Jon Stewart, the American comic who made his name satirizing and criticizing America’s politics and its wars, has developed a program to help ex-military personnel follow their dreams of working in television, he told The New York Times (paywall).
The program, developed by Stewart’s The Daily Show over the last three years, allows a group of veterans to see the inner workings of the show during a five-week “boot camp” course, and attend a job fair at the end to help find them employment—some on The Daily Show itself. Quartz has reached out to the show and will update this post with any response.
In his “Mess O’Potamia” segments, for example, Stewart regularly ripped into the administration for its misunderstanding of international and local politics, and the confused reasoning behind its decisions.
He has also been unstinting in his criticism of others he sees a playing an inflammatory role in the conflicts of the last fifteen years. “I believe that you helped the administration take us to the most devastating mistake that we’ve made in, like, 100 years,” Stewart told Judith Miller, a New York Times reporter who published a series of “exclusives” about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that were later discredited. “But you seem lovely,” he added.
Stewart’s job-training program is in keeping, however, with the spirit of his direct interactions with soldiers and veterans who fought in those wars—as seen during his morale-boosting USO tour to Afghanistan in 2011. “I cannot tell you what an honor it is to be here to thank you all in person for all that you do,” he told troops then.
In talking about his work with veterans, Stewart stressed that the idea was a business, not a charity. “To be good in this business you have to bring in different voices from different places, and we have this wealth of experience that just wasn’t being tapped,” he told the Times. He said he’d like to see other shows adopt similar programs. “This is ready to franchise,” he said. “Please steal our idea.”
There were over 22 million veterans living in the US in 2013, according to a study by the Department of Veteran Affairs, with the majority still of working age. This number is projected to fall steadily in the coming years, but still makes up a significant chunk of the workforce.
Stewart, who is moving on from The Daily Show, to be replaced by the South African comic Trevor Noah, isn’t promising his new recruits a career free from conflict. In a long interview with the Guardian, Stewart talked about what he’ll do next, and what he thought of working in the media: “I live in a constant state of depression,” he said. “I think of us as turd miners. I put on my helmet, I go and mine turds, hopefully I don’t get turd lung disease.”