Comic relief at fest

'Daily Show' gets spotlight at Paley TV event

The ongoing William S. Paley Television Festival at the DGA is packed with back-to-back events: As “The Daily Show’s” Jon Stewart said Friday, “If you came early you saw ‘The Bernie Mac Show’ and if you stay here, you’ll get ‘Queer as Folk’ after us.”

After highlights from the “Daily Show,” which parodies TV journalism (motto: “Where more people get their news than should”), came the questions, moderated by the Museum of TV and Radio prexy Bob Batscha for Stewart and cast members (“field correspondents”) Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell, producer Madeleine Smithberg and writer Ben Karlin.

A big guy in a Hawaiian shirt asked: Where does “The Daily Show” find the regular people it features?

According to Smithberg “The Daily Show” has a great research department that finds the ordinary people with strange quirks. Not just, as Colbert said, “the guy with a UFO in his front yard.” Sometimes, it’s the mayor of a small town that has banned Satan.

“There is no gratuitous mean-spiritedness,” added Stewart, who hosts the show on Comedy Central.

Carell said, “I like to think of them as a co-star and not a victim. If they think you’re a complete idiot, they’re not a victim.”

It used to be people didn’t know about “The Daily Show,” but now pretty much everyone is aware. So when they go out on the field, people recognize soon that this is not CNN.

Colbert and Smithberg did an imitation of how the conversation usually goes. “They ask’Where are you from?,’ ” Colbert said. Smithberg came back with: “It’s a small cable channel from New York. I don’t know if you get it here, it’s Channel 45 or is it Channel 47?”

“But if they ask which network is it, we have to say Comedy Central,” Colbert said while making a motion like he was packing up to leave.

As for whether journalism is a necessary background, Colbert proudly pointed several times to his days (both of them) on “Good Morning America,” while the others have a comedy history.

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