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The Daily Show (The Book)
An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and Guests
Foreword by Jon Stewart
By Chris Smith
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For almost seventeen years, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart brilliantly redefined the borders between television comedy, political satire, and opinionated news coverage. It launched the careers of some of today’s most significant comedians, highlighted the hypocrisies of the powerful, and garnered 23 Emmys. Now the show’s behind-the-scenes gags, controversies, and camaraderie will be chronicled by the players themselves, from legendary host Jon Stewart to the star cast members and writers-including Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Steve Carell, Lewis Black, Jessica Williams, John Hodgman, and Larry Wilmore-plus some of The Daily Show‘s most prominent guests and adversaries: John and Cindy McCain, Glenn Beck, Tucker Carlson, and many more.
This oral history takes the reader behind the curtain for all the show’s highlights, from its origins as Comedy Central’s underdog late-night program hosted by Craig Kilborn to Jon Stewart’s long reign to Trevor Noah’s succession, rising from a scrappy jester in the 24-hour political news cycle to become part of the beating heart of politics-a trusted source for not only comedy but also commentary, with a reputation for calling bullshit and an ability to effect real change in the world.
Through years of incisive election coverage, Jon Stewart’s emotional monologue in the wake of 9/11, his infamous confrontation on Crossfire, passionate debates with President Obama and Hillary Clinton, feuds with Bill O’Reilly and Fox, the Indecisions, Mess O’Potamia, and provocative takes on Wall Street and racism, The Daily Show has been a cultural touchstone. Now, for the first time, the people behind the show’s seminal moments come together to share their memories of the last-minute rewrites, improvisations, pranks, romances, blow-ups, and moments of Zen both on and off the set of one of America’s most groundbreaking shows.
Introduction to the Beginning
The daily show.
That's what was scribbled on the Comedy Central schedule grid, in the 11 p.m. slot, for months, as a placeholder, in 1995. What exactly would happen in that half hour of programming? No one really knew. Except that it would happen… daily.
Comedy Central itself was still a sketchy proposition at the time. In 1989, Time Warner, owner of HBO, had launched the Comedy Channel, the first cable channel devoted solely to comedy-based programming. Five months later Viacom, owner of MTV, had launched a competitor, Ha! The Comedy Channel featured a mix of quirky original shows and clips from standup comics; its signature creation was Mystery Science Theater 3000. Ha! countered with some low-budget original shows plus a wealth of reruns, including full episodes from Saturday Night Live's middle years.
The Gulf War, beginning in August 1990, was a breakthrough for cable news, with CNN showing there was a large audience for round-the-clock coverage, even though the big three networks still dominated the nightly ratings. Further up the dial, Ha! and the Comedy Channel merged, reemerging as Comedy Central in April 1991. And in a bar in Manhattan, a comedian on a blind date had an insight that would eventually help connect those wildly disparate developments.
"I was at a sports bar, and all the TVs were turned to the war instead of sports," Lizz Winstead says. "CNN had replaced their fancy reporters with young people, and they were on roofs, and there was green, and there was a theme song and all this shit. And I just thought, 'Are they reporting on the war, or trying to sell me a war?' Then the guy I was with said, 'This is really cool,' and I was like, 'Oh my God, I might be on to something.'"
The blind date didn't lead anywhere, but Winstead's brainstorm eventually did. In 1995, Bill Maher announced that he and Politically Incorrect would be jumping from Comedy Central to ABC after the following year's elections. To replace PI at 11 p.m., Doug Herzog, Comedy Central's new president, wanted a topical show that would brand the network and appeal to young male viewers. The model he kept in mind was ESPN's SportsCenter.
To develop the show, Herzog recruited Madeleine Smithberg, who had been a producer at Late Night with David Letterman. The thirty-six-year-old New Yorker had also been in charge of a quirky talk show that ran on MTV in 1993 before being syndicated by Paramount, which then used it, for one season, as a replacement for the canceled Arsenio Hall Show.
