Sunday, March 11, 2007

TV shows you can stop watching: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Comedy Central's Daily Show with Jon Stewart is smart television in stingy portions. Despite the name, the show is on only four times a week, and it's in reruns for several weeks a year, when Stewart makes money on live concerts and the like. The fact that there's no guest host during these periods shows that this is really a vanity project -- or that Comedy Central is too cheap to pay for a true "newscast." The Daily Show's strength is showing the hypocrisy and inconsistency of political leaders and journalists, mainly by juxtaposing the right video clips and following them with a few seconds of sarcasm from Stewart. It's a badly needed public service, but bloggers are now doing the same with YouTube clips -- and without commercials or the whooping studio audience that eats up valuable time on The Daily Show. You have to give Stewart credit for interviewing serious authors who, a long time ago, would have been welcome on The Tonight Show. (Recent examples include Fareed Zakaria, author of The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad, and Jeffrey Rosen, author of The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries That Defined America.) But because the interviews last only about eight minutes, there's barely enough time for the guest to get out the requisite well-rehearsed anecdote before Stewart says, "We've only got a minute left, but I just wanted to ask you..." I know the economic reasons why an hour-long Daily Show, with interviews long enough to exercise Stewart's obvious intellect, is impossible in 2007. But that doesn't mean I have to pretend this is an adequate substitute. Previously: Lost. Next: Rescue Me.

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