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Published on November 10th, 2008 | by Sharilyn Johnson


Daily Show Regrets

Go read the Apiary! My recap of the Potentially Regrettable Evening with the Daily Show is right there in shiny blogtastic form.

One quote I didn’t include, because it’s only amusing to me, was when J.R. Havlan mentioned his Writing for the Daily Show class at the PIT:

“I don’t do it anymore. I don’t like it.”

He says this with one of his students from the last class (ME) sitting right infront of him. Interestingly enough, being told I’m just a tiny bit responsible for ruining a man’s love of teaching is some of the least harsh feedback I’ve received from the guy. (I do love ya, J.R.)


Speaking of regrettable evenings and the Daily Show…

I want to thank everyone for their reaction to my entry regarding election night. All of you who commented here, sent me messages, and linked to it from other blogs/forums have been amazing. Every single message has been 100% supportive, and I’m comforted by the fact that word has travelled so far. My jaw drops every time I look at my stats.

I’m back in Toronto, and I wish I could say I felt better. But what was a negligent move by the audience department last week is now an issue that Jon Stewart himself needs to take responsibility for. As an executive producer, a hands-on manager, and the public face of that organization, it’s his job to handle this mess from this point forward. Thusfar, he has not.

The Daily Show, through its comedy, promotes accountability, calls out hypocrisy, and “tries to identify the true intention of the person being talked about” (as Stephen Colbert says about Jon).

The hypocrisy of mistreating the people responsible for the show’s commercial success, and the audience department’s intention to save themselves trouble by turning their backs on us, requires accountability.

Each day that goes by without a response, I lose more faith in the man and the institution I’ve thought so highly of for so long. If I sound brokenhearted, it’s because I am.

Today’s (Monday’s) taping has been cancelled to give the staff a day off, but as of yet they haven’t notified the audience members. If 300 people show up at the studio today, it’s confirmation that somebody is trying to get themselves fired. But the way things are going? It’s doubtful anyone will be.

All I can ask is for Jon to prove me wrong.

ETA 11/11: In my intitial post about election night, there are a few small details I left out that might help people with the full picture.

-The October 27 email asking for further confirmation is *highly* unusual, and has never occured for a taping I’ve attended or one that any of my friends have attended (as far as I know, they’d never done this before). It would have only been sent out because the audience department knew there was trouble.

-The offer of VIP tickets is standard for any ticket holders not making it into the studio. If you go on a regular taping day, and are dumb enough to show up 30 seconds before the time cutoff (4:30), you aren’t getting in. But you are put in the VIP list for a future taping. VIP tickets really are a nothing offer.

-The day of the election night show, at 4:30 pm, an additional desperate email was sent to ticket holders repeating that if they didn’t intend to come, and did not cancel their tickets, they would be banned from future tapings. Of course, that email *should* have read “if you weren’t in line 2 hours ago, you aren’t getting in”.

-Among the VIPs in the studio were relatives of CC execs, Tim Robbins, and in the standing-room area Robin Williams and Billy Crystal.

-The audience department has been made aware of the effects their actions have had on the fanbase (I’ve heard a lot of strong emotion coming from people who weren’t even there). Additional staff knows as well, but I have not received nor am I asking for a response from them (it’s not their job!).


About the Author

is the author of the book Bears & Balls: The Colbert Report A-Z. Called "one of the city’s most discriminating comedy critics” by NOW Magazine, Sharilyn has been covering comedy for longer than she cares to admit. She served as the comedy reporter for Winnipeg's Uptown Magazine for five years, and was the host of the radio show Laugh Tracks for three seasons. Her work has also appeared in the Toronto Star, the Winnipeg Free Press, The Apiary, and on CBC Radio's national comedy programs LOL and Definitely Not the Opera.

19 Responses to Daily Show Regrets

  1. Jessica says:

    I commented on the entry in thedailyshow community, and was very puzzled myself why they hadn’t canceled tickets – it (was) the DAY BEFORE the taping! That’s crazy.

    I’m still infuriated by this whole mess – and I was nowhere close to New York that night.

