When students showed up for Steinhardt assistant professor Victor Pickard’s “Intro to Media Studies” class last week, they thought they were in for a typical lecture on the media landscape.
What they didn’t expect was that a celebrity guest speaker – Jon Stewart, host of the Daily Show—was waiting for them in the wings.
Ten minutes into the lecture, Pickard announced to the class that he had a very special guest. To the students’ amazement, Jon Stewart—dressed in a “professor” costume of tweed jacket with a pipe clenched between his teeth—appeared from behind a side door and took to the lectern. The class erupted in thunderous applause and shouts.
According to Pickard, Stewart’s production company approached him about allowing Stewart to deliver a guest lecture at his 9:30 a.m. class while their cameras recorded it. They were looking for a funny video for Stewart to bring with him on his upcoming interview with Oprah Winfrey. Stewart was appearing on Oprah to talk about his new book, Earth: A Visitor’s Guide to the Human Race.
“I thought it would be a tremendous opportunity for the students,” said Pickard. “We had discussed The Daily Show’s approach to the news in our first class, and so the timing could not have been better.”
In the clip, which recently aired on the Oprah Winfrey Show, students are shocked and surprised to see Stewart walk out from behind the door. Looks of confusion about the mystery guest quickly turned into smiles of delight as they recognized the comedian.
Following some brief remarks to his stunned audience, Stewart spent forty minutes answering questions. The students, mostly freshmen and sophomores, asked him questions about how The Daily Show chooses which news to parody, who his favorite comedians are, and where he gets his news (his response: “mostly from the tickers on the tops of cabs”).
Towards the end of the lecture, Stewart announced to the class that the clip would appear on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Referring to Ms. Winfrey’s recent surprise gift to her studio audience of a trip to Australia, he paused and said, “today you’re not getting anything close to that.” Instead, the teaching assistants distributed free copies of his new book, to the thrill of the students.
WATCH a video of the event here.