One of my favorite things about the exterior of Jon Stewart’s old Daily Show digs is a sign affixed to the entrance that reads “Abandon News, All Ye Who Enter Here.” The message, lest attendees to live tapings forget, serves as a reminder that the show they are about to view is in fact a “fake” news program that employs the cloak of satire to form its voice: This isn’t “real” news, remember, but neither is “real” news. It’s all entertainment. It’s mostly machinery.
Stewart, once dubbed a “liberal lion” by Stephen Colbert, handed over the keys to the Daily Show hooptie to Trevor Noah in September last year. At one point, Stewart said his 16-year run as Daily Show host “broke” him, though he was being sarcastic.
Before he left the show, it seemed as though Stewart, a vegetarian, would be taking a long respite from a life in the public eye, as he and his wife, Tracey, bought a 12-acre farm in New Jersey where animals could find sanctuary. Since he left the show, he’s fought (successfully) for healthcare benefits for 9/11 first responders and, not three months after he left Comedy Central, he signed a deal with HBO.
Back to the farm stuff. Recently, footage of Stewart rubbing a couple pigs’ bellies surfaced. He talks about naps and stretching and it’s just fantastic. You should watch it.
Farm Sanctuary, a NY-based animal rights organization, will reportedly be providing a few animals for their farm. “The goal of the farm,” said Tracey Stewart at a recent meeting of the Monmouth Country Agricultural Board, “is to get kids to be excited and to see where food is coming from.” The Asbury Park Press reported that the farm will house “four to six cows, two to four pigs, six to 10 sheep, six to 10 goats, two to four horses and up to 50 chickens. Between 15 and 50 caregivers, guides and educators will be employed on the property.” The Stewart farm sanctuary is slated to open in 2017.
And at a recent gala for Farm Sanctuary, a NY-based animal rights organization, Stewart, while introducing his wife, said “I’ve spent the last 20 years immersed in the world of Washington politics and the media landscape, so I don’t know how to deal necessarily with people who have empathy.”
So it seems Stewart’s still got the comedic chops, something HBO clearly knows, as the network has spoken about trying to get him on air for the 2016 elections during which Stewart would have a field day. According to HBO CEO Richard Plepler, Stewart will have “free rein to do whatever he wants.”
Last week, Stewart joined fellow bearded and retired comedian David Letterman, whose fail hair is just epic, at the USO’s 75th birthday party at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. Stewart made fun of Donald Trump and the Republican party.
“[Trump will] say whatever he kind of thinks of, whatever comes to his mind, sort of impulsive,” said Stewart. “Sometimes, you might think to yourself, ‘That sounds crazy,’ or ‘Man, that is crazy.’ And who would have thought that now, that gets you the Republican nomination.”
And over the weekend, Stewart was in conversation with Stephen Colbert for an audience at the Montclair Film Festival in New Jersey. Seems like Stewart has landed nicely—giving love to animals and “free rein” sounds quite alright to me.
Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.