ANS/Jon Stewart

By Laurel Sutton

December 20, 2004

Did you know?

“Jon Stewart — The name of this extremely popular comedian illuminates some of the contradictions of American culture in 2004.  A comic who makes frequent reference to his Jewish ancestry in his humor, Jon Stewart was born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz in 1962.  He legally changed his name to Jon Stewart, his stage name, in 2001, and has joked that he “first changed my name from Leibowitz to Feinberg, but that struck me as the same.”  The paradox here is that American popular culture accepts Jewish ancestry and identification as being “cool,” but it is still apparently not “cool” to have a Jewish-identified surname.   By changing the spelling of his middle name when he made it his surname, Stewart also moved to a somewhat more “WASP” identified form, reinforcing the idea that only an assimilated and self-deprecating form of Jewishness is acceptable.  And the final paradox of the name “Jon Stewart” is how a fairly bland and ordinary name has been given a new “hip” and irreverent meaning by Jon Stewart’s great success as host of the satirical television program The Daily Show.” – Voting Ballot for ANS’s Name of the Year

The other candidates are:

Fahrenheit 9/11
Al-Quaida (in its various spellings)
Nevaeh (a woman’s name – Heaven spelled backwards)

I love you, Jon, but I’m voting for Michael Moore. He made this name part of the vernacular.

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