Angry Optimist is a biography on Jon Stewart, who was born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz. In high school, he was voted “Best Sense of Humors” in senior superlatives. One of his first jobs was doing a puppet show with disabled puppets for children. He decided that he needed to go to New York to pursue what he really wanted to do – stand up comedy – because all the other jobs that he was getting were just not cutting it. When an NBC slot opened for a nightly show – it came down to Jon and Conan as the host. Conan ended up getting picked and Jon ended up with a show on MTV. Then he decided to head out to Los Angeles to try his hand at acting. During that time, Craig Kilborn left his job at The Daily Show and Jon ended up getting that gig. The whole second half of the book chronicles Jon’s time hosting The Daily Show – how it was affected by September 11th, etc.
A nice biography on Jon, it was nice to read more about him as I watch his show occasionally (and have even attended a taping) but didn’t know too much about the backstory of Jon.
I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.
About the Book
Since his arrival at The Daily Show in 1999, Jon Stewart has become one of the major players in comedy as well as one of the most significant liberal voices in the media. In Angry Optimist,biographer Lisa Rogak charts his unlikely rise to stardom. She follows him from his early days growing up in New Jersey, through his years as a struggling standup comic in New York, and on to the short-lived but acclaimed The Jon Stewart Show. And she charts his humbling string of near-misses—passed over as a replacement for shows hosted by Conan O’Brien, Tom Snyder, and even the fictional Larry Sanders—before landing at a half-hour comedy show that at the time was still finding its footing amidst roiling internal drama.
Once there, Stewart transformed The Daily Show into one of the most influential news programs on television today. Drawing on interviews with current and former colleagues, Rogak reveals how things work—and sometimes don’t work—behind the scenes at The Daily Show, led by Jon Stewart, a comedian who has come to wield incredible power in American politics.