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JFL: The Daily Show: The Daily dirt

The Daily dirt

Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert and Samantha Bee on buns in your face, taking fakery seriously, and why Jon Stewart poops in a bag

Daily Show writer and correspondent Stephen Colbert recently found himself seated in front of porn star Mary Carey and her producer. It was for a segment about how the two had officially become Republicans, even attending the President’s Dinner, a fundraiser hosted by George W. Bush. During the interview, Carey, who earlier admitted to having "a lot of gas problems," said she joined the party because Republicans are "very, very wealthy people." Soon after, she rips a huge fart.

"What was that?" asks Colbert, straight-faced as always.

"I had a little gas," says Carey. "I’ve never farted for any other interview before – you’re my first fart."

"Well," replies Colbert, "that’s what we in the news biz call an exclusive."

It’s also what those in the fake news business call "getting the funny."

Knight of the card table

Four nights a week, The Daily Show takes real news and people and manages to wring some seriously hilarious shit out of them. Off the air, however, the show’s team does its best to play down the growing view that the half-hour slot is a bona fide source of information for a younger audience that has largely abandoned traditional news media. Host Jon Stewart has referred to himself as "a serious fake newsman" and makes a point of mentioning that anyone who believes the show has a serious bent should remember that it follows a program where puppets make crank phone calls (Crank Yankers).

Colbert, speaking over the phone from New York, stays on message: We’re a fake news show – any impact we have other than generating laughs is purely coincidental. When I ask him about ethics, he says: "I have to adhere to nothing. That’s the glory of the fake part. No one is going to toast the end of my career at the Waldorf, but I don’t have to have standards, which I find exhausting."

Ever since its hilarious coverage of the 2000 presidential campaign, The Daily Show has seen its audience and influence grow. The guests have gotten better, a mock history textbook written by Stewart and the writing staff was a runaway bestseller, and those in power are starting to pay attention. All of this is good for the crew that puts the show together, and Colbert’s stellar work has earned him his own show, The Colbert Réport, which will air right after The Daily Show starting this fall. It’s meant to be a takeoff on the political talk shows that litter the cable universe. I ask Colbert if he will feature roundtable discussions on the issues of the day.

"Fuck a roundtable!" he says. "It’s a card table discussion. A roundtable implies there is someone else important on the show. It’s going to be me talking into the camera because, let’s face it, people want to see this face shouting at the lens."

Colbert also wants people to say the show’s name correctly. The "t" in his last name and "Réport" are both silent. "It’s French, bitch."

It’s also probably going to be a big hit, requiring Colbert to deflect even more of these scurrilous accusations of credibility. His response is, of course, to fight back with the funny.

"I think America is ready for someone to the change the world through satire," he says. "I’m that guy. Jon shirked off the responsibility of using satire to lead a rebellion against the forces of darkness." (If that sounds a little Lord of the Rings-esque, it’s probably because Colbert admits to reading the book 40 times as a teenager. He was also big into Dungeons & Dragons.)

Queen Bee

Clearly, Colbert isn’t buying the idea that their show is a force for information and truth. Neither is Samantha Bee, the show’s Canadian-born correspondent.

"It’s just such dangerous territory if you take yourself seriously on a comedy show because then it’s not funny any more," she says. "We just want to be funny. We’re not supposed to be meaningful… Nobody at the show believes the hype, and that’s a good thing. Because of that, I feel the quality will remain the same."

Colbert is the veteran of the show from its early days with host Craig Kilborn, when it was less political and more a parody of terrible local newscasts. Bee is the most recent full-time addition, after showing up at an audition in Toronto. Both will be on stage with some of the show’s writers for the Daily Show Secrets… Revealed! performance at Just For Laughs. Neither had many details about the program (these are secrets after all, plus they hadn’t rehearsed yet), but they did promise that the crew would take questions from the audience. (See sidebar for Hour’s preliminary questionnaire.)

Colbert offered up one tidbit about the changes in Stewart since he had his first child last year.

"Jon gained a lot of weight," he says. "You can’t tell because he sits down, but he is morbidly obese and they have to wheel him behind the desk. He poops in a bag."

