There was a re-run of a Jon Stewart interview on Fresh Air yesterday. He said something that made me think “oh yes, I have that too.”
DAVIES: You grew up in, I guess, Lawrenceville, N.J.
STEWART: That is correct.
Ok that’s weird because I grew up very near there myself – in and near Princeton, N.J. My cousins went to Lawrenceville the school.
But that’s not it.
DAVIES: Were you a class clown? Did you have the sort of persona that made fun of everybody in a kind of playful and endearing way?
STEWART: (Laughter). Yes, I was very playful and endearing.
DAVIES: That was you.
STEWART: Yeah. People always say, you know, when did you realize you were funny? And I think it’s not that you realize you were funny. It’s that you’re brain works in a certain way.
That’s it. My brain works in that certain way too. I almost always have something facetious to say, even if I don’t say it every single time I have it. My brain works that way. The facetious thing just turns up.
And I don’t think that that’s – I think in some respects it’s uncontrollable, and you can either accept it and deal with it and hone it or you can try to fight it. And I was too weak to fight it. And so I just sort of went with it. And the big thing to learn was how to turn obnoxiousness into wit. And that was the hardest probably lesson. Obnoxiousness is what gets your butt kicked and wit is what makes people go oh, that’s endearing. And it’s trying not to get your butt kicked while still having your brain work in the way that you’re comfortable with.
Often I’m obnoxious rather than witty, and sometimes I get my butt kicked.
But I’ll tell you, I wouldn’t want my brain not to work this way. If it’s a choice between that and never getting my butt kicked? I go with the facetiously-oriented brain.