Smithberg hired, as the head writer for the new Comedy Central show, a comedian who lived upstairs in her Chelsea apartment building—Lizz Winstead. Smithberg had hired Winstead to work on the old MTV show, and the pair had been talking to Comedy Central about a new idea, a satire of a failing cable network. Herzog steered Smithberg toward the nameless late-night show instead. She and Winstead, a thirty-four-year-old Minnesota native, worked through ideas for nearly a year, settling on a news parody format. "Madeleine was the brains and the structure," Winstead says. "She really knew how to run a show. And I was the person who knew a lot about politics and a lot about humor. I thought we should make the show itself a character. And we needed to differentiate ourselves from 'Weekend Update.' So we would operate like a newsroom, but be a comedy show."
Herzog's first choice to host the fledgling show was Craig Kilborn, who had built a following as a smart-ass talking head on SportsCenter. "He was sort of doing his bad version of Dennis Miller, who was a hot guy at the time," Herzog says. "Craig met with me, and Lizz, and Madeleine, and Eileen Katz [Comedy Central's head of programming at the time]. And I thought in the first five minutes that they were going to strangle him. The first thing Craig said was, 'Some of you guys worked at MTV?' And Eileen and I had come from there originally. 'Yes, why?'
"Craig goes, 'You know Downtown Julie Brown?' We go, 'Yeah, sure.' He goes, 'Because I love brown sugar.'
"That's how the meeting started. Craig actually managed to bring it all the way around, and by the time the meeting was over they were like, 'That's our guy.'"
Writers were hired—J. R. Havlan, Tom Johnson, Ray James, Kent Jones, and Guy Nicolucci—as were the first batch of "correspondents": A. Whitney Brown, Beth Littleford, and Brian Unger, plus Winstead. Lewis Black, a dyspeptic standup, came on as an Andy Rooney–type commentator who would deliver rants pegged to wacky news video clips. But as the program's debut date closed in, no one could come up with a suitable name. Until one day Smithberg called Herzog: "Why don't we just call it The Daily Show?"
It premiered on July 22, 1996, at 11:30 p.m. The format loosely tracked that of a conventional newscast: five or so opening minutes called "Headlines," read by Kilborn from the anchor desk, followed by "Other News," then usually a pretaped "field piece" with one of the correspondents, and finishing up with Kilborn interviewing an actor or a musician promoting their new movie or TV show or album.
Some segments played off the hard news of the day, like the presidential contest between Bob Dole and Bill Clinton. "There was more of a pop-culture-and-lifestyle component only because what we were satirizing—particularly local news—was doing a lot of that stuff," Winstead says. "We would make fun of the conventions of news. Like when TV reporters talk, how do you create drama in a story that doesn't exist? Brian Unger, who had been a producer at CBS News, invented what it means to be a Daily Show correspondent."
Yet the tone of Kilborn's Daily Show could be mean-spirited. A headline called "Operation Desert Shield Me from Impeachment" included a joke that investigators were having trouble analyzing the stain on Monica Lewinsky's dress because it was mixed with "liver-flavored Alpo." Field pieces often centered on true believers in UFOs and aliens.
The day-to-day creative process of the first few years of The Daily Show centered on Smithberg, Winstead, and the writing staff, which now included Paul Mecurio, Jim Earl, and Steve Rosenfield. "My first day on the job," Winstead says, "I have to pull the writers into my office and say, 'Guys, you can't have your mushroom dealer come up to the office.'" Kilborn came up with the signature "Five Questions" conceit for guest interviews, but otherwise largely read from the script.
In November 1996, after Bill Maher's exit, Comedy Central's executives moved The Daily Show to 11 p.m. in part to counterprogram the late local news—and in part because they knew their low-budget operation had no real hope of competing with the late-night mainstream comedy powerhouses. The war between David Letterman and Jay Leno to succeed Johnny Carson at the helm of The Tonight Show had been national front-page news in 1992 and 1993, and Comedy Central was available in fewer than half of American households. Leno took over the flagship NBC show, but Letterman's new Late Show on CBS was scoring high ratings, too. Each attracted around six million viewers per night. Kilborn's Daily Show would peak at a nightly average of 357,000.
