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Breathe easy, Jon Stewart fans: Just because he'll soon be hosting Comedy Central's Daily Show doesn't mean his head has gotten big.

"I'm a comic. I'm a step above a guy with an organ and a monkey," says the 36-year-old funnyman, who takes over the Daily Show reins from Craig Kilborn on Mon., Jan. 11 (11 pm/ET). "I have no pretension that what I do has some import. We're just trying to be funny every day."

Stewart, who previously hosted gabfests on MTV and in syndication, is leaving behind a burgeoning film career to take the Comedy Central gig. Over the next few weeks, he'll hit theaters with the teen screamer The Faculty and the more adult Playing by Heart, in which he costars with Sean Connery, Gena Rowlands and Gillian Anderson. Isn't he worried about losing his movie momentum?

"At my present rate of two movies every 35 years, I think I'll be able to keep up with that," he says. "I don't think my filmography will suffer greatly from this. I like doing that stuff, but obviously I'm not an actor. It's not going to be a Sean Penn story, where this week I'm playing a guy on death row and next week an autistic Vietnam veteran."

While Stewart is excited to get back into the talk-show world, he's got a bit of the first-day-of-school jitters. "A lot of the show stays the same, so if it sucks, I end up being the fly in the oatmeal," he says. He won't give up without a fight, however: "Believe me, if the show starts going down, we'll introduce a baby. We'll do everything they did to keep Family Ties on the air." Susan Campbell Beachy