Looking back on mid-1990s TV panels with younger Jon Stewart, Louis C.K.

This summer may be all about John Oliver substitute hosting The Daily Show on behalf of Jon Stewart, or about Louis C.K. racking up more individual Emmy nominations in a single year than anyone previously…but it’s Throwback Thursday.

So let’s go back in time.

A time when Jon Stewart was hosting a less-successful late-night TV talker, when Louis C.K. was a young writer on an equally not-yet-successful late-night TV talker, and when both of them took part in panels with The Paley Center for Media.

I Love 1994-1995!

Ron Simon, the Paley Center’s curator for TV and Radio, writes his own recollections of those days and nights almost two decades ago, asking: “How early on can you spot comic genius?”

So he took another look at these panel discussions, now with the benefit of hindsight, to see if the signs were there of great things to come from Stewart and from C.K. And now you can, too.

Jan. 13, 1994: Late Night with Conan O’Brien writers
Then: Head writer Robert Smigel describes Louis C.K. as “captain” of Conan’s monologue team, who then describes writing jokes for Conan.

March 15, 1995: Jon Stewart
Then: Stewart already had failed to catch on with MTV hosting a late-night gig in 1993; and now he tried syndication via Paramount. And who’s that sitting next to Stewart: HIGGINS! (That’d be Steve Higgins, future SNL producer/writer and sidekick for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, soon to be Tonight Show)

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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