After 16 years hosting The Daily Show, Jon Stewart has piled up countless memorable moments, and not all of them were politically-focused. In the grand tradition of late-night TV, Stewart’s show became a home for talented musicians of all kinds. His interviews with people like RZA and Bruce Springsteen became the stuff of legends, and his conversations with Paula Abdul, Ad-Rock, and The Goo Goo Dolls were wacky, crazy, and unexpectedly tender. Let’s look back on some of our favorites before Stewart’s last show.
Rob Corddry told EW recently that Stewart “reads every book that comes across his desk,” and it shows in this interview with Wu-Tang Clan mastermind RZA. Stewart engages RZA on the influences behind his book The Wu-Tang Manual, from Eastern philosophy to kung-fu movies.
Back in the heyday of American Idol, Stewart asked Paula Abdul the important questions, like “isn’t America ever going to be out of talent?” As we know now, the answer is “kind of.” They then compare their experiences working in malls to prove their knowledge of “America.”
One of Stewart’s greatest interviews from his post-retirement announcement home stretch is barely even an interview at all. Stewart and Beastie Boys’ Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock) just shoot the sh-t like hilarious old friends. Stewart points out towards the end that the interview has gone over time, but we’re down to spend hours listening to these two banter.
This interview is notable for how horrified Victoria Beckham is at everything Stewart says. This was back before Stewart was a household name, and Beckham clearly regards him not as a venerated media figure but a sarcastic dude. It’s pretty fascinating to watch.
Of the two living Beatles, the under-appreciated Ringo may be the better interview, especially when you compare Daily Show appearances. When Paul McCartney came on in December, he didn’t say too much and laughed a lot. Ringo, by contrast, came in wearing an indecipherable outfit with an easygoing attitude, and openly admitted he didn’t know how many albums he’d made at this point.
It’s a safe bet that Springsteen may be Stewart’s favorite musician interview ever. Stewart is a self-acknowledged Springsteen fanboy (he gave the Boss’ induction speech at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2009), and he can barely contain himself here. By the end, he discards comedy completely and just openly thanks Springsteen for inspiring him: “I do what I do because of Bruce Springsteen. You introduced me to the concept of, you go through the tunnel, you can work to get away from your circumstance, and by working to get away from your circumstance you can work to make something better for yourself, but there’s no guarantee … But the joy of it is chasing that dream, and that was my inspiration for leaving New Jersey and going to New York. So I just wanted to thank you personally from the bottom of my heart for giving me something to put into the dashboard as I drove a U-Haul through the Holland Tunnel.” It’s really cute, not least because Springsteen is spinning in his seat the whole time like a 10-year-old who just discovered rolly chairs.