I was pretty underwhelmed by the last week of The Daily Show. It is not like the show was without opportunities: There were plenty of subjects ripe for ridicule and scorn.
Take, for example, magician David Blaine’s stupid stunt where he sat in water for a week and then escaped from chains. There was a segment on the show with correspondent Jason Jones where he pretended he was going to stay with Blaine throughout the whole week, heckling and mocking him. He said he was following in the footsteps of his grandfather who did the same thing for escape artist Harry Houdini. But it was not all that funny. The funniest part was probably the continuing routine of giving each correspondent a special title for each segment. Jones, in this bit, was given the title “senior street magicologist.” Wikipedia has documented Blaine’s other acts, which seem to be less about endurance or entertainment and more about macho performance art. I found the Wikipedia summary — especially the ugly reaction he received in London — more amusing than Jones’ performance.
There were several references made on The Daily Show to Stephen Colbert’s daring, clever performance at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner where he openly mocked President Bush, who was sitting nearby. Stewart said he was flipping through C-Span when he came across Colbert doing his shtick, hailing the chief in his own special way. Colbert used to be on The Daily Show and now has his own show where he does a dead-on satire of blowhard Bill O’Reilly of Fox News. Stewart described the annual black-tie event as an occasion when the White House and the correspondents who cover it “consummate their loveless marriage.” Colbert’s performance has been discussed elsewhere in Blogcritics, from those who liked it to those who did not. Google has the video on its site. My favorite dig by Colbert was this suggestion he made to the White House reporters to:
Write that novel you got kicking around in your head — you know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know — fiction.
Sadly there was little on The Daily Show that was as funny, clever, or as daring as Colbert’s performance.
The best interview was with former Secretary of State Madeline Albright who was there, ostensibly, to promote her new book, The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs. She was pretty damn funny, especially when talking about President Bush and his screwed up actions on the war.
In my last column on the show, I praised Stewart for an interview he did with Kimberly Strassel of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page. It was a difficult interview, with Stewart asking one question repeatedly: “Is it not suspicious that oil companies’ profits are so high right now when the gas prices are also high?” Strassel suggested other factors are at work, including changes in supply and demand. Stewart alluded to that interview in a piece where he drew a graph with one line representing demand and one line representing supply. Then he showed the rest of his graphic illustration proving, he said, that we are all “getting boned up the ass.” Now I am no prude, but if I wanted lowbrow humor of that type, I’d watch something else. I watch The Daily Show regularly because it can be highbrow, intelligent, and witty. But there was not much of that this week. Hopefully next week will be better.