Neither Colbert nor Bee are sure why people are so willing to offer themselves up as comedy cannon fodder on the show.

"I don’t know why people talk to us," Colbert says. "The camera lobotomizes people. There’s no reason to ever talk to the press unless you already talked to them and are trying to redeem your character."

Colbert says some people declined requests during the last election, saying, "I’d love to talk but I’m under strict orders not to."

(In the regular media, someone refusing to talk to you is often as much a sign of your power as those who clamour for your attention. Whatever that’s like.)

"I guess people just really want to be on TV," adds Bee. "They want to be on TV whether they have a message or think it will impress their friends and family, or launch their careers. I mean, come on."

It’s a testament to the show that people often think they use editing tricks to make the story interviews funnier than they actually are, but Colbert swears they just air what they get.

"I always try to keep a little bit of me and a little of them in the frame so you can see we are actually in the same room," he says.

Hmmn. Surely Bee can offer up some show skeletons for a fellow Canuck?

"I’ve got a whole shitload of bad gossip for you," she says. "Guess what? Everyone likes everyone else… This is totally a dream job."

Scandalous.

Stephen Colbert

I can’t stand… the movie Beaches. In every shot on a beach there is a horse galloping in the background.

Jon Stewart is… a speed freak. He drives a Shelby Cobra. It’s a muscle car [Colbert rattles off a series of car terms at breakneck speed]. Sounds like you’re into cars, too? I like ‘em. What do you drive? I drive a Volvo.

I think French Canadians… le rock.

Samantha Bee is a… fireplug.

Most people wouldn’t know I once took lessons in… Disco dance lessons. I was good too. I did cotillion as a kid and was voted best all-around dancer. I was in eighth grade and they gave me an engraved shot glass as the prize.

The most punchable media personality is… Tucker Carlson. That guy has speed bags on his shoulders.

Samantha Bee

I can’t stand… having someone’s ass in my face. Yesterday I was on an airplane and about 75 people wiped their buns on my face as they passed through the aisle.

Jon Stewart is … my father.

I think French Canadians… smoke too much. You know they’re going to ban smoking in bars and restaurants here soon? Oh God. The streets will run red with blood.

Stephen Colbert is a… dirty birdie.

Most people wouldn’t know I once took lessons in… I took lessons on how to be a blackjack dealer at an illegal Vietnamese casino. It was in an industrial park outside Ottawa… They yelled at me and I had to stop because I couldn’t deal fast enough. It was a sweatshop for young white women.

The most punchable media personality is… Robert Novak. He’s horrible.

Daily Show Secrets… Revealed!
At the Imperial Theatre (1432 Bleury)
July 23, 7 p.m.

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  16 comments

  • by Gary Womac - July 14, 2005, 3:03 am

    A long time ago, many many many years in the making, i realised that journalism was nothing more than a farce.
    A farce that claims creedence by claiming to have their ‘hand on the pulse of the world’. in reality, journalist at best reveals a slippery slope where facts are often fudged, spun, diluted, dehydrated, and then at last, fed to a blind-sighted public eager to smoke the stuff that makes them believe they are ‘up-to-date with current events in the world…’.
    If modern-day journalism was a pharmaceutical drug, someone would have been sued many times over.
    Alas, as the twentieth century spun into the 21st century, the gods that never die (but are only ignored, due in part, to a dogmatic allegiance to religious materialism..) has blessed anyone with an active neural connections with jon stewart and crew of the daily show. what makes the daily show a masterwork of cable television would be the ability for jon stewart and his writing staff to remain at the swollen centre of wit, wisdom, and that endless understanding that if fox news can exist, then the daily show has no problem being the daily show, hanging out at the swollen centre of wit, wisdom, and that endless understanding of why fox news remains… fox news.
    Distractors will attempt to pick apart the daily show for numerous reasons that really boils down to immense jealousy, as well as lacking a sense of humour all around. such distractors are unwilling to appreciate satire that doesn’t prance around in the jester’s garb of elitist rhetoric, and apologetic swindling. satire was meant to be seething, visceral, and smug. bill watterson of calvin and hobbes fame was able to use a boy of six and his imaginary tiger friend hobbes as a means to skew the culture’s allegiance to moronicness. jon stewart would be that six year old boy, calvin, to stephen colbert’s hobbes, and samantha bee’s susie derkins (calvin’s female foe and foil…).
    Now let us give proper thanks to the gods that never die.

