From a small northwestern observatory…

Finance and economics generally focused on real estate

Daily Show w/ Jon Stewart

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Thanks to my friend Kevin Bleyer (2-time Emmy Award winning Daily Show writer), Lynnda and I had “VIP” seats to last night’s taping of the Daily Show. (VIP means you don’t have to wait out on the cold for the CHANCE at a seat, plus we were seated behind “30-Rock’s” Scott Adsit and his date). Stewart’s guest was NBC New’s Brian Williams. Everyone remind me I owe Kevin a drink or two.

But enough celebrity-geeky-ness. Watching the show get taped was extraordinarily insightful. The normal show we see here in the U.S. is taped in 3 parts — Stewart’s opening monologue and then the bit with one of the regular contributors (last night John Hodgman, also known for his role as the “PC” in Apple’s ads.) Both of these bits are scripted. I could see the teleprompter, and thus see that Stewart goes a bit off-script much of the time (pretty much anything “bleeped” in the show was pure Stewart). At the end of the show, after all the taping, Stewart came out again to tape a couple of minutes of “global” stuff as an intro to the weekly “Daily Show Global Edition”. Pretty much a duplicate of the “U.S.” monolog, but done standing up (rather than behind the desk) and focused entirely on non-U.S. news (e.g. — Italy’s prime minister). (As an aside, there’s a warm-up commedian to get the audience “going”, and Stewart also comes out and does a little bit and a Q&A before the taping begins.) The taping itself runs very quickly — they produce 22 minutes of screen time in not much more than 30 minutes.

The “main part” of the show is rougly 5 minutes with the main guest, in this case Williams. That part, apparently, was totally off script. Williams came right over from the NBC studos at Rock Center — the Daily Show taping was delayed a bit to accomodate this, but not by much. Given the drive (yes, even in the back of a limo) from Rock to the Daily Show’s studios (52nd Street at 11th Ave) during rush hour, it was apparent that Williams simply walked into the studio, sat down, and the two of them began a no-telepromoter conversation — in this case, about William’s trip to Egypt and his impressions there.

That part was both fascinating and vitally important. Here is a guy — Williams — with a terrific insight into how things work around the world, who is spending 5-minutes, off script, talking about it on-camera with no editing in front of an audience of millions. Frankly, his commentary there was more interesting and perhaps more insightful than anything I’ve heard to date on the subject.

My experience drove home two important issues. First, “conversation” is vital in public affairs, and listening to people who do not have political agendas is a rare opportunity. Second, despite the fact that Stewart is a comedian and this is a comedy show, this sort of “user-friendly” approach is increasingly an important part of the information age. And yes, we are in the throes of an information age — the revolutions in the Arab world right now are totally information driven, as are the quite revolutions we see in other parts of the world.

Written by johnkilpatrick

February 17, 2011 at 8:24 am

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