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The Daily Show (The Book): An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and Guests Hardcover – November 22, 2016
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"Zippy, smart."―New York (magazine)
"Readers of this compelling history will appreciate the sweat behind every joke."―Washington Post
"Mr. Smith's book feels like a visit to a distant time."―New York Times
"[A] substantial, many-faceted oral history....This superbly well-edited choral work illuminates the enormous effort, creativity, collaboration, and hustle required for producing a hilarious, news-focused, four-times-a-week comedy show and the chutzpah necessary for taking on the powers-that-be."―Booklist
"Sometimes our book dreams get answered....If you ever longed to be in the room for epic moments like Stewart's post-9/11 on-air address, his grudge matches with Fox News, the famous Indecision presidential election coverage and more, this is your printed word moment of zen.―Detroit Free Press
"Deftly recount[s] the way Stewart's sensibilities, political realities (and unrealities), defining events like 9/11, advances in technology and changes in the television news landscape moved the show from spectator to player."―USA Today
"Smith digs deep into the show's ascendance and cultural influence as if he was one of the show's meticulous fact-checking news-tape researchers...Smith lets the show's stars, crew, and guests tell the show's unvarnished history. Fortunately, most every one interviewed-from Stephen Colbert to longtime showrunner Ben Karlin to Sen. John McCain-possesses an A-plus wit...it doesn't flinch from digging into the show's most contentious moments... in the Age of Trump, the time has never been better to delve into the minds of the masters who became a vital part of our democracy."―Entertainment Weekly
"Smith gives readers sound bites from some smart, funny and self-aware people waxing rhapsodic about their 'let's put on a show' adventures...the seeming candor of Stewart in particular gives the book a refreshing amount of depth, particularly regarding backstage drama...the real measure of the show and the book that bears its name is, did it have a point, and, moreso, was it funny in making it. The answer, on both counts, is a resounding, laugh-out-loud 'yes.'"―Chicago Tribune
"Comedy Central's The Daily Show was a cultural phenomenon, and now it gets the oral history it deserves...Smith tells the show's story through artfully arranged first-person recollections. ..it is more than a collection of famous moments, but rather a work of distinctive, original social commentary."―The National Book Review
"There is solace in this chatty and highly informative tome....THE DAILY SHOW (THE BOOK) is like eating popcorn, in that it's light and fun and easy to consume....the book is a love letter to the people that built The Daily Show and make it work night after night."―Vulture
"Lively... Smith deftly combines narrative with the recollections of people involved with the show at every level, ranging from boldface names like John McCain to correspondents like Stephen Colbert and Ed Helms....An intimate and entertaining look at a fake-news program whose caustic, witty alchemy remains missed by many."―Kirkus Reviews
"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."―Provo City Library Staff Reviews
"A must-read for the show's fans and those aspiring to a career in comedy or television."―Library Journal
"Wonderfully compiled...Certainly if you are a fan of the show you must read THE DAILY SHOW (THE BOOK)...it is a sincere blast to relive its finest moments and understand how it was achieved and more importantly remember how much it was a major part of the democratic process...Bravo, Mr. Smith."―Reality Check News & Information Desk
"The Daily Show was so obviously the signature TV series of its generation that this book's rare carping voices are almost a relief, in that keeping-things-honest way. If damn near everyone else sounds a bit in awe of what their unlikely Godfather wrought, no wonder."―Barnes & Noble Review
"Stewart even contributed the introduction. But this isn't a sanitized history. There's plenty of warts and all (and some fun hijinks as well). It's also a smart look at the business of TV and how 24-hour news channels and the rise of conservative media have changed our political culture."―Hollywood Reporter
About the Author
Chris Smith writes about politics, sports, and entertainment. He lives with his wife, son, and daughter in Brooklyn. Jon Stewart is a comedian, writer, actor, producer, director, bestselling author and former host of The Daily Show. He lives with his wife and children in New Jersey.
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I say all of this at the outset because there’s no way I can give you a review of The Daily Show (The Book) that’s not through the eyes of a fan of the show (and Stewart). If you didn’t watch this show throughout the years, watch it evolve from the snark and condescension of the Kilborn era into the earnest, trenchant powerhouse it became, I don’t know whether you’ll find this book as fascinating and compelling as I did. Yes, there’s something rich about hearing all of these creators opine about the show and its evolution, but there’s no denying that it’s more resonant, more interesting, for those of us who love the show already.
So what is The Daily Show (The Book), exactly? It’s an oral history of the show, one that starts back with the inception of the original series and follows it to the end of Stewart’s tenure, with chapters around almost every major event of the series – the Crossfire appearance, the Cramer confrontation, Indecision 2000 (and 2004 and 2008…), the love/hate tension with John McCain – all of it is covered and more. But what’s more, by making this an oral history with undeniable range, author Chris Smith allows us to hear this all from the people involved, both in front of the camera and behind. What’s more, while Smith undeniably loves the show, he allows people to be honest throughout, whether it’s McCain explaining why he quit going to the show, hearing former correspondents and staff speak with bitterness about their experiences, or diving into some of the show’s controversies (think that infamous Jezebel post about sexism in the show’s staff, or the Wyatt Cenac blowup). Even Tucker Carlson and Glenn Beck are allowed to get some digs in, making their points and giving them a chance to respond to the show’s (or Stewart’s) treatment of them.
For all of that, though, this is a history for those fascinating by how a little show on a neglected cable network became a political powerhouse, a launching point for careers, and a series that literally changed legislation and policy with its voice. It’s also a history of what it takes to make a show like this, and how the things that represented The Daily Show – contradictory video clips, correspondent pieces, hatred of Fox News, Stewart’s interview techniques – were first conceived.
It’s also, though, a wonderfully funny book, because these are funny people. From John Oliver and John Hodgman trading jabs about whiskey to correspondent pranks to further evidence that Stephen Colbert is one of the funniest people alive, the book is laugh out loud funny, with these people sometimes unable to restrain their glee and disbelief at the things they did and got away with. And sometimes, it’s a reminder that the show was funniest when it was silliest – stories of Steve Carrell’s wonderful “Produce Pete” character, or how puppets became part of the show, are just as important as the creation of The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.
In short, I can’t give you an entirely objective review of this book – I’m too big of a fan, too emotionally connected to these times and these memories to be objective. It’s a bit skewed towards the show’s reputation, I think, and tends to let the questioning voices be overpowered. But as a history of a show I loved, and a reminder of the people that shaped so much of my political and personal views, it’s a blast – funny, thoughtful, compelling, and just a great read. Highly recommended for any fan of the show – and if you’re not a fan of the show…what’s wrong with you?
Because I learned, I laughed, I became angry all over again at historical events referenced so well and discussed so insightfully (by many). I cried, happy and sad, and I am grateful the book was written.