Five years ago, when the staff of "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" gathered for the first time to watch the Academy Awards together, the writers spent three hours shouting jokes at the television and lampooning the self-congratulation on display, all in the service of feeding their own show the next day. Virtually the only person they spared was the host, Steve Martin, who had impressed them with one-liners "that had some teeth to them but didn't necessarily make him an unwelcome guest at the party," recalled Ben Karlin, then Mr. Stewart's head writer. In two weeks, like a gadfly who rails against City Hall for years, only to wake up and find himself elected mayor, Mr. Stewart will stand where Mr. Martin was that night, armed with punch lines drafted in consultation with Mr. Karlin and six other "Daily Show" writers, among others. Jacques Steinberg reports.
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