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Angry Optimist: The Life and Times of Jon Stewart

2.95 of 5 stars 2.95  ·  rating details  ·  195 ratings  ·  54 reviews
A New York Times Bestseller Since his arrival at The Daily Show in 1999, Jon Stewart has become one of the major players in comedy as well as one of the most significant liberal voices in the media. In Angry Optimist, biographer Lisa Rogak charts his unlikely rise to stardom. She follows him from his early days growing up in New Jersey, through his years as a struggling st ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 9th 2014 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published September 3rd 2014)
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Yes sir!

The list of tv things that bring me more joy than Jon Stewart ripping into someone that really really deserves it is pretty short.

If you're looking for thorough coverage of his childhood and personal life, you may disappointed. The big moments are touched upon - his father leaving, school atmosphere shaping his sense of humor, marriage to wife Tracey and birth of his children - but the majority of the book is spent on his time at The Daily Show. That's fine, that may be what some people
Matthew Ciarvella
When it comes to penning a biography about a famous person, there's always the "depth of access" question: how deep can the book go? What if the person is particularly private? A shallow book might not be the author's fault if the subject or those around him/her are not particularly forthcoming.

My feeling is that Rogak wasn't able to get too deep below the surface, which isn't really surprising considering her subject. I enjoyed her writing style and I'm looking to pick up a few more of her biog
I was disappointed, as I was hoping for a more detailed and thorough look at Stewart's life. While this was well researched and competently (if more than a little ploddingly) written, it's all old news. If you don't know Stewart's show, or are a very casual fan who hasn't read at least a couple of articles about him or The Daily Show over the last decade, I can see where it has value.

But if you have read more than a couple of such interviews, and if you are indeed one of the millions who have ma
The beginning of this biography of Jon Stewart felt like it was a high school writing assignment. Facts, no heart, fairly boring. No, not fairly boring; really boring. It stayed that way for far too long. It became more interesting once Jon Stewart became host of The Daily Show. At that point, there was more about the person, his personality, his interactions with people, some anecdotes sprinkled in.

I knew very little of Mr. Stewart although I usually enjoy The Daily Show. I still feel like I do
Alaina Crosby
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Debra Komar
I love Jon Stewart but I hated this book, and the fault lies entirely with the author (although I hesitate to apply that word to Rogak). This is the worst kind of "biography". It is clear from the first word that she has not met Jon Stewart, or even anyone who knows Jon Stewart. She sat at home, googled "Jon Stewart" and slapped together a 200 page mishmash of other people's reporting on Jon Stewart. The introduction doesn't even make sense - its just random thoughts other articles have printed ...more
Allen Adams

Celebrity biographies are usually a hit or miss proposition. If the writer manages to dig to the proper depth and really unpack what makes a famous person tick, then that perspective can lead to fascinating and compelling reading. However, if we merely skim the surface, then the end result becomes little more than a hackneyed hatchet job or back-patting propaganda.

“Angry Optimist: The Life and Times of Jon Stewart”, a biography of the comedian and host of
A lazy biography assembled from old interviews. The author has as much access to Stewart as I do, and doesn't even offer an interesting take on her subject, as if she's as bored by this book as her readers will surely be.
This review can also be found here.

This review is based on the reading of the advanced reader’s edition of this novel provided by the publisher via NetGalley. The review, in its entirety, is of my own opinion of the novel.

Since his arrival at The Daily Show in 1999, Jon Stewart has become one of the major players in comedy as well as one of the most significant liberal voices in the media. In Angry Optimist, biographer Lisa Rogak charts his unlikely rise to stardom. She follo
Fans of Jon Stewart will find this an interesting read, though it really just repeating and combining all of the interviews and and facts that have been given about Stewart throughout the years, no new or groundbreaking information.
Interesting chronology of Jon's life, but the unofficial-ness of this biography is rather obvious from the repetition of certain quotes and the lack of new interview material (or only with very peripheral people). Still, it was a quick read and nice to relive different parts of the Daily Show's history
This is essentially an unauthorized biography of Jon Stewart, which includes a lot of background on The Daily Show. I learned quite a bit of trivia about both, but the story they tell together is quite an engrossing one. Jon Stewart and The Daily Show have certainly had an outsize impact on popular culture and the engagement of young people with politics, and that's a fascinating subject to delve into more deeply. This book does a good job of balancing the humorous with the serious.
The only down
Josh Skinner
This is an easy and fun read. I have heard a few comments about there being nothing "groundbreaking" in this work. However if you are, like me, a casual fan of Stewart, then much of this work will be new ground. And it is covered well.

There were times when the book felt repetitive, even seemingly verbatum, but those times were few and far between. It was interesting to get a behind-the-scenes type look at Stewart and I found myself going to youtube quite often to see some of the episodes that we
I have to admit I have never seen The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I have seen a few snippets on morning talk shows but was never curious enough to seek out the show itself. So while reading this book everything was new for me. Author Lisa Rogak did a great job laying out Stewart's humble beginnings and reminding readers how Jon's humility affected his comedy and work ethic. His story is somewhat similar to other famous comics. Relentless energy and high intellect key elements to his success tho ...more
The writing is often not very strong in this biography and Rogak basically just culls information from already published materials—it kind of reminds me of those mass market celebrity bios that I would buy at the grocery store when I was a kid in the 70s and 80s. With that said, I haven’t read many interviews or things with Stewart, so reading this was an easy way for me to learn some things about his life and career. But if you are a real fan and already have a general sense for these things, I ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This book was a tough one. It did give me a little more background and insight into Stewart's life and background, but I thought the book suffered on a couple of points. First, it's clear that she wasn't able to interview the man himself and that makes it all feel a little second-hand, a feeling that is enhanced when you come across one of several instances where she uses the exact same quote from Stewart at wildly different times and regarding entirely different things. Second, she does a good ...more
Laura Yip
"Free time is death to the anxious."

