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MTV's Short-Lived 'The Jon Stewart Show' Was a Vital Platform for Controversial Musicians

The program hosted subversive artists including Sinéad O'Connor, Body Count and Marilyn Manson.

Jon Stewart
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MTV's 'The Jon Stewart Show' existed for less than two years but is still remembered to this day.

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Jon Stewart may be best known for his scathing political commentary, but in the early days of his television career the comedian's self-titled MTV program was an important platform for many subversive musicians.

Comedy Central just announced that Stewart will return to his post at The Daily Show next month. His first episode back is scheduled to air on Monday, Feb. 12. Stewart will also be the show's executive producer going forward.

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Jon Stewart
Source: MEGA

The program hosted subversive artists including Sinéad O'Connor, Body Count and Marilyn Manson.

He left the program in 2015 following a 16-year stint and was replaced by Trevor Noah, who's slated to host the Grammys on Feb. 4. The late night show struggled during Noah's tenure and has been without a permanent host since he departed in 2022.

Stewart was relatively unknown before he was tapped to host the The Jon Stewart Show, which aired between 1993 and 1995. Although the program lasted less than two years, many viewers remember it fondly.

The show hosted a wide array of musicians. There were punk bands like Quicksand, Bad Religion and Sunny Day Real Estate; hard rock and metal groups like Danzig, White Zombie and Megadeth; and rap acts like Notorious B.I.G., Naughty by Nature and Ol' Dirty Bastard.

Stewart even brought on Sinéad O'Connor in November 2, 1994, just two years after she roiled scores of TV executives with her affront of the Catholic Church on Saturday Night Live. The singer performed "Thank You For Hearing Me."

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The following week, Ice-T's crossover thrash band Body Count performed its tracks "Necessary Evil" and "Born Dead" on the show. The lyrics for both are broad critiques of the U.S. government and mainstream American society. Ice-T also sat down for an interview with Stewart.

“I want to thank you for keeping alternative and hip hop and hardcore alive on TV," Ice-T said at the end of their conversation.

"There’s gotta be a place for it," the host replied.

The show's final episode aired on June 23, 1995, just one day after a particularly raucous performance from Marilyn Manson.

The shock jock and his band played "Lunchbox" and "Dope Hat" from their debut album Portrait of an American Family. Manson burned a bible during the set, which drew the ire of conservative Christians nationwide. He ended the performance by jumping onto Stewart for a piggyback ride.

"I really thought somebody was going to be killed that week," the comedian said in his 2014 autobiography Angry Optimist: The Life and Times of Jon Stewart.

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Jon Stewart
Source: MEGA

Stewart will return to his post at Comedy Central's 'The Daily Show' next month.

The show may have been canceled, but Stewart's brutal honesty and confrontational attitude were not.

His critiques of former President George W. Bush and the Republicans were at the core of liberal American politics throughout the 2000s. But former President Barack Obama and establishment Democrats didn't get a free pass from Stewart when they came to power in 2008.

After nearly two decades with The Daily Show, Stewart announced he was leaving the program in August 2015 to spend more time with his family.

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His commentary was sorely missed during the Trump era, which is why Apple TV debuted his latest show The Problem with Jon Stewart in 2021. The program was canceled last year due to creative differences.

Comedy Central's parent company Paramount, which also owns MTV, is happy to have Stewart back.

"We are honored to have him return to Comedy Central’s 'The Daily Show' to help us all make sense of the insanity and division roiling the country," said Chris McCarthy, the chief executive of Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios. "In our age of staggering hypocrisy and performative politics, Jon is the perfect person to puncture the empty rhetoric and provide much-needed clarity with his brilliant wit."


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