Yet Kilborn's audience was growing and the show was generating critical buzz, helped by the addition of correspondents Mo Rocca and Stephen Colbert. Perhaps more important than the chatter was the fact that the Daily Show audience was indeed reaching the younger male viewers Herzog had targeted in the first place. The combination caught Letterman's eye, and in 1998 CBS offered Kilborn its 12:30 a.m. Late Late Show slot.
"He starts to get a little heat, we're starting to get a little attention with The Daily Show," Herzog says, "and then the next thing you know Kilborn goes and signs with CBS without even telling us."
Panic, followed by auditions: David Alan Grier, Michael McKean, Greg Proops, Bill Weir, and Mike Rowe came to the Daily Show studio and sat in the host's chair. Littleford and Colbert got tryouts, too. But Herzog and other Comedy Central executives wondered about a guy who had hosted the short-lived MTV talk show produced by Smithberg, a black-leather-jacket-wearing standup comic. He had lost out to Conan O'Brien as Letterman's NBC replacement; he had written a book of satirical essays; he had played Eve Harrington to Garry Shandling's Margo Channing on The Larry Sanders Show; and lately he'd had some supporting roles in Hollywood romcoms. Herzog didn't think the highly regarded, slightly adrift comedian would be interested in the Daily Show job. But hey, what did he have to lose in buying lunch for Jon Stewart?
This Just In
JON STEWART, The Daily Show host, 1999–2015
At the time, I was obviously making my mark in such films as Wishful Thinking and Dancing with Architecture, or Dancing About… Oh, no. They ended up calling it something else. Playing by Heart, I think it was.
JAMES DIXON, manager for Jon Stewart, 1987–
After The Jon Stewart Show was canceled by Paramount, he was… not burnt on being on TV, but he wanted to kind of wet his feet with film. We had this nice deal with Harvey Weinstein, and Jon was down in Tribeca and he's getting to kiss Angelina Jolie in films.
Getting fired from Paramount was the real turning point for me. Because I thought that after appearing on Letterman, now I'm a made man. And the Paramount thing, I thought losing it meant I was an unmade man. I realized you still have to make your act better. The goal is to produce, the goal is to make things.
So I spent some time writing and performing on The Larry Sanders Show, and I learned a lot from Garry Shandling.
JUDD APATOW, standup comic, writer, director
Garry had the foresight to write about the talk show wars and this very subtle aspect of it, which is, you support a young comedian and slowly the network likes him more than it likes you, and then that younger guy, in ways that he understands and might not understand, slowly pushes you out of your job. Similar to what really happened with [Jay] Leno and Conan [O'Brien] and [Jimmy] Fallon. So there was a moment when Garry was considering continuing The Larry Sanders Show, and changing the name of it to The John Stewart Show, with an H so it wouldn't really be Jon. Everyone was excited about it for a while, but it went away.
Probably my favorite Garry memory is his life being so bizarre to me. It was going to Warren Beatty's house with Garry and having dinner with Warren and Sean Penn in this beautiful mansion on Mulholland or wherever it was, and then heading down to the Chateau Marmont. And at this time, Warren Beatty's got to be fifty, sixty years old and Garry's not a spring chicken, and we're in the Chateau Marmont surrounded by fans, if you know what I mean.
I knew I didn't want to live in LA. Because everything is inflected with show business, and I found that to be suffocating. Even your Saturday basketball game over at Garry's house. It was a red carpet of people that you couldn't help but think, "Oh, wow. Look at me, I just got my shot blocked by that guy from The Avengers," or whatever it was. You always felt a little bit like you were on an audition, and I never liked that feeling.
Worst-case scenario, he could always be a writer-producer on his own or on someone else's show. We didn't say, "Let's host a news parody show." Jon was always smart about the long play.
The Daily Show wasn't necessarily on the radar. I think they called and said, "Hey man, would you be interested in talking about this?"—something along those lines, something as romantic as that.
