Jon Stewart has evolved a lot in his 17-year run on The Daily Show, which sadly ends on Thursday night when he passes the torch to Trevor Noah. But one thing has remained constant: Stewart often isn't up on his celeb guests' movies or music, and that was very apparent when Emma Bunton and Victoria Beckham, aka Baby and Posh Spice, visited The Daily Show set in 2000. The interview did not go well for Jon Stewart, and Victoria Beckham ends up boring holes into his soul. Thankfully, he's made leaps and bounds in his interviews with women since then.
Bunton and Beckham, then 24 and 26, came on The Daily Show to promote their new album, Forever. And, because Stewart clearly didn't know much about who The Spice Girls were, the interview is quite uncomfortable. Instead of talking about the legendary girl group recording the album, Stewart grills Posh and Baby about babies (at that time, Beckham had just given birth to her first son, Brooklyn) and their relationships. Boo! Baby Spice seems like she's just there to have a good time and doesn't let Stewart's sarcastic jokes get to her, but Victoria Beckham's patience was obviously in short supply that day, because after a string of awkward jokes that fall flat, she asks the audience, "Why do you laugh at him?" turning to Jon to clarify, "I don't actually think you're that funny."
Dang! I was a child of the '90s so I knew Posh Spice as the sassiest of the Spice Girls, and that's how I see her in my mind's eye. She's known now, though, more as an ice queen fashion designer, cold and always perfectly coiffed and dressed. Victoria Beckham may come off as aloof today, but I prefer to remember her as Posh, the singer from the biggest girl group in the world, who wouldn't let a talk show host get away with snide comments. And I'm sure, behind that exterior, she's the same way today.
During Beckham and Stewart's back-and-forth Baby Spice steps in as a mediator, saying, "I think I should stop this." There's something about this interview that really rubs the wrong way. Maybe it's the fact that this Jon Stewart doesn't seem anything like the Jon Stewart we know now. When Beckham says that Stewart's not funny — presumably because any super successful woman would not find humor in an interview that focuses only on her domestic life when she has a million other things to talk about, like the album she is there to promote — Stewart gets defensive. "I know in Britain, they have, you know, 'wit,'" he says (sarcastic air quotes and all). "Here in America, we just have coarse rancor."
Now, Jon Stewart is a champion of taking the news media to task for their sexist and tired treatment of women, and he seems to be showing little of that in this 2000 interview. He has come quite a long way. Even though he might not always know everything about his guests' work, his interviews with his female guests are much, much better.
In the interview Stewart says, "I swore when I started in this business, that three out of the five Spice Girls would find me funny... and when I get there, I'm out of here." I like to believe that Jon Stewart decided to quit The Daily Show after Posh sent him a text that said, "I forgive you. You are funny."