Back in the day — 1993, a time when people still used the expression “back in the day” — MTV was still synonymous with music. But that perception was changing rapidly as the Clinton era got underway, thanks to the Beavis and Butt-head juggernaut and the network’s successful forays into other genres, like the pop-culture game show Remote Control and the reality series The Real World. When MTV decided to jump into the late-night wars (okay, 10 p.m.) and develop its first talk show, the network cannibalized from its inventive but lower-rated series You Wrote It, You Watch It to find its host: a 31-year-old comedian named Jon Stewart. A star was born, at least among the MTV crowd: The Jon Stewart Show quickly became the network’s second-biggest hit (after Beavis and Butt-head) and provided its floppy-haired host with a showcase for the personable brand of comedy he would later bring to The Daily Show.
Throughout its one-season run on MTV and another in syndication — it was sent packing when, in a land-grab for television real estate, MTV parent company Paramount used the show to replace The Arsenio Hall Show — Stewart’s program became known, among other things, for giving safe harbor to musical artists you’d rarely see on other late-night talk shows, such as Quicksand, Slayer, and Guided by Voices. And all too often, the beloved host presided over the festivities while wearing faded mom jeans.
To celebrate its twentieth anniversary tonight, here’s a promotional ad MTV ran for the show on October 25, 1993, in which Stewart answers the pop-culture queries of various old men as they bathed in a heated pool.