I definitely advocated for him to do it. I just said to him, "You can put this through your prism. You can make it smarter and different than what it's been." Now, I definitely didn't see the show becoming the political lightning rod that it evolved into.
J. R. HAVLAN, writer, 1996–2014; member, original Daily Show staff
I knew of him as a sort of leather-jacket-wearing, hipster young dude who was different from the personality that we had been working with, let alone created, for The Daily Show, for Craig, the newsman thing.
KENT JONES, writer, 1996–2001; member, original Daily Show staff
Oh, it was really positive, my reaction to Jon being hired. He was a name, and he had a good reputation. Hiring Jon is Comedy Central saying this is an important show to them.
LEWIS BLACK, contributor, 1996–
From the time I met Jon in the clubs, I liked him, he was funny. There was no bullshit to him. Hiring him for The Daily Show made sense. The only thing I found disturbing was that they auditioned everybody, and they didn't audition me. And you just do that out of etiquette. You don't have to hire me. I don't care. You don't have to put film in the camera. You just pretend that you're allowing me to do this.
DOUG HERZOG, executive, MTV, 1984–1995; president, Comedy Central, 1995–1998; executive, Viacom, 2004–
In the summer of '98 when we announced that Jon was going to take over The Daily Show, we had a little press conference in the lobby of the old Comedy Central offices. And Stephen Colbert showed up, as a member of the press representing The Daily Show, wanting to know why he didn't get the job.
STEPHEN COLBERT, correspondent, 1997–2005
"You told me he wasn't funny." That's what Jon said to Doug Herzog.
The Daily Show offices and studio were in a still-rugged pocket of Hell's Kitchen, at 513 West Fifty-Fourth Street, between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues. The Daily Show's neighbors were abandoned warehouses, but the building itself was a cozy, three-story, redbrick townhouse. The production offices were upstairs, with the one-hundred-seat studio on the ground floor.
JEN FLANZ, from production assistant to executive producer, 1998–
The area was rough in those days. I think Adriane Truex got carjacked outside the Fifty-Fourth Street studio.
Jon's first day, he walked around and introduced himself. He was wearing a black leather jacket. I remember hearing rumors before he started: "He doesn't want to wear a suit." Our wardrobe girl at the time was upset. Jon did wear suits on the show. It was fine. But it was a big thing at the time.
MADELEINE SMITHBERG, The Daily Show cocreator; executive producer, 1996–2002
Because of the point of view that had been created by Craig Kilborn sitting in the chair, the writers' role had inflated. Yeah, they were spoiled rotten, because almost every show in late night is talent driven. They got too big for their britches.
STEW BAILEY, from field producer to co–executive producer, 1996–2005; member, original Daily Show staff
Madeleine had hired me as a segment producer on Jon's MTV pilot and then on the series, and then also on The Daily Show when she started with Kilborn. Jon came into Daily Show writing meetings originally and would listen. I think that he really wanted to make sure that he understood what the process was as opposed to coming in and immediately dictating terms.
A couple of months before I officially started as host there was a meeting with the writers and producers. Let's call that "Jonny's surprise party." I knew that the people working on the Kilborn show were rightfully proud of it. It had done well. It was not the sensibility that I thought was right for me, and so when they approached me for the show, I was pretty clear about the direction I thought I wanted to take it. Seemed like everybody was on board with that, and so this was my first chance to meet with all the people who, I had been told, were so excited about that. So excited. They're so happy you're here.
And I walked in, and it was a room full of people who, as it turned out, were annoyed that I had an idea about where I wanted to go, who thought that I was going to MTV it up. I was told, "This isn't about bands. We do a real show here." I just sat there like, "Oh, fuck." It felt a little bit like, "Wow, none of this was in the brochure. The brochure said that this was oceanfront property."
I had to talk Jon down. Not from a tree—from a skyscraper. Because they basically said to him, "Welcome aboard. This is how we do shit here. Grab a chair." It was bullshit. And Jon had to systematically mold the show piece by piece, person by person.