  • by Gary Ng - July 14, 2005, 11:13 am

    Yes, I know that their news is fake but I don’t care. It’s funny as all heck (I can write that, can’t I?). If they think a real news item is good enough to be their target then it must be newsworthy and something for us viewers to think about. Their targets deserve the Daily Show treatment and we all need to think about the issues behind them a little more. The show has been able to, if nothing else, raise awareness of the political hijinks that they report on.
    The aforementioned Mary Carey segment was silly but it does bring to light how people can buy influence with the Republician party. I am sure that the XXX industry won’t be a coveted voter bloc by the GOP but replace them with any right-wing special interest group and you get the picture that a seat at the table can be bought. And they are equal-opportunity offenders. All sides are fair game and that’s what makes the Daily Show special. No target is sacred. How can it be when you have “This Week In God” and Lewis Black screaming at the top of his lungs?
    The Daily Show has definitely taken on a greater importance on TV. They are attracting big name celebrities such as politician Colin Powell and movie stars like Will Ferrell in past months. Now I stay to watch the full 30 minutes. And host Jon Stewart has always shown the proper balance of respect and ridicule to his guests.
    We, in Quebec, haven’t been beyond their targeting crosshairs. They sent Samantha Bee up to Jonquiere to report on the Wal-mart closing there. Yes, they did take pot shots at the French language but they still hit upon the big news story that was there, that Wal-Mart closed a store because the employees set up an union.
    I regret not being able to attend the Daily Show event at JFL (out of town) but I am sure that it will be an event. It will probably be the next best thing to being in the audience during an actual taping. Long live the Daily Show and may they find many more deserving targets in the future.

  • by Alexander Yu - July 14, 2005, 6:11 pm

    Ah the Daily Show! To quote the Simpson’s about why the Daily Show works: “It’s funny because it’s true.” While they do have mock broadcasts and totally fake news parodies, their best segments is taking politicians’ speeches and quietly showing the opposite of what they are saying. This includes segments where they point the absurdity of these serious men in power and their policies. The result is pure hilarity and a good mocking for anyone who follows CNN or other newscasts for good information sources.
    I know the Daily Show doesn’t want to be considered an intelligent broadcast as it is a comedy but to be honest is one of the most honest in your face half hour of television. If one really thinks about it the daily shows raises A LOT of interesting questions about our politicians, their views, and how people act in general. They point out that real news people take themselves too seriously, so serious to the point that real news is a parody. And with all the times they showed us “mistakes” in newscasts, no wonder younger people are starting to consider the Daily Show something to be trusted.
    Anyone who believes the Daily Show is a show for idiots, has not watched it yet. Anyone who underestimates the strength of the show in influencing people is also foolish. It raises powerful questions and points through laughter and ever so often someone is listening.
    It seems the Just for laughs team have taken noticed and I’m happy to see two of the Daily Show’s correspondents coming to Montreal. They are something on par with our Canadian bred team of Royal Canadian air farce and This Hour has 22 Minutes and I can’t wait to try and see them. The show is the best written on television today, half scripted, half real life hilarity.

  • by Joyce Stemkowsky - July 15, 2005, 7:41 am

    I love the Daily Show, as a matter of fact, I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t like it. A friend of my daughter thinks Jon Stewart would be a great improvement over Bush as President. I admit, I don’t get to see it too often as I usually am in bed after the 11 o’clock news, but when an insomniac, I appreciate it being on when I can’t sleep. I thought the article about Mary Carey farting was great, too bad I missed the take on that.

  • by Tanya Parvez - July 15, 2005, 11:10 am

    Has anyone actually seen the clip of the interview with Mary Carey and her producer? If you haven’t I suggest you go check it out at http://www.badmash.org in the section movie clips. It’s hillarious! Great to know that for a couple of thousand you too can become part of the republican party. Basically another blunt reminder that money not integrity makes the world go round.

