By now, everyone knows about The Daily Show, right?
First hitting the airwaves in 1996 in a forgettable burst of mediocrity, The Daily Show kicked it into high gear in 1999 under its new anchor Jon Stewart, just in time to provide innovative coverage of the 2000 US election. Who better to cover that piece of history than a group of comedians posing as journalists?
Despite their comedic intentions, Stewart and Co. now find themselves heading up one of the most prominent juggernauts in the field of political punditry. Though Stewart himself recoils at the suggestion of being a legit journalist, several studies, including a 2006 report from Indiana University, support the idea that The Daily Show has become the main source of political information for a large segment of society.
In terms of news content, a 2007 analysis by the Project for Excellence in Journalism showed that The Daily Show was nearly as thorough as the U.S. network newscasts. If network anchors like Brian Williams weren’t regular guests on The Daily Show, an acknowledgment to its cultural impact, one might think they should take that personally.
Even so, the ultimate goal is still comedy and they have brought that comedy to the pages of a variety of books. If you want to watch The Daily Show there are a few books you need to read to get the full story.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents, America: The Book
4 Stars out of 5
America: The Book is a stylized examination of the U.S. of A., focusing on the aspects of its modern culture but also discussing the history of the country. It’s also ridiculously funny. The book is laid out like a Grade 10 history textbook with sections on the U.S. political system, the media and the rest of the world in under forty pages. It includes quizzes, teacher resources and a disturbing portrait of the Supreme Court Justices nude. Eww. The book is an exceptional extension of the show’s comedy style and offers a more in depth look at some of the issues discussed on a nightly basis.
Stephen Colbert, I Am America (And So Can You!)
4 Stars out of 5
In 2005, Stephen Colbert, the longest-serving “Daily Show” correspondent, moved from the safe pastures of Jon Stewart’s watchful eye to the verbal slaughter house of “The Colbert Report.” And you can’t spell “slaughter’ without “laughter”. The book reflects the style of comedy used on “The Colbert Report” well; the margins are filled with asides similar to those used in The Word segment that offer a sarcastic counterpoint to the extreme right-wing nature of the text. And, much like the show, the main point of the book is to further educate us on Colbert’s superiority in every facet. The book even won an award prior to publication as emblazoned on the front cover; The Stephen T. Colbert Award for Literary Excellence.
Lewis Black, Me of Little Faith
3.5 Stars out of 5
Comedian Lewis Black has become well-known across North America for his Daily Show segment, ”Back in Black”, where he uses his intense/yelling stand up style to rant about those stories that “fall through the cracks.” But he also has a burgeoning writing career, with the release of his second book Me of Little Faith this summer. The loud-mouthed comedian translates the intensity of his verbal style to the page extremely well, covering numerous topics from both his personal life and American culture. It is a quick read with some extremely short chapters but his observations are laugh-out-loud funny… as long as you’re not someone offended by non-stop “f-bombs.”
John Hodgman, The Areas of My Expertise
4.5 Stars out of 5
John Hodgman is probably the least, best known Daily Show correspondent; he has been prominently featured in Apple’s “Mac versus PC” campaign as the PC to Justin Long’s Mac. His role on The Daily Show is as their expert on everything who knows nothing about anything. The book covers an insane variety of topics from the details of the fifty states, including the secret ones, to an abbreviated timeline of the lobster in America. Each chapter opens with a lycanthropy timetable to help you figure out what kind of werewolf you’ll turn into when. And there is a chapter explaining everything you ever wanted to know about hoboes, including 700 of the top hobo names. The paperback has an additional 200. What makes Hodgman funny is the level of commitment; he is so convincing that you actually find his fake knowledge pushing real knowledge out of your brain.