The Daily Show Approaches Shakespeare

I have mixed feelings about The Daily Show. I’ve watched it for years; politically, I’m a life-long leftie. So I should be the ideal viewer.

Lately, however, it hasn’t felt as sharp. John Oliver’s new series, This Week Tonight, for instance, has a tightness of design, a density of comedy, and an intelligence that makes The Daily Show look a bit amateurish in comparison.

In particular, the segments by Jon Stewart’s team of correspondents rarely feel that funny. It was a little horrifying, for instance, to see Jason Jones flown over to India to produce three pieces on the Indian election, and see him stick to the same schtick throughout, that of the loveably ignorant American. It just felt half-hearted.

However, this recent monologue and sketch, “Murder, So Rote,” was in a different league. My God. Coleridge might have felt it “Worthy of Shakespeare.” As you’ll see, the opening monologue goes on until about the 3.40 mark. It’s a pretty standard Jon Stewart monologue, with some good and some non-sequiter-ish jokes. But then the correspondents take over, and their song and dance routine is incredible.

Suddenly, the target of the comedy is not some deliberately “outrageous” claim made on Fox News: the target, instead, is us–our constant search for distraction, our appetite for significance-free sentimentality. We are idly entertained while great horrors go on just outside the field of what we choose to see.

Highly recommended:

(this might be a better version of the video, only I can’t embed it in the post.)

2 thoughts on “The Daily Show Approaches Shakespeare

  1. I like his programme too! John Oliver’s team has all week to prepare, though. The challenges of making daily content must be incredible–sometimes you see Stewart come out with jokes that probably sounded good in the writers’ room, but there was no time to test them out, polish.

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