The Daily Show

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The Daily Show (currently The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, also known as TDS to fans and staffers) is a half-hour satirical "fake news" program produced by and run on the Comedy Central cable television network in the United States. The show premiered on Monday, July 22, 1996. It is hosted by Jon Stewart, who acts as news anchor (he took over for original host Craig Kilborn in 1999). Providing news-related comedy in the tradition of Michael Moore's TV Nation, Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” segment, HBO's Not Necessarily the News, and the long-running Canadian series This Hour Has 22 Minutes, The Daily Show reports on the foibles and hypocrisy of the real world with a satirical edge. The show has also developed a reputation as one of the sharpest political commentary shows on American TV.

In addition to news stories, The Daily Show includes interviews with celebrities, semi-celebrities, authors, and political figures. The political interviews in particular are often noted for being highly engaging, and have featured guests such as Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie, Senator Bob Dole, pollster John Zogby, 2004 Democratic Presidential Candidate Senator John Kerry, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Senator John McCain and former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

Production of an Episode

According to an October 7, 2003, USA Today article, the show is pulled together in this way: a researcher scans major newspapers, the Associated Press, and cable news channels, then gives possible topics to the ten writers. They meet to discuss headline material for the lead news segment. By 11:15 AM they meet with Jon Stewart, and by 12:30 PM they have come up with jokes for the day's show.


The Daily Show tapes four new episodes a week, Monday through Thursday, in studios located on 52nd Street near 11th Avenue, New York City. The cast holds an afternoon rehearsal, then doors open to the public at 5:45 PM. Attendees must be 18 years of age or older, and tickets are usually required to get in. However, there are sometimes leftover seats, despite the normal practice of overbooking (distributing more tickets than seats), so additional people who don't have tickets may be allowed in. Taping of the program begins in front of the audience at 6:30 PM.

Schedule and Hiatus

The program will occasionally go on hiatus for one or two weeks at a time. It is shown at night at 11:00 PM Eastern/10 PM Central, a time when local television stations show their real news reports, and about half an hour before most other late-night comedy programs begin to go on the air.


The program originates "from Comedy Central's world news headquarters in New York" (as is announced in the opening of each show), where Stewart is joined on-screen by a group of correspondents who provide humorous reports and commentary. The opening announcement is now less tongue-in-cheek than it once was, as The Daily Show has grown and currently airs in Canada, the UK and in abbreviated form around the globe.

On July 11, 2005, the show moved its "World News Headquarters" to another studio in New York City. The set changed along with the move, gaining a sleeker, more formal look, including a backdrop of three large television panels. The set change immediately spawned a tongue-in-cheek blog and campaign to "Bring Back the Couch" — which was not a part of the new set. The campaign was subsequently mentioned on the show by Stewart and supported by Daily Show contributor Bob Wiltfong. The couch has since been the reward for a Daily Show sweepstakes in which the winner gets the couch, round-trip to New York, tickets to the show and a small sum of money.there old studio is now used for the colbert report wich stars one of the former daily show correspondent Steven Colbert.

Editions for Various Markets

The Daily Show in Canada

In Canada, the show airs on CTV, a regular broadcast network, as well as on The Comedy Network. In Canada, The Daily Show regularly beats The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Show with David Letterman in the ratings. Its success contributed to the quick cancellation of a Canadian late night talk show hosted by Mike Bullard on the Global Television Network. Bullard had left CTV in 2003, and The Daily Show was placed in his old time slot.

An uncensored version of “Indecision 2004” was released on a three-disc DVD box set on June 28, 2005. It includes original material from Jon Stewart and “The Daily Show’s News Team,” all episodes from the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, “The Bush-Kerry Debate: The Squabble in Coral Gables,” “Election Night 2004: Prelude to a Recount” and highlights from throughout the 2004 Presidential Campaign.

The weekly four-episode run is broadcast in Canada on The Comedy Network each night at 11 PM Eastern/Pacific, and on the CTV network each night at 12:05 AM in all time zones after local news on most CTV affiliates.