  2. @ Jessica – Yes, and there likely won’t be anyone in the office today to have sent out last-minute emails. I’m very curious to hear what happens, whether everyone shows up, or whether only some people didn’t get a cancellation. I can think of two other times when TDS cancelled an episode on fairly late notice. One was when Jon’s wife gave birth (I think to their second kid), and the other was in late ’05 after one of the staff members passed away suddenly. On one of those occasions, the ticketholders only found out once they arrived at the studio (there was a sign on the door). So as far as a track record goes… audience department gets another F.

  3. @ Myself — I’m getting the impression that tonight’s break for TDS/TCR was on the production calendar *much* longer than the public has been aware of it, which potentially makes today’s ticketing situation even worse. If anyone hears of people showing up at the studio in the next few hours, post about it here.

  4. DUDE. You got Gawkered. It’s not good (but in the end they still have sympathy for the situation) but I feel about these things the way I do about telling someone about their skirt being tucked in their hose….you should know.

    Why don’t I have your email address?

  5. @ Catherine — just seconds ago I posted a response.

    You don’t have my email because we’re facebook mavericks, doll! Although the best news to come out of this: I think I’ll be able to make it to your party Saturday.

  6. What surprises me (but probably doesn’t surprise you in the least) is, with all the attention your experience is getting in the blog-o-sphere, it’s nearly impossible that at the very least someone at the Daily Show hasn’t read this, and definitely not outside the realm of possibility that Jon himself doesn’t know about this (after all isn’t it his job to have his finger on the pulse of everything that goes on?) And, as you point out, no one, especially not Jon, has said anything. *Anything*. This surprises (and worries and alarms me), I’m sure it doesn’t surprise you at all by now.

    Hope I’m of some kind of help to you, I’m terrible with trying to comfort people, and never have the right words to say in situations …

  7. @ David — I think you’ve hit on something that nobody else has: that deep down I guess I’m not surprised. Jon does a joke in his standup… “What do Americans really think of Canada? We don’t.” That’s a good way of also describing how he regards his fans, and we’ve known that for a number of years.

    Which is absolutely fine — It’s his right to prevent his ego from swelling, to avoid awkward conversations, to protect his privacy, or just want to ensure personal safety. I don’t think anyone can fault a celebrity for choosing to have a non-relationship with their audience.

    But it’s hard to tell the difference between neutrality and “fuck ’em”. I always knew the latter was a possibility, so it’s not a total surprise to see it actually be the case. Just one more thing to be sad about. (wait, sorry, enraged… I forgot that I’m supposed to be on a “rampage”)

  8. ohmygoshitsjosh says:

    I think you’re being a tad extreme with this. I read your initial blog post as well, and all I can think is “mellow out”. I’ve seen every episode of the Colbert Report on 1st air (yes, I am very much a fan), and started watching the daily show about a year before, with just about as good a record. I have been able to attend exactly one taping of Colbert, since that is all my budget allows (more travel time than Toronto as well).

    Your initial post had some things that I saw as massive oversight, you know as well as I do that the Daily Show cares VERY much for its fans. You said that you couldn’t get in because somebody’s hairdresser, or something like that, was considered a VIP. You also said that “they should have seen this coming, they have had election coverage before”.

    Come on, really? Do you really think anybody working at TDS would give the go-ahead to screw a fan out of a seat because some nobody happened to show up? I think not. And when was the last time there was a presidential election? 2004?

    If I’m not mistaken, not only does the Daily Show have a MUCH bigger studio now, accomodating a LOT more audience, but they also have a MUCH bigger audience than they did 4 years ago. I don’t see how they could have reasonably forseen what kind of VIP attendence they would get, with the exception of maybe a ballpark figure. Nobody could have foreseen the response that they did get.

    Were you the biggest fan that didn’t get in? I really don’t think so. Bigger fans exist, they may not “know” the staff, but they are just as much, if not more, dedicated. I know this for the specific reason that I don’t see such anger coming from other outlets.

    TDS staff is good people. The other fans I speak of know this. They know very well that TDS tried very hard to get in everybody they could, and treating fans equally is very important.

    Had you “called in favors” or whatever to get yourself in, when there were people who had been waiting in line longer than you were (and not seen the taping live in the past) got themselves screwed out of the opportunity, I frankly would have been insulted. Abusing connections like that for somebody who has had the experience before, cheating out somebody who had waited longer, is deplorable. To say that they could have done “something” about it is to say that you can stop a tsunami.

