×

‘Daily Show’ Gears Up for Late-Night’s Election Season

“The Daily Show” makes fun of CNN, but it’s not supposed to work like CNN. That dynamic will change a bit come November 6, when the Comedy Central late-night mainstay goes live on Election Night.

“In the control room, it’s madness,” says Jen Flanz, an executive producer who has been with the program since 1998, talking about the show’s increasing number of live broadcasts. “They’ll say ‘We are changing the graphics in the moment.’ That’s what the news does all the time. We are not used to doing it, but we are in live show mode, and that’s a different level.”

More of TV’s late-night programs have chosen to broadcast live on special occasions, such as during U.S. elections or after a State of the Union speech, but only “Daily Show” has been doing it since 2000. Eighteen years later, producers say they have a better feel for what they need to do, but still leave room for the unexpected. After all, their live broadcast will mark the first time host Trevor Noah has led the show’s coverage of a midterm election, although “Daily” has already broadcast live seven times during his tenure.

“If a surprising result comes in” between show segments, “we might throw something in,” says Steve Bodow, an executive producer who has been with the program since 2000. “And Trevor is great off the cuff.”

The show’s election-night coverage is just one element of a much bigger series of events around this turning point in American politics. In advance of the elections, “Daily Show” will mount a week of programs from Florida, where some of the most important issues among voters are bubbling. Noah and team will air a week of shows from The Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater starting Monday, October 29 through Thursday, November 1 at 11:00 p.m.

When the team first started doing live broadcasts during Noah’s tenure, the host was new in many senses of the word. He was taking the reins of the program from Jon Stewart and weighing in on U.S. national affairs for the first time. Both host and producers feel the live broadcasts – typically airing around party nomination conventions and other events – helped galvanize Noah, who continues to hone his stand-up career and allows the release of his between-segment chatter with the “Daily Show” studio audience.

But the show faces new completion in the format. Bill Maher, Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert have also worked out live specials around political moments and both Colbert and Meyers have announced plans to broadcast live on election night as well.

To stand apart from the pack, “Daily” producers try to make the live specials look like more of an event. They intend to use the show’s entire group of “correspondents” – new member Jaboukie Young-White should have come aboard by early November – in one broadcast. “We know we are live, but sometimes the viewer doesn’t know the difference,” said Flanz. “It’s not as exciting to them as it might feel in the building.” Some may be in studio and some may be in the field, b ut assembling the entire cast at once lends the program a different look that can bring viewers into the event more quickly says Bodow.

The show also uses social media to whet appetites, say the producers The show’s “expansion team” can tweet out jokes and ideas well before broadcast time.

“Daily Show” has done as many live shows with Noah as it did during the entire span of Stewart’s tenure, producers said. And while producers have the ability to go live quickly, they’re not sure they should abuse the power. “If we find out that there’s going to be a big thing happening, we could decide that morning” says Flanz. But the process takes a toll on the staff, she notes. “I would hope that doesn’t become a habit.”

More TV

  • SAG-AFTRA HQ

    SAG-AFTRA Ends Long Strike Against Ad Agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty

    SAG-AFTRA has ended its 10-month strike against Bartle Bogle Hegarty after the advertising agency agreed to sign the union’s new commercials contract. The union instructed its 160,000 members in September not to accept any work for BBH, which had been signed to SAG-AFTRA’s commercials contracts since 1999. The strike came two weeks after BBH publicly [...]

  • Brazilian President Jair Bolosnaro attends the

    Bolsonaro Threatens Brazil’s Central Film Fund with Censorship or Closure

    In typical shoot-from-the-hip remarks, Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro has declared that Ancine, Brazil’s powerful state-backed federal film agency, should accept “filters”or face closure. “If it can’t have a filter, we’ll close Ancine, or privatize it,” Bolsonaro added, attacking Ancine, which plows some $300 million a year into Brazil’s film and TV industries, for supporting [...]

  • Variety Cord Cutting Placeholder Cable

    CBS Stations Go Dark on AT&T's DirecTV, U-verse Platforms Amid Contract Battle

    CBS’ 28 O&O stations are going dark for about 6.6 million subscribers of AT&T’s DirecTV and U-verse platforms as the Eye and AT&T battle over a new retransmission consent contract. The blackout affects CBS and CW-affiliated stations in 14 major markets including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Also off the air are the CBS [...]

  • Orlando Bloom Comic Con Immigrant San

    Orlando Bloom Claims San Diego Mayor Ran From Comic-Con Exhibit Featuring Immigrant Characters

    Did an immigration storyline cause Republican San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer to run out of Amazon Prime Video’s Comic-Con activation this week? According to “Carnival Row” star Orlando Bloom, that’s exactly what happened. At Amazon’s “Carnival Row” panel, Bloom told the audience that Faulconer stopped by the Prime Video activation and chose the “Carnival Row” [...]

  • 'Game of Thrones' Cast Calls Final

    'Game of Thrones' Cast Calls Final Season Backlash 'Media-Led Hate Campaign'

    What is life like now after “Game of Thrones?” That’s the question that fans have been asking themselves and that cast members had to answer at the show’s final Comic-Con panel. But first, Conleth Hill, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and several others cleared the air and addressed the perceived negative response to the final season. “I don’t [...]

  • SDCC Roundup: AMC Drops 'The Walking

    SDCC TV News Roundup: AMC Releases 'The Walking Dead' Season 10 Trailer (Watch)

    San Diego Comic-Con has become a hotbed of entertainment news in recent years, especially for the television industry. In today’s SDCC TV news roundup, AMC dropped a trailer for the 10th season of “The Walking Dead” and FX released a first look at “Mayans MC” Season 2. FIRST LOOKS AMC debuted the trailer for Season [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content