February 1, 2001

Students for Stewart

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Jon Stewart, stand-up comedian and host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, is coming to Cornell in less than two weeks, and students all over campus are talking about it.

“He’s hilarious,” “scandalously ironic,” “a wild sensation,” and “a lot of girls think he’s hot,” said a number of students waiting in line on Monday for tickets to see Stewart perform his comedy act live on Feb. 10 in Bailey Hall.

Tickets went on sale at 9 a.m. for $15 each and were sold out in less than five hours.

“We were surprised that the tickets sold out so quickly,” said Joe Scaffido, assistant dean of students for student activities. “We thought this would be big, but we had no idea.”

Adrienne Martinez ’01, ticket office manager at Willard Straight Hall, compared the sell-out to the time Adam Sandler came to Cornell three years ago.

“There was a steady line that people said went as far as Uris Library at one point,” Martinez said of the recent ticket sale. “Students were even missing their classes to get tickets.”

Students could only buy two tickets at a time in an effort to discourage missing classes, Scaffido said. He noted, however, that this measure did not prevent many Cornellians from standing in line anyway for the chance to see Stewart in person.

“This kind of excitement is what a college campus is all about. It’s kind of neat to see such enthusiasm on top of all the stress that comes with school,” Scaffido said.

To the dismay of many, ticket supplies were exhausted before the line disappeared, and students went away empty-handed. Following the sale, there were a number of complaints from community members about the University’s policy to give students two days to purchase tickets before they go on sale to the general public.

However, the rule is a long-standing policy established by the Student Assembly, explained President Uzo Asonye ’02.

“While I think tickets should be open to the entire Cornell community, students should have the first dibs, because they are partly paying for them with the Student Activity Fee,” he said.

The performances are primarily for students, added Allison Bernstein ’03, selection chair for the Cornell University Program Board (CUPB). CUPB is the student committee responsible for bringing Stewart and other speakers to Cornell.

“We try to make the tickets as cheap as possible,” Bernstein said, explaining that the tickets are worth significantly more than their face value, and that most of the money is subsidizied from CUPB and the Student Activity Fee.

Drawing Stewart to Cornell was tough, Scaffido said, explaining that Stewart turned down CUPB’s offer twice and came back each time asking for more money. Then, after refusing the second offer, Stewart changed his mind and promised to come.

“We sort of had the feeling that we got him just before his latest peak,” said Scaffido, noting that Stewart appeared on the celebrity version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and was featured in Rolling Stone magazine last fall.

Stewart took over as anchor of The Daily Show, Comedy Central’s nightly news program, in January 1999.

On the popular TV show, “Stewart, day in and day out, offers an unorthodox view on topics tackled by nightly national news,” said Ryan Plasky ’03 and Craig Goldman ’03 of The Cornell Lunatic.

Stewart first caught national attention as host of HBO’s critically-acclaimed series-within-a-series, The Larry Sanders Show, which ran from 1994 to 1995.

A New Jersey native and an alumnus of the College of William and Mary, Stewart is also known in book and film. He wrote, Naked Pictures of Famous People (Rob Weisbach Books), described by reviewers as “a humorous collection of Woody Allen-esque what-if essays.”

On the film front, Stewart recently starred with Adam Sandler in Big Daddy. He also played leading roles in the romantic drama Playing By Heart opposite Gillian Anderson andThe Faculty, a horror-comedy directed by Roberts Rodriguez.

Jim Jazwiecki ’01, editor-in-chief of The Cornell Lunatic, described Stewart as “a politically astute liberal” and “a shorter, funnier, Jewish, non-South African, F.W. de Clerk.”

“I’m excited that he’s coming to campus,” Jazwiecki said. “He’s insightful enough to entertain people and to make the bitter political pill go down sweet.”

Archived article by Jennifer Roberts