Given all the acclaim Jon Stewart has received during his 16 years at “The Daily Show,” it’s easy to forget that when he took over for original host Craig Kilborn that he was considered late night’s perennial bridesmaid –a comedian who had “made a career out of almost hosting other people's talk shows,” as the Times put it in 1998.
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Maybe because he’d already tried out for so many other jobs, Stewart displayed confidence right out of the gate, even making light of his runner-up status in a way that suggested he wasn’t too bothered by it. The episode itself is an enjoyable late-'90s time capsule, featuring an interview with “Spin City” star Michael J. Fox (“I’ve been on ‘The Daily Show’ more than you have,” he joked to Stewart), a report from correspondent Stephen Colbert about President Clinton’s impeachment trial and jokes about Strom Thurmond and the NBA lockout.
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It’s also a glimpse at a show in transition from the Kilborn era. Case in point: A slightly cringe-inducing segment in which correspondent Beth Littleford interviewed actors who’d played munchkins in “The Wizard of Oz.”
Here's a trip back to January 1999, a younger, more innocent time when Gwen and Gavin were still together, cellphones were a novelty and Jon Stewart was known as the guy who got stabbed in the eye in "The Faculty."
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