A Brief History of Jon Stewart’s Side Projects

This week marks the release of Rosewater, Jon Stewart’s flawed but interesting feature filmmaking debut. As a serious-minded political thriller, it’s a bit of a departure for Stewart, who is primarily known as a talk-show host and stand-up comic — but his CV is more diverse than you might think. We took a look back at a few of his lesser-known (or, in some cases, all but forgotten) side projects.

Caroline’s Comedy Hour / The Sweet Life / Short Attention Span Theater

Stewart’s first TV gigs, landed when he was still a struggling young stand-up comic, were not as a host or performer, but a lowly writer. A&E’s Caroline’s Comedy Hour, a stand-up showcase taped at NYC’s famed comedy club, was a favorite for all of us late-‘80s comedy nerds (you know who you are); Stewart got his first credits as head writer for that program, which presumably meant penning the intros and host patter and the like. From there, he got a writing job on The Sweet Life, a sketch and talk show starring singer Rachel Sweet. It aired on The Comedy Channel, one of two cable networks that launched simultaneously in 1989 with all-comedy formats. A year later, the two channels merged to form Comedy Central (which would later play a key role in Stewart’s career); before that happened, Stewart made his first on-camera appearances, first in Sweet Life sketches and then as host of the compilation show Short Attention Span Theater (which would make the transition to Comedy Central).