Dialogue: Jon Stewart

Comedian Jon Stewart offers up some one-liners about his new role as Oscar host.

Boldly going where the likes of Billy Crystal, David Letterman, Steve Martin and Chris Rock have gone before -- with varying degrees of success -- Jon Stewart will be stepping up to the podium as the Oscar telecast's newest emcee Sunday night. While he is no stranger to the awards-show beat (having previously hosted the Grammys, among others), the host of Comedy Central's multiple Emmy- and Peabody-winning "The Daily Show" is still very much aware of the pressures that come with piloting the biggest kudofest on the planet. The author of the New York Times best-seller "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Presents America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction" -- not to mention the host of 1998's "Elmopalooza!" compilation video -- shared recently his Oscar-night aspirations with Michael Rechtshaffen for The Hollywood Reporter.

The Hollywood Reporter:

This is your first time at the Oscar podium, but you've hosted other award shows in the past. Jon Stewart:
Yes, the All-Americans Soccer Banquet.

THR:
Are you nervous?
Stewart:
No.

THR:
Then are you confident?
Stewart:
Uh, no. But I just had a baby, and Dick Cheney shot a dude in the face, so it's very hard to concentrate right now. There's a lot going on.

THR:
Have you sought any advice from previous hosts such as Chris Rock or David Letterman?
Stewart:
Yeah, I've spoken actually with a few guys. They've been all real cool about talking about their experiences. The main thing (to remember) is, (if) worse comes to worse, that gift basket goes for huge money on eBay. So if this thing's going to ruin your career in Hollywood, you can probably live off that.

THR:
Rock admittedly ruffled some feathers last year. Do you look at something like that and wonder if there may be a line at the Oscars that shouldn't be crossed?
Stewart:
Honestly, all you can do is what you think is funny. Sure, there's a line. But everybody's got a different one, and the last thing you need to be doing is thinking about whose line goes where. The thing about Chris, you know, people say things like, "Oh, he's so unpredictable! He's probably going to go out there and curse." You know, as if we're crazy people! Really, you just do the best you can.

THR:
Obviously, you're going to bring your own style of comedy into it.
Stewart: Yes. It's going to be all Latin infinitives. I'm going to do something I haven't seen at the Oscars in a long time: eight minutes of just conjugation.

THR:
That should do wonders for the ratings.
Stewart:
Why not?

THR:
Will you be able to bring along your "Daily Show" writers, or are you obligated to go with resident Oscar writer Bruce Vilanch?
Stewart:
I'll be able to bring along some of them. There are probably two separate things that they do. There's the writing that we'll do, and then there's the writing that they have a regular crew for, like presenter introductions.

THR:
Are you planning on taking a cue from Billy Crystal and doing any singing or dancing? Stewart: You know, people regard me as a triple threat. I'm a triple threat in that I really, really, really can't sing. As a favor to the Academy (of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) and America, that won't be happening.

THR:
We've seen in the past how hosting the Oscars has served as a stepping stone to other things, like successful one-man shows. Are you looking at the gig as a major career move? Stewart: I'm hoping the Oscars will propel me to "Half Baked 2," which should be a sequel, of course, to my famed cameo in (1998's) "Half Baked." Or perhaps a sequel to (2002's) "Death to Smoochy," but this time, Smoochy lives. The nice thing for me is, I'll be out there with nothing on the line in terms of my film career -- it's sort of like going into a poker tournament with really nothing to lose because I really don't have any chips.

THR: Oscar producer Gil Cates says you're the epitome of a perfect host. What did he see in you for the job?
Stewart:
He saw someone who'd work for scale, who would do it no questions asked. You'd have to ask him, but as far as I know, he didn't see a whole lot.
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