    And you did not miss “the world change”. Almost none of the results were in at the time of the taping, TDS was reporting even 0%’s. The official result was not in until well after the taping.

    and the inaguration is not until the 20th, of January.

  9. ohmygoshitsjosh says:

    oh, and I highly suggest you not “demand” a response. The staff was doing their job, and for you to attack them for doing so is not going to score you sympathy points. You are trying to pit fans against the show they love, and the man they adore. I do not know what kind of relationship you had with the staff before, other than the bits I’ve read in your blog on the past, but consider this:

    they apologized MANY times that evening. How would you like it if one of your friends simply disregarded your apology, and claims you never tried to make amends? You were offered VIP tickets, that is the BEST they can do. You were apologized to more than once. And you are spitting at any friendship you may have forged with the staff in the past to say these terrible things about them.

    If you want to salvage your standing, you cannot go on like this. The staff is not a doormat, and if respect is to be recieved, it must also be given.

  10. @ ohmygoshitsjosh

    A month after the fact, I would have hoped you could have taken 5 additional minutes to read and absorb all that I’ve written instead of skimming it. They absolutely knew, well in advance, that there was a problem with ticketing. The email they sent out in late October is evidence of that. This isn’t a problem that materialized out of thin air the day of.

    “you are spitting at any friendship you may have forged with the staff in the past to say these terrible things about them”

    No, those I know on staff have nothing to do with what happened on election night. It wasn’t their responsibility that night, and it’s not their responsibility now.

    “they apologized MANY times that evening”

    No, the audience coordinators – who were responsible for the mess – did not apologize once. They sent the security guards out to do their dirty work for them, and use the stock “we’re very sorry” line. VIP tickets are definitely not the best they could do. As you would have read in the comments on the other post, those who were there do not have an interest in ever returning to that studio.

    “If I’m not mistaken, not only does the Daily Show have a MUCH bigger studio now, accommodating a LOT more audience, but they also have a MUCH bigger audience than they did 4 years ago. I don’t see how they could have reasonably foreseen what kind of VIP attendance they would get, with the exception of maybe a ballpark figure. Nobody could have foreseen the response that they did get.”

    You’ve just exhibited the very knowledge that the audience coordinators receive a salary to have. Their job is to forsee these things. VIPs are pre-registered. And again, they knew what the numbers were shaping up to be when they sent that email out in October. They showed their hand with that.

    “Almost none of the results were in at the time of the taping”

    The election was called when they were on the air, hon.

    I “demand” nothing from the staff responsible. However, I *expect* certain things from *everyone* I encounter in life. I expect people to do the right thing, and failing that, I expect people to be accountable for their actions. The audience coordinators failed on the former, and TDS as an organization failed on the latter. Their choices directly impacted me, and I have every right to think less of them for it.

    It was Jon himself who said, when the Mets fired their manager in a less than dignified manner, “I will not root for a classless organization”. And I won’t. I don’t care how long I’ve been a fan, how much Jon had been an influence on me creatively, or how much I admire the work of the writers and correspondents. I will not be a “fan” of any organization that conducts business the way TDS did surrounding the election night debacle.

    If my stance threatens you, and you think I’m trying to talk you out of being a fan and blindly believing that “the Daily Show cares VERY much” (based on what evidence, I have no idea), then I’m sorry. But I’m honest, I’m a realist, and I’m not giving the show a free pass on incompetence just because they have a few Emmys on the shelf.

  11. ohmygoshitsjosh says:

    yes, they did know that there was a problem well ahead of the time. What exactly did you want them to do about it? They triple checked to see if there were any people who had a change of plans, and reaccomodate. I do not know what else you expected them to do, other than randomly telling people that they can’t show up.

    As for the staff, I think you are separating people of the same group. Then who are you mad at? The people who caused this “problem”? They already apologized, and offered you VIP tickets to another taping. I don’t think there is anything else that they can do, other than single you out individually and give you a special card or something. And thats asking a bit much, you weren’t the only one disappointed that night.

