Thursday, January 18, 2007

All The News That's Fit To Air

I get my news primarily from two sources, a daily dose of National Public Radio for several hours each morning and NBC’s Nightly News with Brian Williams in the evenings. That having been said, I also require a little bit more to ensure that I stay relevant, informed, and, quite frankly, sane.

If you’re a regular viewer of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, you may have noticed familiar laughter (at least my sister did) from the audience on last night’s show. Truth is, I decided that, while watching the show on cable each night is great, attending a taping is even better. It took me a few tries, but I finally got tickets.

After standing outside in the 30 degree cold for two hours (tickets do not guarantee entry), a friend and I were led into the studio and seated almost directly in front of Jon’s desk. Surprisingly, the set is extremely small, basically just a desk with three large screen recessed in the background.

Daily Show writer and insult comic, Paul Mercurio warmed up the audience before Jon came out and fielded a few questions. I was struck most by Jon’s manner when the cameras are not on him—exactly the same as when they are. His hilarious delivery and comic timing mirror his on-camera persona.

We discussed Fidel Castro’s surgically implanted artificial anus, Barack Obama’s run for President, and American Idol. Featured correspondents included John Hodgman (PC on the Mac ads), Rob Riggle, and Larry Wilmore who taped an advanced segment for an airing later in the month. The guest was NFL superstar and rug-cutter Jerry Rice.

Living only a mile or so from the studio, I may need to make a habit of this.

Check out some of the highlights here.

But that's not all folks. It was a great week for political comedy shows.

Several days earlier, I was in Chicago for a taping of NPR's hilarious news quiz show “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!”

“Wait Wait” is hosted by Peter Sagal, with veteran “Morning Edition” NPR newscaster and sidekick Carl Kasell as scorekeeper and a rotating set of three panelists. (Our three for the week were Mo Rocca—himself a former Daily Show correspondent—, writer Amy Dickinson and comedian Adam Felber.) In addition to the panelists, “Wait Wait” listeners phone in to play games on the air with questions based on the week's news. If they win, their prize is Carl Kasell's voice on their home answering machine.

Every episode features a section entitled “Not My Job” in which celebrity guests are asked questions about topics completely unrelated to their job (when former Secretary of State Madeline Albright was on recently, she was quizzed on the history of Playboy magazine). Recent guests have included Senator Barack Obama and Tom Hanks. Our guest was former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, and indeed jokes at New Jersey’s expense played a large part in the show as did the infamous soft-drink Surge, New York City’s flatulence, stupid criminals, murdering Martians, and the iPhone.

You can listen to the entire show here, or in bite-sized bits here.

Great stuff. Next stop, The Colbert Report!


Anonymous liz said...

Awesome Brandon!

I can't believe you got in!!! That's fantastic!

2:42 PM  
Anonymous Calvin Wulf said...

Personally, I think Barack Obama would make a GREAT American Idol. I'll vote for him. But seriously, Brandon, sounds like you had a good show. And by the way, it is 18 degrees in Colorado Springs as I write.

6:41 PM  

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