It’s largely forgotten now, but back in 1993 MTV gave Jon Stewart a nightly talk-show. After a relatively successful year on the cable network, it moved to syndication where it died a pretty fast death.
“The people spoke,” Stewart recently told Rolling Stone. “They felt that was something I should not be doing. They felt, in fact, that I should be locked out of the building. It also wasn’t something that I felt necessarily comfortable doing. I don’t think I’m particularly suited for it.”
Judge for yourself by watching this clip of him interviewing Conan O’Brien on a 1994 episode of the show. Conan had only been on the air for about a year at that point and was being tortured by NBC with a series of 13-week contracts. He put on a smile for MTV as he talked to Stewart about his recent visit to the White House, interacting with supermodels and the thrill of booking sitcom legends on his show like Werner Klemperer, aka Colonel Klink from Hogan’s Heroes.
For whatever reason, Stewart – whose directorial debut, Rosewater, opens nationwide on Friday – is wearing a leather jacket and looks bizarrely like Fonzie’s stunt double. Everything else about the clip is ludicrously 1990s, down to the set design and the reference to The Grind. Much like The State, The Jon Stewart show might have stuck around a few more years had it stayed on MTV. Both shows departed in ultimately doomed attempts to reach a wider audience. Fortunately, Stewart and his guest on this clip turned out OK in the end.