    The audience coordinators had their hands full at the time, I think that the massive amount of VIP’s to accomodate, along with trying to figure out how to make this logistically happen was a bit of food on their plate to deal with. I don’t remember the coordinators ever resting on their laurals just before a taping, especially one at a different time with such a massive turnout. And I still have no idea whatsoever what exactly you expected them to do, other than offer new tickets. Give you money for a free taping? If you don’t want to go back, there is nothing they can do about that. “Something” is a pretty open term.

    Yes, they did have an idea in October who is showing up. What exactly did you want them to do about it? Tell people not to come? Maybe that could work, maybe not. Would people be less annoyed? I doubt it.

    The election was not called when they were on the air. I spend most of my time studying politics, I had two news channels on all day on two TV’s in my living room, paying very close attention. The election was not called until WELL after the taping. TDS was reporting states with less than 5% reporting, I suggest you watch the taping again to notice. They reported projected figures, just like every other news station was doing all day long.

    So you expect “something”. Great, what could they possibly do? Lets see…. They could offer you VIP tickets. Thats evidently not covering it. They could offer an apology, which is what they did (if you are going to say that the security guards somehow don’t count, I really don’t know what you want).

    They could have Jon apologize on air, I guess. That really breaks the entire tone of the show to apologize to some audience members, I’m guessing that every month they have to turn away quite a few people. I know that when I attended a TCR taping in July, a LOT of people were turned away, even who had tickets (Rush taping). Some had come from far away, as I had, some from just in town. But it was a rare event, I daresay an election is in the same boat, even though we technically get one every two years.

    You will not be a fan of TDS because you didn’t get in on election night? You still have not said what would have been better, just that it was dealt with poorly. Strictly speaking, the agreement says that Comedy Central reserves the right to refuse anybody entry at any time for any reason. Other than having a lottery in October and just sending people emails saying “well, you’re SOL, your ticket is revoked”. Would that have made you happier?

    What did you want them to do? What accountibility is missing? They offered you other tickets, the fact that you don’t want them has nothing to do with it. If I am at a restaurant and there is a hair in my food, they will offer me another dish, at most revoke the check. They will not give me money. You didn’t give them any money to be there, what is missing?

    Jon let you down? How? His preformance was pretty good, I don’t think he has anything to do with the audience coordination. You had been to a taping before, you knew what to expect. You even knew this was going to happen, which is why you showed up very early. Unfortunatley, 40 other people had the same idea. YOU KNEW THIS WAS GOING TO HAPPEN.

    Your stance cannot threaten me, I am a fan of a TV show. I don’t really know what you could do to “threaten” that. The evidence that I base my opinions of the staff are VERY well founded, I can assure you. I have directly dealt with staff of Comedy Central, The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report. In all cases, they tried their utmost to enhance the experience of the audience, the only thing that ever held them back is beurocratic crap, legal and viacom mostly, and the fact that there are multiple legal entities working in tandem never helps.

    And you are not a realist. A realist is a person who has realistic expectations and is able to deal with it when it happens. A realist is not somebody who gets extremely angry when a single taping you go to didn’t get pulled off perfectly smoothly and you got turned away at the door during an event that you admittedly do not care about. I’m sorry you had to take time off work, but you really are over-reacting.

  12. @ ohmygoshitsjosh

    I’ve written very clearly in my entries and in the comments re: what I expected the show to do in advance, and what I expected the show to do after the fact. If you can tear yourself away from the sound of your own typing for long enough to read it, you’ll find the answers to all your questions.

    You’ve defended the TDS audience services staff valiantly – albeit not at all effectively – and I hope this lengthy belated defense of their fuck-ups earns you whatever it is you’re looking for. Since you’re so “tight” with the audience department, I assume you’ll drop the url to this conversation at their feet like a dead mouse and wait to be praised. But in case that doesn’t happen, I’ll do you a solid — you can have my VIP tickets.

    I considered this entire issue closed when it became clear there would be no proper apology issued from the show to the fans who were screwed over. So my motivation to discuss this further has waned significantly. But if you really want to talk about this more (and it would seem you desperately do!), I’ll give you a topic: explain what you meant by the phrase “during an event that you admittedly do not care about”. In less than 1,000 words. Go.