As far as biographies go, this was a quick and easy read. Armed only with knowledge gleaned from The Daily Show, I learned a lot about the man behind the desk and was thoroughly impressed. Lisa Rogak keeps the tone light and humorous, as befitting of JStew's personality and does an exquisite job of showcasing his ability to balance the bitter rage and serenity that lingers just beneath the surface. I was quite shocked when I learned about the rigors of the Dai
Barry Wightman
At some point in the late 1970s, smart-alecky teenager Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz, flips on some New York radio station. Bruce Springsteen comes blaring out and all that passion, fire and teenage angst reaches out and touches this kid somewhere in the swamps of Jersey. “We gotta get out while we’re young…someday girl, I don’t know when gonna get to that place where we really wanna to go and we’ll walk in the sun….”

Made an impression on the kid.

Decades later, famous and fabulously successful TV s

The life and times of Jon Stewart are more than the last fifteen years of helming The Daily Show with Jon Stewart as author Lisa Rogak writes. The unlikely rise of the short wise-cracking Jewish kid from Jersey rising to become one of the most influential, and comedic, voices of political commentary is a told expertly and without bias.

Given Stewart’s impact the last fifteen years, Rogak could have easily just given a brief synopsis of his life prior to January 1999 in
I like Stuart...but this was a poor book. Basically, I learned Stuart grew up outside of Princeton in NJ. He went to William and Mary on a soccer scholarship. He grew up an outsider with a lot of psycho-babble from the author. He did a lot odd jobs and then he decided at 24 to do Standup comedy. Finally started to have success. Got a show on MTV called the John Stuart show. Then became the 2nd choice for other late night shows before landing the Daily Show.
Interesting to gain insight into Jon Stewart. I hope he someday writes an autobiography, this didn't seem to get the whole picture. I think coupled with the interviews he has done on Fresh Air and some of his other appearances it gives a decent picture of how and why the Daily Show evolved and the impact it may be having on journalism.

Also, overuse of the phrase "at the same time." Seriously, it seemed to appear once a page.
Lisa Rogak's narrative is one hot mess.

Jon Stewart's life is truly fascinating, and we do get some insight into the man himself. But Rogak brings nothing to the story other than repeating the same anecdotes over and over. That and her overuse of bracketed materials are distracting. The book needed a much sterner editor than it had; maybe reduced to 100 pages, it would have been a better read.


I enjoyed learning about Jon Stewart's early career and the evolution of The Daily Show. Nothing stunning or groundbreaking here -- I would say this one's primarily for fans, especially those who don't mind the same quotes and anecdotes repeated a few times and some weird jumps in chronology. The major disappointment was that many brilliant masters of comedy writing were interviewed for this book but all the quotes from them that got included were completely mundane.
Still have my crush on Jon Stewart after reading this biography, but also learned that he is basically me if I were funny and successful, so that was interesting. As far as the book itself goes, I feel that Lisa Rogak should learn some synonyms for the word "admitted," because there were sections where people admitted things on every single page for several pages in a row. I had a lot of déjà vu, too, because the timeline skipped back and forth; in at least 3-5 places Rogak reused quotes from ea ...more
I haven't read many other biographies of modern people, but I was disappointed that the author obviously never spent time with Jon Stewart. Evidently, she just read articles about him and created the "biography." Great way for her to make money off a famous person. Disappointing and flat.
Murray Johnson
An okay biography. The beginning was the most interesting, when he was college soccer player and his start doing stand-up in New York, but all the Daily Show information wasn't too revealing other than it's a grind doing a four times a week comedy show 9-10 months out of the year.
Skip it.

This is another book my husband brought home from the library for me. I don't like Jon Stewart. I don't like speed reading. I think of it as skimming. That's what I did with this book and it was just fine for this book. Terrible book.
I got bored half way through this book. Jon has had an interesting career, but I wanted to read about more than just his career. I didn't learn much about him as a person and found this book to be a disappointment.
Maggie Meredith
There were a few interesting things in this book, like how the Daily Show is put together, the history of the show and Stewart's career path, but overall, it seemed a little repetitive and not very insightful.
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Lisa Rogak is the New York Times bestselling author of over 40 books on a wide variety of topics, from writers and their cats to sabbaticals to cemeteries in New England.
Through the years, in addition to writing books on an almost-schizophrenic range of topics, she has published newsletters and books, started a greeting card company for dogs and cats, bought and sold vintage funeral equipment, and
More about Lisa Rogak...
Haunted Heart: The Life and Times of Stephen King The dogs of war A Boy Named Shel: The Life and Times of Shel Silverstein And Nothing But the Truthiness: The Rise (and Further Rise) of Stephen Colbert The Man Behind the Da Vinci Code: The Unauthorized Biography of Dan Brown

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