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‘The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’

An Overview


‘The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’

'The Daily Show' on location in St. Paul, Minn., during the 2008 presidential elections. Host Jon Stewart, left, interacts with correspondent Jason Jones.

Getty Images/Ethan Miller

Fast Facts

Title: The Daily Show

Host: Jon Stewart (1999 - Present)

Former host: Craig Kilborn (1996 - 1998)

Title Music: Written by Bob Mould and performed by celebrated indie rock band They Might Be Giants.


Notable former correspondents:

  • Stephen Colbert
  • Steve Carrell
  • A. Whitney Brown
  • Rob Corddry
  • Frank DeCaro
  • Vance DeGeneres
  • Rachael Harris
  • Ed Helms
  • Beth Littleford
  • Rob Riggle
  • Mo Rocca
  • Brian Unger
  • Nancy Walls
  • Matt Walsh
  • Lizz Winstead

Format: Half-hour, mock national news program.

Broadcast information: 11 p.m. ET on Comedy Central.

Tapes: Weekdays, originating from The Daily Show studio in New York City.

Premiere Date: July 1996


This tight half-hour (22 minutes without commercials) is divided into three acts.

  • Open with host Jon Stewart delivering the headline news. Stewart gives his satirical spin on the days news, political wrangling or media foibles. Typically, the segment will end with a field report or commentary from one of the show's correspondents.
  • The second act tends to be either a taped report from a correspondent, usually poking fun a local news stories and features by actually going to those locations and interviewing the actual news players, or editorial commentary from Stewart.
  • The third act is an interview with a topical guest. In recent years, the show has turned toward political figures, journalists, authors and pundits as regular guests. Visits by celebrities pitching films and TV programs have almost taken a backseat to this more dynamic exchange.
  • A check-in with Stephen Colbert and what's coming up on The Colbert Report and "Your Moment of Zen."

Over the years, the show has grown both in popularity and prominence, as its topical humor and satirical take on the news and news media has grown sharper and more focused. Stewart displays his intellectualism with each interview, and has been known to conduct tough interviews with prominent governmental and business leaders. Notable guests include former U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, President-elect Barack Obama, Senator John McCain, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf and more.

And while show regulars, especially, Stewart, shrug off the notion that many get their news from The Daily Show, it is evident that the program is the cable version of the Op-Ed page - or if not that, at least the Op-Ed page's political cartoon. The show also serves as a vehicle for calling out poor or incomplete reporting by the media and reducing the spin of public relation machines to nothing.

A Very Brief History

The show was created in 1993 by Madeleine Smithberg and Lizz Winstead as a replacement of sorts to the wildly popular Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher.

The comedic duo pulled together the writing talent and developed the content that would drive the show. The show's first host, Kilborn, was hired by others at Comedy Central.

Conflict ensued almost from the get-go, and Kilborn was alleged to berate his staff in sexist and egotistical ways. Kilborn lasted less than two years. Winstead, who is reported to have taken the brunt of Kilborn's wrath, quit shortly before him.

Stewart arrived four weeks after Kilborn left and the show has never looked back. Stewart retained much of the staff and on-air correspondents and let regular segments naturally evolve in the show's updated format. Stewart hired former writers from the satirical newspaper The Onion and became a writer as well. He shifted the show's focus from character-driven pieces and somewhat harsh send-ups of local news stories to a more news focused program with less bitter field reports.

The show's turning point may have been the 2000 election when Daily Show correspondents joined real journalists on the campaign trail during the inaugural Indecision series of election reporting. The stunt caught the eye of viewers and news reporters, and the show soon started attracting bigger names in political and punditry, nearly becoming a must stop for anyone trying to appeal to younger voters and decision makers.

Popular Segments:

Your Moment of Zen: The program ends each night with a short video clip of a random bit of video, usually pulled from satellite feed or newswire video. Occasionally it will pertain to the day's news.

Mess O' Potamia: The show's regular coverage of events in the Middle East.

Back in Black: Contributor Lewis Black shares his grumpy and grizzled thoughts on any number of subjects. This segment is less frequent, but just as popular, as it was when it was on at least once a week.

This Week in God: Correspondent Samantha Bee reports on goings on in the spiritual world.

Even Stephven: Retired since the departure of correspondents Stephen Colbert and Steve Carrell, but still a fan favorite. Stephen and Steven would take sides on an issue, often getting off track and blowing whatever topic they were discussing completely out of proportion.

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