Jon Stewart claims David Letterman gave him his best career advice

Stewart considers the late night legend to be a mentor.
17th Annual Stand Up For Heroes Benefit Presented By Bob Woodruff Foundation And NY Comedy Festival
17th Annual Stand Up For Heroes Benefit Presented By Bob Woodruff Foundation And NY Comedy Festival / Jamie McCarthy/GettyImages

David Letterman inspired a generation of comedians. His irreverent style and unique approach to late night television effectively shaped the way that people have approached the format since the 1990s.

Jon Stewart was one of the comedians who took Letterman's approach as a blueprint, but according to the Daily Show host, Letterman provided some killer advice as well. Stewart took questions from the audience during the taping of a recent Daily Show episode, and one person asked him what the greatest piece of advice he ever got was.

Jon Stewart's first talk show was canceled

The comedian started things on a light note, pointing out that only older people get asked those kinds of questions. "Nobody ever comes to like a 22-year-old and like, ‘Best advice.’ They’re like, ‘Well, beer before liquor, never been sicker'," he joked. He then answered seriously, and revealed that David Letterman was the person who instilled the most wisdom.

Stewart recalled his first ever attempt at hosting a talk show, and how it got cancelled after only being on the air for nine months. It was devastating for the comedian at the time, but Letterman took him aside and urged him to keep trying.

He credits Letterman with encouraging him

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"David Letterman came on the final show. And on the final show, he said to me: 'Don’t confuse cancellation with failure,'" Stewart told the audience. "And I thought that was really interesting. And then in the commercial break, he said, 'Although… this is also a failure.' He just didn’t want me to confuse it." The last line elicited laughter from Stewart himself.

This is not the first time Jon Stewart has publicly talked about his first show. During another audience Q&A in April, the comedian admitted that he had lots of fun learning on the job. "We had so much fun, but it was such a different ethos," he explained. "And then I was hired to replace Arsenio, which makes total sense. So you can imagine how that went."

Obviously, Letterman's advice was heeded.

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