Jon Stewart has always come across as a sensible guy when talking about race issues. In the wake of the Charleston horror, it was Stewart and Barack Obama who gave the most impressive, poignant commentary. But no one’s perfect.
Comedian Wyatt Cenac sat down with Marc Maron for this week’s WTF Podcast. Cenac, a former writer for the Daily Show, recalled when Stewart blew up at him during a meeting because he pressed him for a racially insensitive joke.
Cenac, who was the only black writer at the time he worked there, felt uncomfortable when Stewart did a short skit poking fun at presidential candidate Herman Cain. The joke reminded him of Kingfish, a racially offensive character from the ’50s show Amos ‘n’ Andy. Stewart didn’t take the criticism well, according to a Vulture‘s transcript of the interview.
[Stewart] got incredibly defensive. I remember he was like, What are you trying to say? There’s a tone in your voice. I was like, “There’s no tone. It bothered me. It sounded like Kingfish.” And then he got upset. And he stood up and he was just like, “F**k off. I’m done with you.” And he just started screaming that to me. And he screamed it a few times. “F**k off! I’m done with you.” And he stormed out. And I didn’t know if I had been fired.
Their relationship never quite recovered. Cenac told Maron that his relationship with Stewart always felt like a boss to employee gig rather than a two-way relationship. This blowup was particularly stressing, though.
I was shaking, and I just sat there by myself on the bleachers and f**king cried. And it’s a sad thing. That’s how I feel. That’s how I feel in this job. I feel alone.
The entire conversation, which also touches on the concept of keeping it real as the lone black person in a office, can be listened to here. The revelation probably won’t ruin Stewart’s legacy, but as he tries to ride into the sunset for his final show (Aug. 6), this is definitely a notable blotch.
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