  • by Jessica Kelly - July 15, 2005, 11:39 am

    I watch the daily show religiously every night, and have been doing so for years. I love how they laugh about conventional news shows, they don’t take themselves seriously, but the reality is that all the others news are a big fat joke anyway with so much lies and so little truth. Their only goal is to make sure the population is scared out of their mind and therefore will obey no matter what. We live in a crazy world where important information comes in second rank but if we want to know who’s dating who, no problem! John Stewarts guests list is pretty impressing, lots of big political names and mostly book writers with unconventional views. It makes good interviews, highly entertaining, especially when Stewarts goes for the kill with a ferocity you wouldn’t expect. My favourite is still Stephen Colbert, it makes you wonder how desperate are people to be on TV, since they almost always end looking like total idiots. He makes me laugh with the way he keeps an impassive and totally professional look on his face while asking those insane and often provocative questions. Samantha Bee isn’t bad either but I still think Colbert is crazier. I just hope they keep up the good work since we need more of those shows… at least Quebec has En attendant Ben Laden, not as popular but still very good.

  • by Stephanie Ein - July 15, 2005, 12:04 pm

    As I watched CNN’s minute-by-minute coverage of the infamous “Runaway Bride” last spring, I was convinced that somehow Videotron had piped me into the Comedy network. No such luck. Slow news day or not, 24-hour news stations have to fill the airwaves with something. So, what we get often isn’t legitimate news at all, but the media equivalent of Cool Whip– fluffy, sweet, and 100 percent artificial.
    Brad-n-Jen, Brangelina, Bennifers 1&2… These are what traditional news organizations now consider fast-breaking “news”. Will Britney give birth to twins, or maybe a space alien?
    “The Daily Show’s” job is getting harder and harder, as their satirical lunacy must compete with mainstream “legitimate” insanity. Who is funnier, Stephen Colbert, Larry King, or Bill O’Reilly? That’s one tough fucking call.

  • by Ruth N - July 16, 2005, 4:23 pm

    Just by reading this article I can tell that the people behind “The Daily Show” are as funny as they come. Never having watched the show, this article definitely piqued my curiosity. It’s great that the writers are getting a chance to be in the spotlight, since it’s usually the host getting all the attention. I’m glad to see that there are still shows out there that don’t take themselves too seriously and are up for revealing their behind the scenes secrets. It’s a fresh change in times with way too many fake reality shows and cheap sitcoms.

  • by Basil James - July 16, 2005, 8:20 pm

    Wow, what a funny show! Who would’ve thought that a show that looks like a regular news program, but in reality is a satircal commentary on the media and current events, could be so popular. What a great concept…but it sounds familiar (does a similar Canadian tv show called “This Hour Has 22 Minutes” ring a bell?). Regardless, The Daily Show is a fresh take on the world of U.S. political spin and the media who spread it like wildfire. Jon Stewart and company really have a good thing going and best of all this show actually makes you think. What’s also making me think is that The Daily Show airs from Monday to Thursday every week on the CTV network, since it’s called “The Daily Show” shouldn’t they just air it Mondays to Fridays by dropping the late night broadcast of CSI on Fridays…hmmm? To the writers and cast of The Daily Show, welcome to Montreal and we’re glad to have you here!

  • by Pedro Eggers - July 17, 2005, 1:05 pm

    Well, at least the cold refrigerator that is the Imperial Theatre will do something besides just sitting there empty.
    < <>>
    What does it say about us, and by us I mean specifically the Americans, that The Daily Show is considered on the same intellectual par with the recognized media shows as a source of truth & information? I catch the show every time I can and although I get the satirical edge to it all I’m always struck by how much closer to the truth the fake news sounds like than what the main networks put out. Perhaps it’s all perception but to a generation of people the real news is a very real joke so is it any wonder that they consider joke news to be more real?

  • by Vladimir Joseph - July 17, 2005, 5:47 pm

    I like the Daily Show but I’m not sure it’s something I want to see live without Jon Stewart there. Last year I went to the Family Guy show at the Imperial and that was huge but this? Not so sure. The real funny thing about the show is that the bullshit factor is nothing compared to CNN or FOX News that lie to us each day.

