Ever since he stepped down as host of The Daily Show, ceding his position to Trevor Noah, many of us have had a big, Jon Stewart-shaped hole in our hearts. Since then, he has been rather quiet (apart from bashing John Cena with a steel chair); luckily, he is about to show up on our (digital) doorsteps.
Despite losing all the color in his hair (sorry, Jon), the 54-year-old comedian and political critic has not lost his acerbic sense of humor and he plans on proving it. On Wednesday, as part of Stewart’s four-year deal with HBO signed in 2015, HBO president Casey Bloys announced Stewart will headline two stand-up specials for the premium network, as well as hosting the seventh annual Night of Too Many Stars, a sort of one-night comedy variety benefit for Next for Autism.
Before landing the The Daily Show gig in 1999, Stewart (born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz, he changed his name because it “sounded too Hollywood”) cut his teeth performing at various clubs in New York City, including the famed Comedy Cellar, where he regularly appeared in late-night sets before moving on to more television work during the 1990s. At one point, Stewart was even a finalist to replace David Letterman on NBC’s Late Night but lost out to Conan O’Brien.
The stand-up specials mark a return to HBO’s comedy section after a 21-year hiatus following 1996’s Jon Stewart: Unleavened. Although networks like Comedy Central and Netflix are now more closely associated with stand-up comedy, HBO was once a heavy hitter, with myriad famous comedians (plus then-up-and-comers who are now staples in the comedy scene) appearing on programs like One Night Stand and HBO Comedy Half-Hour.
“We’re excited to bring Jon to the network with this pair of specials,” Bloys said. “We’ve all missed his uniquely thoughtful brand of humor.”
In response, Stewart was typically tinged with humor: “I’m really thrilled to be able to return to stand-up on HBO. They’ve always set the standard for great stand-up specials. Plus, I can finally use up the last of the Saddam Hussein jokes left over from my first special.”
The Night of Too Many Stars will air live from The Theater at Madison Square Garden on November 18. The event, founded by Robert Smigel in 2010, includes sketches, stand-up comedy performances, and short films. Dates and locations for the stand-up specials are as yet unconfirmed.