Jon Stewart Looks Back on the First ‘Daily Show’ Episode After 9/11
Today Entertainment Weekly published an excerpt from the new Daily Show oral history The Daily Show (The Book): An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and Guests, where Jon Stewart and various Daily Show staffers reflect on the show’s first post-9/11 episode back in 2001. Here’s Stewart looking back on his first day back in the Daily Show office on September 20th:
Comedians process our emotions through this peculiar refinery of whatever puns you could come up with that day. You remove that, and it’s as though there’s a narcotic on the digestive system. You’re blocked, it’s building up, and you don’t know what to do.
I knew that for me, personally, I would have to express…I would have to use the process that I’ve used to process pain, and discontent, and happiness, and everything else, but in a way that was somewhat anathema to how I would normally approach it. It just had to be direct and I was going to have to do it without my crutches.
It’s very hard for me to write without knowing, “Okay, I’m going to get to perform it now.” I generally can’t take myself to a place without knowing what the finish line is. It has to be timed right, because otherwise I will lose my inertia. If I don’t time it right it’ll be there and then it’ll be gone, and I’ll f— it up, I’ll ruin it by overwriting it.
That day, September 20, when we were doing our first show after 9/11, was basically me in my office just pacing and jotting stuff down.
Here’s Stewart on what it felt like after the taping of the episode:
Afterward I had to walk away from the desk, and I went into the back room and I just bawled. I was just…I was done. It had been an incredibly emotional experience. We all knew people who had been down there and had lost people. It was just the act of getting it out, but it’s not like that was the healing, that was just the…it honestly felt like that was, “Great, I’ve now vomited it up, but I’m still nauseous, and exhausted.” That first show was not a statement of what we were going to do. It was a necessary draining of an abscess to even become ambulatory.
Check out the rest of the excerpt over at Entertainment Weekly, and watch a clip of his post-9/11 monologue below: