Monday, June 19, 2017

The Daily Show (The Book)

The Daily Show (The Book): An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and Guests
By Chris Smith and Jon Stewart
Grand Central Publishing, 2016.  459 pages.  Nonfiction

This is an oral history of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the political satire comedy show that ran under Stewart for 16 years, won 23 Emmys, and launched the careers of many of today's brightest comedians. Chris Smith has interviewed an impressive amount of people for this book and has compiled it all together in a coherent and even compelling way.  The book recounts not just the process of how episodes were made, but also behind-the-scenes looks at many significant moments from the show, and even includes details of scuffs between staff - how they were resolved and how they affected the show going forward.

While this is an overview of the show from its inception, it is also an overview of major events of the past two decades, especially the political landscape and its shifts.  And while there were many people involved, special focus is given to Jon Stewart, whose drive and commitment to not just regurgitating the news with jokes but having an actual viewpoint helped create an entirely new kind of show and influenced countless viewers for the better part of two decades.  It doesn't always paint Stewart in a flattering light, but its hard not to come away from this book without an appreciation for his work ethic, his personal integrity, and his ability to think critically and speak eloquently, even in charged situations.  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.


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