"Angry Optimist" explores the more private side of Jon Stewart fans might not know about. Credit: Provided
He's one of the most popular guys on TV and comes across as not only funny, but genuinely kind. But Lisa Rogak, who profiles Jon Stewart in her latest unauthorized biography, "Angry Optimist: The Life And Times of Jon Stewart" (out September 9), says the TV personality has a side to him that fans would be surprised by.
Rogak, who has written more than 40 books including biographies of President Barack Obama, Stephen King and Shel Silverstein, says Stewart could not be more different from Stephen Colbert, someone else she released a biography about. "When I was working on [the Colbert book], everyone went out of their way to say he's a gentleman and a genuinely nice man," she says. "When I was doing the research on Jon Stewart, nobody used those terms."
It should be noted that Rogak never interviewed Stewart or visited the set of "The Daily Show," but instead pulled information from many, many articles and interviews about him and talked to some people who have worked with him or knew him growing up. And while she does point out some positive traits, the shock lies in the revelation that Stewart is bitter and a hermit.
"The angst of working on the set [was exposed] a few years ago, and in a response to that, a PR person at Comedy Central contacted Bark magazine to do a story on how staff members could bring their dogs to work. It was like 'let's just stop the attention from all the angst, inner conflict and bad boss stories,'" Rogak says.
Unlike many celebrities, Stewart hasn't been lured in by the Hollywood scene and is rarely seen at red carpet events or parties. While Stewart is presumably a happy family man, Rogak has her doubts about Stewart's wife, Tracey McShane. "I found one quote where she said she was anxious all the time," Rogak reports. "[Stewart] is angry all the time, but he believes everything will turn out for the better, and a part of that is his Jewish sensibility. ... I think they both share a great, grand insecurity."
As for what she thinks is next for Stewart, Rogak predicts that it all depends on how the movie he directed, "Rosewater," is perceived. "It just seems like he is going through the motions [with 'The Daily Show'] and not taking a lot of risks like he used to," she says. "I wouldn't be surprised if he were to announce he was leaving the show." You heard it here first.