First airing on July 24, 1996 and still in production, The Daily Show is the longest running show to appear on the Comedy Central cable network. The show has been awarded 22 primetime Emmy awards during its nearly 20 year run. Described by the network as a fake news program, early episodes had more content based on pop culture, but fairly quickly the focus shifted to make the themes of The Daily show more politically oriented. At its heart, the show is a comedy and satire show, taking aim and lampooning recent news, events, and especially politics and politicians.
From the show’s premier and up until December 17, 1998, The Daily Show was hosted by Craig Kilborn. On January 11, 1999 Jon Stewart, the show’s most popular and longest sitting host, took over the reigns. As his tenure began, the show was officially retitled to The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. Stewart is said to be largely responsible for the shift towards more political material on the show, as he was also involved in the writing behind the scenes in addition to hosting duties in front of the camera. On February 10, 2015 Stewart announced that he would be leaving the show. Comedy Central quickly announced that the show would continue without him. His final episode as host of the show aired on August 6, 2015. Becoming the third host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah made his debut on September 28, 2015. The show, now making news itself, was simulcast by parent company Viacom on 12 different channels.
A typical episode of the 30 minute show would open with a monologue highlighting some of the most recent headlines and events, and of course, poking fun with witty and sarcastic remarks about most of them. During the monologue, where Stewart often played the “straight man”, there would be exaggerated exchanges and discussions with some of the show’s correspondents, who often portrayed points of view verging on insanity. The show would sometimes break, going to a correspondent supposedly on location somewhere, to continue with some of the more popular stories. The end of each episode is typically reserved for an interview segment. Guests are usually celebrities or well known politicians having something to do with current news and events, but there have also been occasional unknown guests who were selected because they have or had special involvement in real issues that Stewart wanted to discuss.
While the show is quite clearly designed to be an entertainment program, and not a real news program, it has managed to become an important part of the television news industry in the US. The Daily Show quite often turns things around and says things that most people are probably thinking to themselves as they watch real news broadcasts. They’ve been able to make the news somewhat two-way instead of just one sided, allowing the viewer to see what happens when someone answers back to the reports broadcast by the mainstream media. When something just seems unbelievable, or looks like it might be a cover up of some kind, The Daily Show will call it out and put it in the spotlight and let everyone know that we’re not falling for that. While the show is not a place to get 100% factual information on what is going on in the world, it does a great job of bringing current events to the attention of younger audiences and at least getting them curious enough to see what is going on out there and look further into it for themselves.
The series is showing no signs of letting up. It has been a great success for Comedy Central and has become, somehow, a part of the television culture now. Audiences will likely be able to find The Daily Show available and churning out new episodes for quite some time to come. For now, you can catch the show on Comedy Central Monday through Thursday, and there are always plenty of episodes and clips available online through the show’s Facebook page or the Comedy Central web site.