Jon Stewart 

'The Daily Show' host hits Cobb Centre May 10

Despite the popularity of "The Daily Show" and his 2004 book, America (The Book), as well as the excitement of the presidential campaign, Jon Stewart still likes to take his act on the road from time to time to sharpen his stand-up chops. Stewart will perform two shows (7:30 and 10 p.m.) Saturday, May 10, at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.

Talk a little bit about the setup for the live appearances. What can we expect on stage? Is it kind of straightforward stand-up?

Straight-up AC/DC. You know what I'm talkin' about. Smudge pots. We're talking about a harness that carries me out over the audience ... spark showers. That sort of thing. Nah, yeah, it's a pretty straightforward stool and water. Typically the venue will decide how big a towel they believe I will need to wipe my sweating face. But other than that ...

What was the best thing about getting back on the air before the strike was over, and what was the most challenging part of that?

So much of that wasn't about the show or the content, but about the emotional atmosphere around it. It wasn't one of those things like, "Oh, the election's coming, we've gotta jump in there." It was more that you have so many constituencies to try and juggle and serve. The only thing about it was that it took away the limbo for the other people. At that time, for the people who were not involved, the below-the-line people, for the people who didn't have a dog in the fight, it gave them a place to put their minds. So maybe in that essence, that was probably the most positive thing.

What is the key to striking the balance between serious and satire on the show?

I wish we had a meter, and I wish I knew what the recipe was, but it's a feel. The really fragile part of the show is the comedy. Comedy is so much more fragile than commentary. And that's the part that we really love ... Listen, I walked out of the Chris Matthews interview going, "Hey dude, I'm sorry. I wasn't trying to be mean." I don't know, I read that thing today and it just seemed like not a great message to send to people.

I thought that was a great exchange, actually, because it seemed like he was kind of taken aback at being challenged.

I think that's right. But the intention was not to upset; it was just to express. If I could say there's one thing we're trying to do is in five minutes get an unguarded moment ... It's that same thing like a band trying to write hits. I think if you try and write them, all you can do is get in touch with some kind of truth. I don't mean the truth about the situation, I mean truth in the sense of, yeah, that feels right. That feels like a funny joke.

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