  • by Charles Montpetit - July 17, 2005, 10:28 pm

    As Newsweek editor Fareed Zakaria commented when he was a guest on the show last Thursday, the Daily Show has provided us with the clearest explanations of the Karl Rove scandal so far… and I would venture that this also applies to most of their other political commentaries. To make sure that we get the jokes, they must first summarize the relevant background as tightly as possible (something the “real” news shows sometimes do very sloppily) and to avoid accusations of constant partisanship, they really go out of their way to let us hear from both sides (ditto). In addition, they must watch so-called serious news coverage MUCH more attentively in order to capture those rare instances where something goes deliciously awry (for instance, when George Bush assured the nation that, as far as nuclear power is concerned, “technology is the answer” — which is exactly when CNN lost the feed of the press conference yet failed to detect the irony of what had just happened). In short, the staff of The Daily Show do their work with a professionalism that puts others to shame, so let’s not be fooled when they pretend that they are merely going for the yuks.

  • by Mark St Pierre - July 18, 2005, 8:26 am

    Ok, I can’t help but think that when this year’s edition of the fest wraps up and people look back at some of the highlights that this show will be at the top of the list. Samantha Bee and Stephen Colbert are achingly funny and never fail to elicit guffaws of incredulity with their inspired straight-laced, ironic antics on The Daily Show. That they are all too often able to pull the wool over the eyes of their unsuspecting subjects just staggers the mind in a deliriously funny way. The idea of being privy to the behind the scenes goings-on, as well as being subject to their collective sense of humour and acerbic wit is a rare privelege that I strongly urge everyone, fans of the show and relative newcomers alike, to avail themselves of!

  • by Dawn Manhertz - July 20, 2005, 4:30 pm

    Seriously, SEX sells!
    And if you haven’t gotten the picture yet, just take a look at the clip produced by this Daily Show bunch with the Porn star Mary Carey…sounds eerily close to the name Mariah Carey doesn’t it? Coincidence? I think not.
    In any case, I’ll have to agree with Tanya Parvez as far as the overall message being delivered through these not so subliminal methods, money – Money – MONEY = what makes things happen & how people operate & not morals or values or anything to do with human dignity. Or as Sean “Puffy” Combs would say (someone with lots of $MONEY$ mind you) “Its all about the Benjamins Baby!”
    Uh-huh, Yeah.

  • by Carmela Sicurella - July 22, 2005, 8:29 am

    I hate the daily show television show because it’s not humorist at all and they always talk about politics, which I don’t find funny. I have to say that I’m kind of disappointed at this years Just For Laughs show because I expected better galas and comedians like Adam Sandler and Dana Carvey. The Daily show is something that I will never have interest in. The fact that it’s fake brings me to my conclusion that watching this is a waste of my time. I believe that John Stewart needs to stop picking on President Bush and think to himself if he could do such a better job.

  • by Paul Cordery - July 24, 2005, 10:13 pm

    I just saw the hyped “Secrets Revealed” 7pm show and boy was it crap! If I hadn’t gotten my tickets from the auction for free, I’d be really pissed…actually I did rush out of the 10m diving finals just to get to the theatre on time (and that pissed me off because I was enjoying the vibe there). This of course only to find that the theatre was late to open, and the waiting line stretched down the block.
    I got worried immediately when I saw a pile of chairs laid out rather informally across the stage…it didn’t look funny. Maybe I was expecting too much, I thought I’d see a prop or something. The show (I use that word lightly) did start-off well enough with showing some clips from the Daily Show…but what proceeded was a less than inspired hour-long interview and a crappy Q&A which ended with a fellow disappointed audience member demanding some funny for his money! Samantha Bee said like two words the whole time, and Colbert must of realized the show was shitty but took it out on the audience anyway with a mocking dance in which he flipped the bird and raised his back-side to the crowd. The only display more sad was that the audience, desperate to be entertained, apparently didn’t notice or didn’t care about the sarcastic nature of Colbert’s actions and applauded nonetheless. But, the underwhelming polite “Canadian” clapping at the end said it all…

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