Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Daily Show: An Oral History by Chris Smith

  • THE BOOK
    • The Daily Show: An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and Guests by Chris Smith
    • Published November 22, 2016

  • THE PREMISE
    • Interviews with the host, cast, staff and guests of "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" which ran from 1999 to 2015. The show is a satire of news programs and talk shows.
    • Behind the scenes look at how the show evolved from Craig Kilborn's time as host 1996 to 1998 and how it's overall viewpoint came about under Stewart. 

  • MY THOUGHTS
    • I watched "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" for the last two or three years of its run. I watched "The Colbert Report" regularly and now watch "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver", "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee" and "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert". Colbert, Oliver and Bee are all former "Daily Show" correspondents.
      • Like "Saturday Night Live", "The Daily Show" features a steady stream of successful actors and comedians:
        • Steve Carrell, Larry Wilmore, Michael Che, Nate and Rob Corddry, Josh Gad, Ed Helms, Jason Jones, Wyatt Cenac, Olivia Munn, Rob Riggle, Mo Rocca, Jessica Williams, Jordan Klepper, Lewis Black, Kristen Schaal, John Hodgman, Aasif Mandvi, Al Madrigal and many more.
    • I believe most of these people were quoted in the book but the bulk is devoted to the producers and Jon Stewart himself.
    • I always have issues with oral histories: NOT my favorite style of book but they are super popular right now. I guess it is easier for people to interview a bunch of people and then just quote the relevant parts instead of writing a narrative history?
      • This isn't to say Chris Smith does a bad job. This is definitely one of the better oral histories I've read.
    • The story seems to be complete in a warts-and-all way. All the tensions are discussed and while some interview subjects disagree on a few of the details, the basic story is here.
      • The change from the Kilborn years to the Stewart years was difficult on the writing staff and some of the producers and they mostly left the show after a few years.
      • The big (verbal) fight between Stewart and correspondent Wyatt Cenac is included here too.
      • The whole Jim Cramer and "Crossfire" episodes are covered in detail as Jon Stewart became more outspoken about the media and their methods.
    • Lots of fun anecdotes.
    • Recommended for those who are "The Daily Show" fans or those who want an inside look at the running of a TV show.

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