendship," he says quickly. "I want a chair that doesn't talk back, one that will do what I want to do. If I want to lean back, it'll lean back." He pauses, considering the question only slightly more seriously. "I'm not home that often, so I really need something my cats will enjoy. I have to ask: Will this thing be around in six months? Will they be able to sit on it? When one of the cats throws up on it, will I be able to wipe it off? Do they make chairs out of Handi Wipes?"
The search continues.
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