Stewart satisfies students’ appetites for laughs (Oct. 1999)

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By Jessica Zelig and Lauren Berger, Mitzpeh staff writers

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The Jewish Student Union (JSU) and Student Entertainment Events (SEE) co-sponsored an event which brought comedian and actor Jon Stewart to campus Sunday evening, Oct. 10.

JSU/SEE liaison Rena Arnon said, “We like to sponsor events like these because we like to be known as a group that supports [programs that reach different types of students on campus. We like to create an atmosphere where different groups can hold events comfortably together.”

Approximately 1,000 tickets were sold for the event according to SEE president Jen Greenhalge. The line of students and off campus visitors stretched completely around the side of Ritchie Coliseum until the doors opened up at 7:30 p.m. Security was increased fo r the show. Once in the door, people were subjected to purse and pocket searches, and had to pass through metal detectors before taking their seats.

The show began later than expected, and the crowd eagerly awaited Stewart’s arrival on stage with stomping and cheering for the comedian. Warm up comedian Jeff Caldwell opened the show before Stewart took the stage.

Stewart began the show by greeting President and Mrs. Mote, who were seated in the front row, and warning them of the strong content of his show. He later asked Mote if he had ever smoked pot, and then did an impression of Testudo. He then broke fire code rules and lit a cigarette, claiming he does this keep himself from becoming nervous.

Stewart’s act consisted of bits about his pets’ stupidity, masturbating, smoking pot, sexual relations, consuming alcoholic beverages and religious jokes.

When the audience was asked how many people were Jewish, the large crowd overwhelmingly responded with loud cheering nd clapping. Stunned, Stewart then yelled, “Sheket B’Vakasha!” Instantly, the crowd replied “HEY!”, as if they were used to doing such responsive cheers in Hebrew school and day school growing up. Stewart then said, “See, we Jews even have a secret handshake!”

Other Jewish related topics that Stewart discussed were about the Jews’ “protective headgear”. He then informed the non-Jewish members of the audience that these are called yarmulkes, not “Jew beanies.”

When the crowd was asked if they had ever been to Israel, a loud response was generated. Stewart then discussed how Israeli soldiers love when young Jewish girls come to Israel. He asserts that the soldiers wait at the airport for their young, naïve American prey, and claim that they are lonely and being sent off to war, and desperate for their “touch”.

Stewart ended the show by saying that he hopes to perform for the common man.

“My stomach hurts from laughing so hard. He was even funnier than I thought he would be,” said Erin Weiss.

When asked if being Jewish influences his comedy style, Stewart said “Well, if your style of comedy is to talk about your background, then yes.”

After the show, Stewart sat patiently and signed autographs. He talked about “Jersey” with an audience member from his hometown, he tolerated taking pictures with adoring female fans, and spoke personally with anyone that had a question.

Stewart is happy to say that his favorite thing about being Jewish is “unleavened bread.” He especially thinks that “It is lovely with a little butter and salt, or peanut butter.” He also loves Lenders bagels.

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Born in Lawrence Township, NJ, Jonathan (Stuart) Leibowitz, wanted to be a veterinarian when he grew up. Stewart attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA, and graduated with a degree in psychology. After school, Stewart worked as a bartender, before getting on stage in 1987. A club manager once told Stewart that he would never make it because there were too many Jewish comics. Stewart then dropped his last name and used his middle name instead.

In 1991, Stewart left the stage to make his debut on television. His first job was co-hosting “Short Attention Span Theatre” on Comedy Central. He then went to MTV to “You Wrote It, You Watch It,” then started “The Jon Stewart Show” in 1993. He guest appeared on “The Gary Shandling Show,” “The Nanny,” “Mr. Show,” “Space Ghost: Coast to Coast,” “Newsradio,” and “Elmopalooza.” Stewart also hosted a Cable Ace-nominated one-hour HBO comedy special, “Jon Stewart: Unleavened in 1996.”

In 1994, he got his first movie role in “Mixed Nuts.” Since then, Stewart has appeared in many films including “Wishful Thinking,” “Half-Baked,” “The Faculty,” and “Big Daddy.” Upcoming films featuring Stewart include “Playing by Heart,” and “Almost Romantic.” His voce can be heard in “The Adventures of Tom Thumb and Thumbelina.” Stewart has also written a book entitled, “Naked Pictures of Famous People,” which was on the New York Times bestseller list for a few weeks. Stewart is currently anchoring Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” a late-night news/variety series, which airs Monday-Thursday, at 11:00 p.m.

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