MATT LABOV, publicist for Jon Stewart, 1994–2008
The stakes for Jon were fairly high at that point, because he's not a superyoung guy anymore, and he's had shots, and people easily disappear and go into the woodwork. He didn't get the Conan job on NBC, he didn't get the 12:30 job after Letterman. If this doesn't work on fucking cable, then where would Jon have ended up?
PAUL RUDD, actor
Technically I was Jon's first Daily Show guest interview. I went to the University of Kansas, and my roommate, Stewart Bailey, became a segment producer who was with the show from the very beginning. I'd been on Kilborn's Daily Show. When Jon replaced Craig, they wanted to do a test show so Jon could get used to the format. I was wearing my girlfriend's Jon Stewart Show MTV T-shirt.
Stewart made his debut on Monday, January 11, 1999. His first joke was that Kilborn was "on assignment in Kuala Lumpur." His first headline, "The Final Blow," was about the Senate impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. His first guest was Michael J. Fox, then starring in ABC's City Hall sitcom Spin City. But Stewart looked, for the first months, very much the guest himself. Other than a new couch and desktop—and blue script pages for Stewart to scribble on portentously, replacing Kilborn's white paper—the set design was unchanged. The theme song, Bob Mould's "Dog on Fire," was the same. And Stewart's suits were so ill-fitting that they looked inherited from his much-taller predecessor.
J. R. HAVLAN
You watch his first shows, where he's wearing David Byrne's suit, you can see that it's the exact same format. He didn't want to change anything, at least at the beginning.
The first joke I wrote that Jon did on the air was on his first day. Popeye and Olive Oyl were getting married. We showed a picture of them, and you see Popeye, with his huge forearms. The joke is, "As for the wedding night, Olive Oyl had only one request: no fisting." The crowd loved it. But when I go back and I look at the tape, I can almost see Jon falling to pieces inside his own head, like, "Maybe I should change things up here sooner than I was planning."
Recurring segments from the Kilborn days—like "Ad Nauseam," about dumb commercials—continued to appear regularly during Stewart's first year. And there were wince-inducing bits, including one with Stewart singing, "Homeless, homeless, man," to the tune of "Macho Man," in a piece about the destitute former lead singer of the Village People. There was also a headline taking crude potshots at flimsy Florida targets.
Jon Stewart: [at anchor desk] In what must have seemed like a good idea at the time, the Florida Department of State decided to celebrate the coming millennium with "Great Floridians 2000." The program stalled, however, when they only received two hundred nominees, including five governors, three athletes, and 156 misspellings of the name "Jimmy Buffett." The list then dwindles to ten bearded ladies, the inventor of the funnel cake, and a blind guy who can fart the theme to M*A*S*H.
Stewart did not arrive with a precise blueprint for where he wanted to take The Daily Show. But he did have a clear idea of the sensibility he wanted to instill. One of Stewart's comedy heroes was George Carlin, who wove social criticism into his jokes and riffs about dirty words, organized religion, and hypocritical politicians. Stewart wanted to give his Daily Show a similarly substantive foundation—and, crucially, he wanted it to "punch up." He started shifting The Daily Show's sights to target powerful people and institutions, and he began changing the tone of the show from randomly coarse to deliberately barbed. Not that he was opposed to making a good dick joke now and then.
ADAM CHODIKOFF, from researcher to senior producer, 1996–
It was pretty quick that things changed. One of Jon's lines was, "No more Carol Channing jokes"—the celebrity stuff. Instead of doing six headlines a show, we started doing three headlines a show, but they were more intense. They were longer and had more power and research to them, and more tape.
JUSTIN MELKMANN, from segment producer to supervising producer, video department, 1997–
During the Kilborn era, it was about "How can we seem like we've gone too far?" With Jon, we went from creating the news—creating funny spoof headlines—to making fun of the news. That was a big change.
You can satirize news media conventions just by embodying the form in slightly exaggerated or subtle ways—for instance, the way that they do those camera turns. Making the story itself have purpose—that's when I felt we got something.
