"A buckeye is a gay acorn, right?" Stewart asked about 12,000 people gathered at Value City Arena.
The popular news parody is gearing up for a week of broadcasts from Ohio for its "Midwest Midterm Midtacular." The appearance — not planned for broadcast — was added after spaces for the four nights of tapings at the university's more intimate Roy Bowen Theatre filled up.
"How better to spend a Saturday night than at a moderated forum," Stewart quipped.
He had said the excursion was the show's fifth trip outside New York in 10 years, but its first to "a random zone" outside a big city on the East or West Coast.
"We wanted to go there because Ohio was so crucial last time. They were sort of the focal point, the swing state, if you will," he told The Associated Press in an interview Friday. "We want to know what happened to all that loving attention that they were given in 2004, and if they feel lonely."
On Saturday, Stewart and the crew, including correspondents Jason Jones and Samantha Bee, showed clips from the show and answered questions provided in advance.
They also peppered students with questions about college life, including whether pets and methamphetamine labs were allowed on campus. At one point, Stewart said there was going to be a party in his dorm room later that night, drawing cheers from the crowd.
The topic turned to politics, with Stewart being asked if he would be disappointed when President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld left office and no longer provided fodder for the comedian's act.
"No," he said bluntly, then launched into his impression of Cheney.
Stewart previously said many of the big-name politicians the show approached — including U.S. Sens. George Voinovich and Mike DeWine, Gov. Bob Taft and gubernatorial candidates Ted Strickland and Ken Blackwell — declined to participate in the excursion.
Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James was to be the featured guest Monday at the first of the "Daily Show" tapings.