That Time I Scared Jon Stewart

I am a massive fan of Jon Stewart’s run on The Daily Show. I’ve been a faithful viewer all 16 years he hosted. So when the chance came up to be part of a Daily Show event, during the NH Primary in 2004, I jumped at it.

It was my first NH Primary as a working journalist. That part made it so much more fun because The Daily Show staff had invited members of the national and local press to take part of a night with Jon and his team. We met Colbert, Samatha Bee, Jason Jones and more.

We tried to get an interview with the man himself but were not able. We did, however, get a fantastic interview with Rob Corddry.

There’s one major hotel in Manchester where all the political and news action takes place. So I carried with me a cover of Entertainment Weekly (featuring Jon) on the off chance we bumped into him. All this was in 2004, before iPhones so no selfies would be happening.

In the afternoon before the event, my friend Fred and I saw Jon and Stephen Colbert entering the hotel. We spotted our chance to meet the duo but wanted to play it cool.

We followed them to the elevator (not creepy at all right?) and as they got in, we followed. Jon looked at me nervously as he could see the fanboy glow on my face. Before the elevator doors could shut, he and Colbert jumped out of the elevator after hemming and hawing.

“We, uh, we just have to uh…” Jon said as he stepped awkwardly out through the elevator doors.

As the doors shut, we saw a swarm of people crowd them and ask for autographs. Meanwhile, we rode the elevator to the top floor. You can imagine how fun the conversation was.

Feeling terrible, I decided to try and not be quite as creepy at the event that night. We were invited to the after party, and all of the Daily Show staff worked the room greeting everyone.

Eventually, Jon made his way over to us, and we got one picture with him and my girlfriend and one autograph. As we started to chat, a very large man came over (about four times Jon’s size) and carried him away. I mean picked up the small comedian and planted him down elsewhere. Jon was looking even more terrified than earlier in the elevator.

I later made things more awkward by interrupting Stephen Colbert mid sentence with my girlfriend to drag her away to something less interesting, having no clue what a horrible thing I had just done. Her parting image was of Colbert reaching after her as I pulled her away.

It was a fun night despite all of the combined social awkwardness I brought to the table.

Jon was, and will always be, the voice of my Oregon Trail generation. I will miss his tenure on the Daily Show. Though too humble to admit it, he’s made a big difference in the world.

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