Overseas Editions

An edited version of the show, called The Daily Show—Global Edition, is run outside of the U.S. on CNN International once a week. This edition is always prefaced by the following disclaimer run in all-caps against a Daily Show background: "The show you are about to watch is a news parody. Its stories are not fact checked. Its reporters are not journalists. And its opinions are not fully thought through."

Since October 10, 2005, both the Global Edition and the weeknight program have been shown in the UK at 8:30pm on a one day delay Mon-Fri on digital channel More4. Australian network SBS also briefly ran the edited version once a week as The Weekly Daily Show. Westwood One broadcasts small portions of the show to many radio stations across America.

Spin-off Show

A spin-off, The Colbert Report, was announced in early May 2005. The show stars Stephen Colbert, and serves as Comedy Central's answer to the programs of media pundits such as Bill O'Reilly. (The word “Report” in the show's title is pronounced to rhyme with “Colbert,” itself pronounced in the French fashion, rhyming with “bear.”) The concept of the spin-off emerged out of fake promos on The Daily Show for an O'Reilly-like program hosted by Stephen Colbert, playing an antagonistic blow-hard. The Colbert Report first aired on October 17, 2005, and takes up the 11:30 time slot following The Daily Show. Not long after its initial ratings proved to Comedy Central's satisfaction, the show, which was to have run for eight weeks, was renewed for a year.

In 2005, Steve Carell became the first Daily Show "correspondent" to carry a major Hollywood studio film. The 40-Year-Old Virgin opened in first place at the box office in late August 2005. Carell is also set to star as Agent Maxwell Smart in the big-screen remake of the classic TV series Get Smart.


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Stewart's reaction to a Bush clip.
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Later reaction to the same clip.

The Daily Show was originally hosted by Craig Kilborn when it premiered in 1996, but he left to take over The Late Late Show on CBS in 1999. Jon Stewart is the current host, who has a contract through the 2008 season, and is noted for heading a significant shift in the way the show handled news. The early years were filled with fairly common fare for late-night programs, including Monica Lewinsky jokes and a significant amount of material that was completely fabricated.

Stewart was more interested in finding a way to process the news that he and the show staff took in on a regular basis. The juxtaposition of news stories and the reactions of the on-air talent comes from real responses that they and the show's writers have behind the scenes as they take in stories from other media sources. After a few years as host, Stewart became co-executive producer of the series.

The show's format generally begins with a monologue of news headlines, with the host, seated behind a desk. The Daily Show runs this portion for the first segment, and may include "on location" reports. However, the correspondents are usually just standing in the studio with a greenscreened backdrop. While generally no note is made of this fact, it is occasionally the subject of jokes, such as having a correspondent report from a press base on Mars (this joke was used when the first Mars Exploration Rover landed). Introductions and on-screen graphics always label the same four reporters as "senior" specialists in the subject at hand, sometimes with absurdly specific expertise. A given reporter may be "Senior Palestinian Analyst" one day, "Senior Agricultural Reporter" a few days later, "Senior Papal Vacancy Expert" the next week, and for the Michael Jackson trial, "Senior Jackologist" then "Senior Child Molestation Expert". The show formerly split the news into segments known as "Headlines" and "Other News," though these titles were dropped sometime around 2003.

Stewart and company have fine-tuned a technique of intercutting commentary with footage of political figures making speeches or statements, in which the host or correspondent can stop the action at a telling moment, and register skeptical reserve or excruciated dismay, as political clichés, dud imagery, or oxymoronic statements hang lifelessly in the air. The results include some of the most pointed political satire broadcast in the United States.

Following the regular news portion, there are correspondent pieces and interviews, the order of which can vary from episode to episode. Correspondent pieces involve the show's members actually traveling to a remote location to make a report or interview people important to the story. Topics can be very wide-ranging, and these segments have gained quite a bit of notoriety. Often when a Daily Show correspondent has come through a town to report on some issue, the event is noted by the local media.

Some segments occur periodically, such as "Mark Your Calendar," "Ed Helms's Digital Watch," "Back in Black" with Lewis Black, "Great Moments in Punditry As Read By Children" (small children reading transcripts of contentious moments from programs like Crossfire and Hannity and Colmes), and "This Week In God." Since the early days of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, a common part of the show has been "Mess O'Potamia," focusing on the troubles in that region.

Each show ends with a "Moment of Zen" (the version on CNN International ends with the "International Moment of Zen"), which is a short, usually humorous video clip. During the Kilborn era, these clips had nothing to do with the news. Sometime after Stewart joined, most Moments of Zen became an extended clip from one of the stories aired during the show, though sometimes it is just a strange video pulled down from the newswires.

The Daily Show as a “news source”

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Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart on the old set of The Daily Show

Television ratings show that the program generally has about one million viewers nightly, a high figure for cable television. In demographic terms, the viewership is skewed to a relatively young audience compared to other news shows. A 2004 Nielsen Media Research study commissioned by Comedy Central put the median age at 35, while, for instance, the audience of The O'Reilly Factor has a median age of 63. There is anecdotal evidence that a large portion of TDS viewers are university students.

However, the show's writers often repeat the fact that The Daily Show is a comedy program and not a reliable news source by itself. The show does not follow the normal rules of journalistic integrity, but much of the schtick of the program involves questioning whether or not establishment television news sources in the United States, notably the cable news channels CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News Channel, are holding themselves to high journalistic standards. Also, even if one were to rely on The Daily Show for regular information, they'd be slightly out of date as the show usually covers news from the day before (due in part to the taping schedule).

The Washington Post ran an article on August 24, 2004 in which it quoted a "whining" Nightline anchor Ted Koppel, who said to his viewers in a telecast from the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston: "A lot of television viewers — more, quite frankly, than I'm comfortable with — get their news from the Comedy Channel on a program called The Daily Show."

Stewart took issue with Koppel's comment, saying Daily Show fans watch "for comedic interpretation" of the news. "To be informed," Koppel replied, refusing to budge from his position. "They actually think they're coming closer to the truth with your show." Stewart shot back: "Now that's a different thing, that's credibility, that's a different animal." Appearing on each other's shows a few weeks later, Koppel and Stewart downplayed the idea that the two had any animosity toward each other.

The National Annenberg Election Survey at the University of Pennsylvania ran a study of American television viewers around the same time and found that fans of The Daily Show had a more accurate idea of the facts behind the 2004 presidential election than most others.[1] The study primarily focused on comparing the audiences of TDS with that of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Late Show with David Letterman, but Daily Show viewers also beat out people who primarily got their news through the national evening newscasts of ABC, CBS, and NBC and those who mostly read newspapers, while roughly matching the knowledge level of viewers who watched a considerable amount of cable TV news. The study attempted to compensate for the fact that many viewers of TDS get information from many sources including the Internet, though most analysts and show staffers prefer to think that Daily Show viewers use the show as part of their news filtering process rather than a source in itself.

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Stewart in 2000 versus 2005 on the new Daily Show set.

Because of his increasing influence and respect, Jon Stewart was half-facetiously floated as a possible successor to Dan Rather of CBS Evening News (this is partly due to the fact that Comedy Central and CBS are both owned by media conglomerate Viacom). However, hard news is not what Stewart is about, and if such a thing were ever to happen, he would have become part of the media system that his show lampoons. Observers also note that content restrictions on terrestrial broadcasts enforced by the Federal Communications Commission in the U.S. would likely cut out much of the attraction.

Additionally, the Daily Show writers authored a best-selling text, America: The Book, published in September 2004. It remained a best seller even after the election, despite a decision by Wal-Mart to cancel its order because, as a spokeswoman was quoted in USA Today: "We felt a majority of our customers would not be comfortable with the image" [of naked Supreme Court justices]. The book was also banned from some Mississippi public libraries for its ribald "centerfold" of the nine United States Supreme Court Justices in the nude. (The ban was later lifted after the library board received complaints. [2]) Stewart responded to this on air by saying, "of course the go-to joke here would be, 'they have libraries in Mississippi?'" Chapter 5 on the Judicial Branch includes obviously doctored photographs of the current justices, with their heads superimposed on appropriately aged naked bodies. On the page opposite the photographs, the reader is invited to "Restore their dignity" by covering each justice with a cutout of his or her robe. The following year, after the nomination of Samuel Alito, The Daily Show featured a segment that dressed and undressed Alito based on whether or not certain factors would help him be nominated to the Supreme Court.

Notable stories, events, and shticks

“Are you OK?”

There have been many memorable moments on the Daily Show, though a few stand out. One of the most requested clips among Daily Show fans is the opening monologue that Stewart spoke on the first new episode after the September 11, 2001 attacks. In it, he conveyed his best wishes to viewers and quickly lampooned the fact that he was one of the last TV personalities to make such a speech, saying:

I'm sorry to do this to you. It's another entertainment show beginning with an overwrought speech of a shaken host. TV is nothing, if not redundant. … I'm sure we're getting in right under the wire before the cast of Survivor offers their insight into what to do in these situations.

Stewart reminded his audience that the United States had gone through troublesome times before, and he related a story from his youth. He said that when riots broke out after the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., the administrators of his elementary school "shut the lights off and we got to sit under our desks and we thought that was really cool and they gave us cottage cheese." He also pulled other light moments out of that dark period by saying the view had changed at his apartment:

The view from my apartment was the World Trade Center and now it's gone. They attacked it. This symbol of American ingenuity and strength and labor and imagination and commerce and it is gone. But you know what the view is now? (fighting tears) ... The Statue of Liberty. … You can't beat that.

Innuendo schminnuendo

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Stephen Colbert reports as "Senior Washington Correspondent" on The Daily Show

Of course, most memorable times from the show are less poignant and more absurdist or simply funny. For years, Stewart and the correspondents of The Daily Show have crafted a unique form of humor around sexual innuendo. An image that commonly appears when magazines review the show comes from a 2003 report[3] by Stephen Colbert about a purported sexual scandal involving Prince Charles. The Daily Show was lampooning the fact that British news outlets had to resort to using innuendo to be able to report on the situation at all due to the strict libel laws in the United Kingdom. Colbert reported, with emphasis:

"This is a story I could really wrap my hands around. I mean, I'd love to grab this story by the hilt and work this story long and hard, maybe teasing you with a few details. Make you beg for the story until it builds into a huge climax and explodes all over the front pages."

A moment later, he proceeded to wolf down most of a banana and tried to continue reporting, but soon totally lost his composure and could hardly stop laughing — a rare occurrence on the program. However, he succeeded in wrapping up the piece with his trademark stone-faced signoff (which is, simply, "Jon?").


Stewart has gained notoriety in some circles for his use of the insult "douchebag" along with some invented phrases based on that word. Perhaps the most famous instance is the labeling of conservative pundit Robert Novak as a "Douchebag of Liberty." Novak's label came in a roundabout fashion, initially based on the testimony of United States Attorney General John Ashcroft in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Ashcroft refused to turn over an important memo to the members of the committee, though he did not invoke executive privilege or anything else. The dialogue from a clip of Senate proceedings aired was:

Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass): "Do you mean you are invoking executive privilege?"
Ashcroft: "No, I am not invoking executive privilege".
Sen. Kennedy: "Then... what... are you invoking?"
Ashcroft: "I am not invoking anything!" [sic]

After the clip ended, Jon Stewart remarked: "Dude, I'm no lawyer, but you gotta invoke something: the Fifth Amendment, executive privilege, writ of douchebaggery — something..." Stewart also referred at a later time to a "Congressional Medal of Douchebaggery."

Robert Novak was going through a series of controversies around this time. He had revealed in 2003 that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent, and in March 2004, he insinuated on CNN's Crossfire that Richard Clarke had revealed government mistakes in his book dealing with the war against terrorism because he resented Condoleezza Rice's position as a black woman on the cabinet. Novak also asserted that Senator John Kerry should be assumed guilty until proven innocent of the accusations made by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Upon seeing these statements, Stewart labeled Novak "a Douchebag of Liberty," and continued to repeat the phrase several times afterward whenever Novak did something he considered foolish or hypocritical. In July of 2005, at the height of the Valerie Plame/Karl Rove situation, a clip of a suited Novak entering a courthouse was shown, to which Stewart remarked "[Novak is] seen here seething at the lack of fresh puppy blood in his mini-fridge." Stewart proceeded to ridicule a still shot of Novak, saying "Who's my little Douchebag of Liberty?" as if talking to a puppy.


A running gag is the insertion of the phrase "...or NAMBLA" (an acronym for the North American Man Boy Love Association) instead of stating a proper abbreviation or acronym after mentioning a long or convoluted name, such as Republican National Convention or Federal Bureau of Investigation. Similarly, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries was dubbed "NAMBL-OPEC" and the National Rifle Association was dubbed "BLAMBLA." The International Atomic Energy Agency was termed IAEA-BLA. An advocacy group concerned about alleged sexual abuse by Catholic priests was termed "Anti-NAMBLA". In August of 2005, Stewart renamed NARAL Pro-Choice America "NAR-AMBLA". In the October 2005 debut of a segment called "Man vs. Nature: The War on Terra", which detailed the devastating effects of global warming, Stewart shivered as he said "NAMBLA" in reference to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

In June of 2005, Jon Stewart played on the gag while criticizing a lucrative acronym-within-an-acronym for the word "oil" stated in Congress, responding with "That is no NAMBLA, my friend."

2004 presidential election

While most of the networks were there to cover every step of the way, Stewart and his team were busy satirizing it all. In an election watched intently not only by domestic eyes but international eyes as well, Stewart and his team were on the beat, doing what they do best from the nomination process through the party conventions, the campaign trail, the debates (one aptly headlined as "Squabble in Coral Gables") and finally to Election Night (aptly headlined as "Prelude to a Recount", a knock at the events of the 2000 presidential election). All of this has been preserved in the Daily Show "Indecision 2004" DVD set.

On August 9, 2005, Stewart officially kicked off the show's "Indecision 2008" coverage.

“Not so much”

The show sometimes makes use of sardonic understatement for humorous purposes, as evidenced by the frequent use of the phrase "not so much." The phrase can be used to indicate bittersweet vindication in a downplayed fashion. Specifically, it is frequently uttered by Jon Stewart in response to a person's (especially a public figure's) prior assertions, after they have been dramatically demonstrated to be false. One such example came in response to a government-released report indicating the failure of pre-Iraq War intelligence:

Jon Stewart: "The official CIA report, the Duelfer Report, has come out. The one that they've been working on for the past two years that will be the definitive answer on the weapons of mass destruction programs in Iraq, and it turns out, ehh... not so much."

“I said, ‘Good day!’ ”

The phrase “I said, ‘Good day!’ ” is sometimes used by Stewart when pretending to be indignant. The exact reference of the phrase is unclear. It is probably an allusion to movies set in pre-19th century Britain; possibly to a line from the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

“The government’s response to …”

Another recent memorable quote was by correspondent Ed Helms, criticizing and satirizing the slow federal response to Hurricane Katrina's devastation:

Jon Stewart: Alright, Ed. As best as you can, Ed, talk about the most recent developments in this terrible disaster.
Ed Helms: Jon, today finally, a ray of hope. Eight days after Katrina came ashore, the federal government has gotten its act together, marshaling all of its resources in a desperate effort to save this beloved and now beleaguered … president.
Jon Stewart: I'm sorry; I thought we were talking about New Orleans.
Ed Helms: Oh no, that place is fucked. But many here believe with quick action George W. Bush's reputation can still be saved!

Later on, the show satirized the response of Michael Brown, the Director of FEMA, and other federal officials:

Stewart: So, no one's going to be held accountable for any of this?
Ed Helms: Ah, no. In fact, if history is any indication, they'll be hard-pressed finding enough medals to pin on these guys. My sources tell me the head of FEMA may actually be dipped in bronze and turned into an award, which will then be given to other officials!


Main article: List of The Daily Show guests

Interviews usually take place toward the end of the show, and are most frequently of actors, musicians, and authors, although of late, people important in political circles have often been guests as well. Politically-oriented interviews have begun to attract a considerable amount of attention. Stewart has been known to ask some questions more directly than other interviewers on American television, even though they may be sheathed in a somewhat satirical cloak. He has also been known to stop his guests when they start using talking points or other canned responses, and often disputes the facts behind their claims. However, Stewart has been accused of going easy on some of his more liberal guests, while aggressively challenging more conservative figures. For instance, when he appeared on Crossfire on October 15, 2004, Stewart was accused by Tucker Carlson of lobbing softball questions in a much-publicized interview with U.S. Presidential candidate John Kerry. Stewart responded that his show is a comedy, and that his viewers do not necessarily expect hard news: "You're on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls," in a reference to Comedy Central's Crank Yankers. (transcript)

Newspaper Ad taken out during the RNC

The Daily Show has also asked President George W. Bush to be a guest on the show, even placing a newspaper ad with an invitation during the 2004 Republican National Convention. It was requested that he mark one of three checkboxes to RSVP:

  • “I will attend alone,”
  • “I will attend with my Vice President,” or
  • “I am unaware of your existence.”



  • Emmy Awards (2): Best Variety Series; Best Writing for a Variety Series
  • Grammy Awards: Best Comedy Album (for the audio book of America (The Book))
  • Television Critics Association: Individual Achievement in Comedy-Jon Stewart


  • Emmy Awards (2): Best Variety Series; Best Writing for a Variety Series
  • Peabody Award: For their Indecision 2004 Coverage.
  • Publishers Weekly: Book of the Year (for America (The Book))
  • Televisions Critics Association: Outstanding Achievement in News and Information (first Comedy Series to Win Award)


  • Emmy Awards (2): Best Variety Series; Best Writing for a Variety Series
  • Television Critics Association (2): Outstanding Achievement in Comedy; Individual Achievement in Comedy-Jon Stewart


  • Emmy Awards: Best Writing for a Variety Series


  • Peabody Award: For their Indecision 2000 coverage

Notable guests

Correspondents and Contributors

There are four main correspondents, all of whom are given rather specific titles and almost always with the word "senior" tacked on. (See List of The Daily Show correspondent titles for an incomplete list.)

Senior Correspondents

  • Dan Bakkedahl (2005 to present)
  • Samantha Bee (2003 to present) — first Canadian correspondent
  • Nathan Corddry (2005 to present) — Rob Corddry's younger brother.
  • Rob Corddry (2002 to present) — This Week in God
  • Ed Helms (2002 to present) — Digital Watch, Ad Nauseum
  • Jason Jones (2005 to present) — began 29 September 2005 (possibly replacing wife Samantha Bee during maternity leave)


Junior Correspondents



Former correspondents and contributors include the following:

Other information

The show's theme music is "Dog on Fire" by Bob Mould, performed by They Might Be Giants.

A book by Jon Stewart, other comedians on the show and by Daily Show writers entitled America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction (ISBN 0446532681) was released on September 20, 2004.

See also

External links


The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Democracy on the Crawl video


  1. ^ National Annenberg Election Survey, Daily Show viewers knowledgeable about presidential campaign, National Annenberg Election Survey shows, press release, September 21, 2004.

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