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October 4, 2015

The Daily Show: January 7, 2008

by Annie Wu, posted Jan 8th 2008 10:45AM
Jon Stewart... or, should I say, "A daily show with Jon Stewart".

So, Jon and his crew returned. Yay. However, the crew didn't include writers. Not so much yay. It was pretty obvious how Jon felt about coming back with his entire team. I was wondering if he would just spend the entire evening going on a free-form rant about the ridiculousness of the situation, but it soon became evident that, despite the unfortunate circumstances, we are in election season and TDS needed to cover the '08 happenings. Oh, by "cover", I mean "touch upon". The brief observations were funny, but not much deeper than "Woah! Mike Huckabee and Chuck Norris are BFF". Naturally, the main discussion was about the WGA strike.

Jon started off by showing off his facial display of solidarity, a fairly impressive two-month unibrow. I kind of wanted to see if he would keep it on for the entire show, but it magically disappeared within the first three minutes. The only thing more distracting than the unibrow was Jon's strangely double-striped wardrobe. Who does he think he is?... Stephen Colbert?

The word is that Jon's production company, Busboy, tried to negotiate a deal where the writers could return with the rest of the crew. Hey, it worked for David Letterman's Worldwide Pants, right? However, it didn't work. That may or may not have something to do with the fact that Comedy Central's mommy company is Viacom, which is the same company that sued YouTube for a pretty $1 billion not so long ago. I just tried to find a link to where I read about that Busboy attempt, but I couldn't find it. Maybe I just totally made that up during the stirke because I was so desperate for some Daily Show news. Well, regardless, Jon's not happy.

"Space Reserved for Clever Pun": And then we were thrown back into WGA business. When Jon dropped "Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers... or NAMBLA", I couldn't help but clap like an overexcited seal. Sorry. It's been a long time. Anyway, for anyone that hasn't been hanging on to TV Squad's every word regarding the strike (you guys, we have a separate category for it) or has had trouble following, watch Jon's explanation regarding the Internet and the related residuals. It was simple but effective. However, all those prepared graphics (including the weird ones with the amorphous blobs and the "SHUT UP" Guild Residual Formula) made me wonder if Jon was breaking any rules and was going to get yelled at, Leno-style.

In other news, I totally want to watch American Gladiators now, but I'm worried that it may brain cells faster than I can develop 'em.

Jon ended this segment by pointing out that the last time shows went off the air for an extended period of time was after the 9/11 attacks, and that absence lasted approximately one week. With the writers' strike leaving late night bare for about ten weeks, by Jon's math, that makes the writers' strike nine times worse than 9/11. Woah. I mean, I know he was joking, but it sent an awkward wave of nervous laughter through the audience. Did he just utter the new "The Beatles are bigger than Jesus"?

The night's guest was Ronald Seeber, professor of Labor Relations at Cornell University, and therefore that night's guest expert on unions. The bottom line of the interview was Seeber saying that strikes always end, but the winning side is determined by who feels the pain the most and gives in first. This part of the show that felt the most natural. Everything else was good, but couldn't help but be tinged with a bit of angry uneasiness. Plus, Jon may be a comedian, but he's not an improv comedian. The jokes were good, but the flow was weird.

Jon/Stephen: How much of this was written or pre-prepared? I'm still super confused as to whether or not Jon has remained within the confines of the WGA's okay zone. I wonder if Colbert's massive, Moses-style beard was a surprise on the other side of the throw. Moment of Zen: Writers picket outside the Daily Show studio. Way to get me totally depressed before Colbert.

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One thing that hurts the writers is that guys like Stewart and Conan are just funny people. Yes they need writers, but for viewers that tune in and tune out and aren't hardcore, they aren't going to notice much of a difference.

"However, all those prepared graphics (including the weird ones with the amorphous blobs and the "SHUT UP" Guild Residual Formula) made me wonder if Jon was breaking any rules and was going to get yelled at, Leno-style."

Who's to say Jon wrote this? There are plenty of people being paid to be on that show, producers, etc .. chances are working on that show, some of them have a sense of humor.

January 09 2008 at 8:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

CBS's parent company is also Viacom, so that's not it. I think the reasoning is that, although Dave doesn't hold online distribution rights for his show, their online revenues are probably minimal. But between itunes and the fancy new website, there's a lot of online revenue from the Daily Show, and I believe Viacom owns all that. And giving them online revenue from writers would be kinda counterproductive, given the issues at play.

Plus, I think they mostly negotiated with Letterman to say "see? we're reasonable!"

January 08 2008 at 12:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to BillS's comment
Joey Geraci

Uhm, no. Busboy productions doesn't own the Daily Show/Colbert Report, Comedy Central/Viacom does. Jon could no more negotiate with the WGA than Jay or Conan could. I thought it was a little disingenuous that Jon implied that the WGA should have given into his negotiations, when he had nothing to offer.

And yes, it was absolutely ridiculous that Jon didn't focus at least 90% of the show on the election. One of the biggest nights in Indecision 2008 will be tonight, and Jon has been off the air for most of it. He has all the time in the world to talk about the writer's strike, but he only has one night to talk about the primaries and give his take on it before people vote in New Hampshire. I personally think that Jon should have come back when the other late night shows came back last week, for the very reason that it would have given him more time to cover the ridiculousness of the campaign.

January 08 2008 at 2:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought it was shockingly narcissistic to make the whole show about the strike, on the eve of the New Hampshire primary. Obama v Clinton is the biggest thing until November. It could be decided today. And the WHOLE show was about the strike! Come on.

January 08 2008 at 11:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Dan's comment

I disagree. Stewart and Colbert are both writers (and WGA members), their shows have been off the air for two months, and they are men of strong opinions. I was actually surprised that they covered anything political at all. I had always assumed that their first shows back would be entirely taken up with the strike, its issues and its impact, and I was glad to see it.

January 08 2008 at 2:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

that line about the writer strike being 9x worse than 9/11 was the best part by far. i tivo both shows(daily show and colbert) and dont want them very often but wanted to watch their first shows back.

... they need the writers. either they aren't funny or are purposely being not funny because they dont have writers. I'm not saying the shows were terrible but they weren't very good either.

January 08 2008 at 11:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have yet to watch him and Colbert...but something non-strike related has been bugging me. Not to sound ungrateful, but why no episode recaps of The Colbert Report? Just wondering...

January 08 2008 at 11:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think it is safe to say that American Gladiators will definitely brain cells. You can bank on it.

January 08 2008 at 11:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I found the Moment of Zen extremely moving for some reason.

January 08 2008 at 10:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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