For me the key switch was relevance—turning the machine in a direction more toward politics, media, satire. The first two years, most of my energy was spent saying, "I understand that's a funny joke, but our point of view here is not that the lady who is selling the Barbie in that commercial is a whore. That joke runs counter to the idea that we are maybe looking at the underlying sexism involved in this product."
Jon Stewart: [at anchor desk] Belly up to the Barbie! Some of Hollywood's biggest stars turned out to honor a hunk of molded petroleum, as Barbie turned forty, making her too old to play the girlfriend and too young to play the mother. Here's Brandy, singing the Barbie marching song, "Be Anything," with a choir of future divorcees. She looks just like Moesha!
And here's Brandy talking!
Brandy: [in video clip] "I love Barbie. She's so positive, she's very classy, and I'm just happy to be here, because that's the way I am."
Jon Stewart: Yes, that's exactly right, Brandy, because class is all about telling people you're classy.
MO ROCCA, correspondent, 1998–2003
Shortly after Jon arrived, the whole staff piled into Madeleine's office. We had done a bit about Dana Plato dying, and Jon felt bad about delivering a joke when the end of her life had been so pathetic. He said he had resolved that the show needed to have a point of view and couldn't just be the kid at the back of the classroom throwing spitballs in all directions. I remember people trading the kind of glances that said, "Oh shit, this is going to be a disaster."
To be fair to the writers who stayed from Kilborn's show, they had a successful thing going. They thought of it as a continuation of their show. I thought it was a new show. To me it wasn't edgy or provocative to just take napalm to a bush for no reason. You wanted it to be pointed, purposeful, intentional, surgical.
I felt like I walked in there with a very open "Okay, so this will be great," and it was "Hey, motherfucker, you came here to kill a baby."
Well, I would not agree with that. I don't remember any of this being as hostile as it has been portrayed, I just don't.
J. R. HAVLAN
A month or two in, you could see flashes of pieces and jokes that have meaning, which has always been Jon's thing. That's what Jon instilled in everybody that came through there: "I'm not interested in the first thing off the top of your head. You're saying it before you've given thought to what it is you really want to say." That was the biggest learning process with working for Jon. It takes you away from being surface.
To change the culture of The Daily Show, though, Stewart knew he needed committed allies as much as he needed people who could write funny and fast.
CHRIS REGAN, writer, 1999–2006
I was thirty-one and I had been working as an advertising writer for Sony Music. It was a good job for someone trying to start a comedy career, because it was a company where they spent an awful lot of money, I had a big office, and I didn't do much in the way of actual work.
I got ahold of the fax number at SNL [Saturday Night Live] for Colin Quinn, when he was doing "Weekend Update." Every Friday, I would fax stuff to him, and he began to buy a decent chunk of jokes from me.
Jon took over The Daily Show, and he asked Colin Quinn if he knew of anyone who was writing decent topical stuff, and Colin gave him my name, which is awfully nice of him because I'd never met Colin.
I was called in by Madeleine Smithberg and Chris Kreski, who was the head writer at the time, and I had an interview with them. Jon came in only at the very end. He was eating Chinese food out of a Styrofoam tray. I think he had sweat clothes on: a gray sweatshirt and gray bottoms. He looked like an old-timey police cadet.
Jon just sat down on the couch, while he was eating, and he asked me one or two questions, and then said, "So, if we hire you here, are you going to be my guy?" And I wasn't quite sure what being "his guy" entailed, but I was very eager to get out of advertising, and I said sure, and then I was hired about a week later. I was Jon's first hire on the show.
Six or eight weeks in, the writers called me into their office. They're like, "You can't change our jokes anymore." I didn't know what to say.
So after a weekend of pacing and smoking and having tremendous Lincoln-Douglas debates on the couch by myself, I went back in, and it was horrible. I basically told them all to fuck off. "You work for me. And if you don't like the direction, okay. I get that. Don't work here."
There were points where I thought, "I made the wrong decision. I've got to leave." But I don't give up very easily. It was open hostility, which is so enjoyable. It became that sense of "Okay, let's arm-wrestle." This will give you a hint of my personality of grudges.