  13. ohmygoshitsjosh says:

    I think that you are the one who is threatened here. You have not written clearly in other comments what they should have done, you have basically just attacked them. I am not interested in getting in baseless attacks, but please do go back and remind us what you would have done in their position. And also please consider that retrospect is 20/20.

    As for defending the TDS staff, hardly. I am obviously threatening your position, and if you are not happy about that, I do apologize. I am not going to drag anything to anybody like a “dead mouse”, and I am honestly insulted that you would suggest as much. The limited contact I have had with the staff as been just that: limited.

    I don’t know why you assume that I am “getting something” out of this, but perhaps you should consider that some people simply do not agree with you. I live too far away and do not have enough money to attend a taping of anything any time soon, and the tickets are free anyway.

    You did not consider the issue closed, that would mean that you would go back to your normal self and continue enjoying the television show. The reason that the staff takes an impersonal approach to this has nothing to do with lack of caring, it has everything to do with not making an ass of themselves. They made it very clear that they are not perfect, and you knew that going in.

    As for my explaination, I’ll quote your original posting:

    “My love for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert has nothing to do with politics”

    Election night is a political event, very plain and simple.

    And less than a thousand words? I find that very little of any importance can be said in less than a thousand words, which is why I usually avoid responses in blogs.

  14. ohmygoshitsjosh says:

    I would just like to say one more time:

    You knew the situation going in. You knew exactly what was going to happen. You knew in October that they were already having problems. I believe you have been turned away at the door before, you knew it happened. You knew they over-book, always. You knew that they had VIP’s coming. You knew that seating was limited.

    There were zero suprises that night, other than the cards did not fall in your favor, which you knew was a very real possibility. You knew their response to such measures, you knew what was going to happen. So did I, so did everybody else. You seem to be simply angry that this happened to you, you know very well that this has nothing to do with lack of caring for fans, or even blunders of the audience department.

    Maybe you are special, maybe you do hold a higher position with the staff than the normal fans. Well, so do I. I did not meet Stephen when I attended his taping, and I understood very well that when you sign up for tickets and go for a taping, you are a normal, run of the mill fan. Expecting something better just because you have better standing is simply a recipe for disappointment.

  15. @ohmygoshitsjosh

    My only wish is that this issue was still relevant, so more people could be as entertained by your many paragraphs of failure as I have been. I hope to god you’re not a lawyer.

  16. ohmygoshitsjosh says:

    Well, if you are intent on attacking me instead of giving relevant answers, then I can fully understand why you are in this position.

    The day I went to the Colbert taping, Rush played. I did not know they were going to when I signed up for tickets. A lot of VIP’s were in the audience (I know because Mark asked for a show of hands), some ticket holders were turned away. Because of the increased security of both the show, and Rush’s own entourage, I was unable to stay to meet Stephen afterwards, which I had been looking forward to for literally years, not all of us have the luxury of being able to take off time from work and hop over to New York every once in a while.

    So I went home robbed of that experience. That is over 15 hours of driving, and during the peak of the summer crisis. I do not blame the show, I do not blame the staff, I do not blame the VIP’s, and I do not blame Stephen. One of the staff even envited me for drinks afterwards since I was in town, but I refused since I had to leave so early in the morning.

    I blame no-one except circumstance. I do not at all understand why you are having such abandonment issues.

  17. Oh Joshie, I could *never* feel abandoned as long as you’re here, convincing me of your superiority. Tell me more!

  18. ohmygoshitsjosh says:

    I am guessing this will be my last post.

    Great job insulting me. Really, I came with some comments and questions, and you have deflected both by just attacking. I hope you are proud.

    I suggest you look to the root of why you are mad at the show. You know exactly what their position was, and you knew it months in advance. You knew what to expect, you knew the risk. You have had the experience of attending tapings before, you did not miss anything you had not already seen.

    But you are giving me the impression that I am simply talking to a wall, except even walls seem to pretend to contemplate what you say. So stay on your high horse, if this incident really causes you to stop watching the shows altogether, you were never much of a fan in the first place.

  19. No!!!! Joshie, don’t leave me!! I’ll be good, I promise!! I’ll admit you’re completely right and that all of us TOTALLY DESERVED what happened to us on election night. Just don’t goooooo!!!!!!

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