South Orange Middle School students lined up eagerly in the school auditorium on Friday afternoon to ask questions of "Daily Show" head writer and executive producer David Javerbaum, who graduated from SOMS in 1985. Questions ranged from his favorite school subject to how many celebrities he knows to whether he was class clown. One boy ventured to ask how much money he makes.
"I'm lucky enough to support my family by being the sarcastic wiseass I was meant to be," said Javerbaum, a Maplewood native and 1989 graduate of Columbia High School, who became SOMS's 12th Hall of Fame inductee. He now lives in Manhattan with his wife and two daughters.
A Harvard graduate who got his master's in musical theater composition from NYU, Javerbaum joined "The Daily Show" 10 years ago as a writer and worked his way up to executive producer. The litany of accomplishments recited by student presenters includes Emmy and Peabody awards for his work on the show; a Tony nomination for co-writing the score of the 2008 musical "Cry-Baby," a musical adaptation of the John Waters film; and the impending late October release of pregnancy satire "What to Expect When You're Expected: A Fetus's Guide to the First Three Trimesters."
He was introduced by two former teachers: retired social studies teacher Roselyn Potters and Johanna Wright, who was advisor to student government when Javerbaum was president 25 years ago.
"To me, personally, David was a history teacher's dream," said Potters. "He was self-motivated and in many ways self-taught."
"Twenty-four years ago, DJ sat where you're sitting," said Wright. "He understood that the only thing he could control was how hard he was willing to work at something."
After accepting the plaque, Javerbaum attributed his decade-long tenure at "The Daily Show" to his great working relationship with Jon Stewart, who chose him as his phone-a-friend when he appeared on "Celebrity Millionaire."
"The ability to laugh on a daily basis is so good for your soul," Javerbaum said.
When asked to name his favorite teacher, he said that Wright—who's co-advisor to the MLK and "O" Ambassadors Clubs, which organize the Hall of Fame program—was certainly the most memorable.
"She taught me things about men and women that I have yet to put into practice," he said.