It was tense. It was a weird experience to be involved in, because it was the first job I'd had in the industry, and I just kind of wanted to lay low and do my work. But there was a lot of conflict between Jon and the Kilborn writers. As time went on, it put into perspective the "Are you going to be my guy?" question Jon had asked me.
- "Zippy, smart."—New York (magazine)
- "Readers of this compelling history will appreciate the sweat behind every joke."—Washington Post
- "Mr. Smith's book feels like a visit to a distant time."—New York Times
- "[A] substantial, many-faceted oral history....This superbly well-edited choral work illuminates the enormous effort, creativity, collaboration, and hustle required for producing a hilarious, news-focused, four-times-a-week comedy show and the chutzpah necessary for taking on the powers-that-be."—Booklist
- "Sometimes our book dreams get answered....If you ever longed to be in the room for epic moments like Stewart's post-9/11 on-air address, his grudge matches with Fox News, the famous Indecision presidential election coverage and more, this is your printed word moment of zen.—Detroit Free Press
- "Deftly recount[s] the way Stewart's sensibilities, political realities (and unrealities), defining events like 9/11, advances in technology and changes in the television news landscape moved the show from spectator to player."—USA Today
- "Smith digs deep into the show's ascendance and cultural influence as if he was one of the show's meticulous fact-checking news-tape researchers...Smith lets the show's stars, crew, and guests tell the show's unvarnished history. Fortunately, most every one interviewed-from Stephen Colbert to longtime showrunner Ben Karlin to Sen. John McCain-possesses an A-plus wit...it doesn't flinch from digging into the show's most contentious moments... in the Age of Trump, the time has never been better to delve into the minds of the masters who became a vital part of our democracy."—Entertainment Weekly
- "Smith gives readers sound bites from some smart, funny and self-aware people waxing rhapsodic about their 'let's put on a show' adventures...the seeming candor of Stewart in particular gives the book a refreshing amount of depth, particularly regarding backstage drama...the real measure of the show and the book that bears its name is, did it have a point, and, moreso, was it funny in making it. The answer, on both counts, is a resounding, laugh-out-loud 'yes.'"—Chicago Tribune
- "Comedy Central's The Daily Show was a cultural phenomenon, and now it gets the oral history it deserves...Smith tells the show's story through artfully arranged first-person recollections. ..it is more than a collection of famous moments, but rather a work of distinctive, original social commentary."—The National Book Review
- "There is solace in this chatty and highly informative tome....THE DAILY SHOW (THE BOOK) is like eating popcorn, in that it's light and fun and easy to consume....the book is a love letter to the people that built The Daily Show and make it work night after night."—Vulture
- "Lively... Smith deftly combines narrative with the recollections of people involved with the show at every level, ranging from boldface names like John McCain to correspondents like Stephen Colbert and Ed Helms....An intimate and entertaining look at a fake-news program whose caustic, witty alchemy remains missed by many."—Kirkus Reviews
- "This is a fascinating history of a cultural phenomenon and the people who powered it. Be aware that, like the show, there is plenty of cursing in this book."—Provo City Library Staff Reviews
- "A must-read for the show's fans and those aspiring to a career in comedy or television."—Library Journal
- "Wonderfully compiled...Certainly if you are a fan of the show you must read THE DAILY SHOW (THE BOOK)...it is a sincere blast to relive its finest moments and understand how it was achieved and more importantly remember how much it was a major part of the democratic process...Bravo, Mr. Smith."—Reality Check News & Information Desk
- "The Daily Show was so obviously the signature TV series of its generation that this book's rare carping voices are almost a relief, in that keeping-things-honest way. If damn near everyone else sounds a bit in awe of what their unlikely Godfather wrought, no wonder."—Barnes & Noble Review
- "Stewart even contributed the introduction. But this isn't a sanitized history. There's plenty of warts and all (and some fun hijinks as well). It's also a smart look at the business of TV and how 24-hour news channels and the rise of conservative media have changed our political culture."—Hollywood Reporter
- On Sale
- Oct 10, 2017
- Page Count
- 480 pages
- Grand Central Publishing