Amidst the Ferguson Coverage, I've Sorely Missed 'The Daily Show' & 'The Colbert Report'
Come Aug. 26, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report will premiere new episodes. Author David Rose will guest on the former, The Giver's Jeff Bridges and Lois Lowry on the latter. It will mark the return of a two-week hiatus, and it's essentially guaranteed to produce two interesting episodes. Because you guys, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report have been missing everything. And with all the chaos in Ferguson, I'm really missing them.
I respect that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert — not to mention their hardworking and not-as-highly-paid staffs — get a break to go on vacation, to go deal with family things or just decompress from the daily grind of producing quality comedy and quality news commentary. But The Daily Show and The Colbert Report being off the air right now is really messing with my shit.
I know what's happening in Ferguson right now is ridiculous. I know the police arrested a 90-year-old holocaust survivor and tear-gassed an 8-year-old, and the police are standing around peaceful protests with semi-automatic rifles like they're just waiting for their chance to go to town. I've felt enough outrage and pain and fear and sadness over the past week and a half to fill a person for a lifetime. Right now, what I need is satire.
There are plenty of options for those who want to inform themselves about everything going on in Ferguson, MO in the aftermath of the killing of Mike Brown. The publications and platforms hosting news from the ground in Ferguson should not go underestimated or under-appreciated — they're documenting something historic and something endlessly important. But I still need that evening block on Comedy Central to help me process all of it.
A good Daily Show or Colbert piece takes all the chaotic pieces and organizes it into some sort of cathartic order. They turn the absurdities of the American system — and all the times and ways it falls to pieces — into something you have permission to laugh at, and not just cry over. They package it in a way that's easy to share with your resistant aunt or your stubborn brother, and the shows are our media's preeminent pros at calling out bullshit. And, well, Ferguson is full of bullshit.
The last time The Daily Show and The Colbert Report went on hiatus was comparably ill-timed: The ISIS situation in Iraq escalated, Israel and Gaza were at their recent peak of terror, and on American soil the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling went down. When they came back the coverage was great (see below) but it was obvious they were over-stuffed — one has to wonder what powerful monologues we might have gotten if four nights last week had included day-by-day coverage of Brown's death and the tyrannical aftermath. There'll be a lot to cover when they return.
It should be noted that Stewart and Colbert are middle-aged white dudes, whereas I am a young biracial woman, so under my usual rubric, it wouldn't be their opinions I'd be most interested in seeking out when it comes to Ferguson. But there are two things that have put them amongst the opinions I'm most eagerly awaiting. The first is that Stewart and Colbert are certainly not the only people working for The Daily Show and The Colbert Report — they've got pretty amazing writing staffs, not to mention that I'm in dire need of a Jessica Williams and/or Larry Wilmore Ferguson weigh-in.
The second is that, of all the middle-aged white men who won't relent their grips over America — and lo, there are many, and lo, I am weary of them — Stewart and Colbert have proven time and time again to be stalwart allies in times of American ridiculousness. At times they've even looked like responsible journalists.
They are not the authority that everybody needs right now — depending who you're talking to, they're not an authority at all. But to me, their services have always been valuable, and while Twitter's been booming every night with live accounts of the horror in Ferguson, their shows have been a catharsis sorely missed.
It should also be noted, of course, that John Oliver did a damn good job:
Another thing of note: With Colbert's move to take over David Letterman's seat looming, The Colbert Report's days are numbered. This is big for those of us who found a weird comfort in Colbert's mix of bombastic right-wing character acting and deep-cutting satire. As Splitsider's Megh Wright wrote when news broke of The Colbert Report 's end:
Stewart goes by the brain, but Colbert goes by the gut (the home of truthiness), and a magical chemistry exists between The Daily Show's cold hard reality-style reporting versus the more deadpan faux-sarcastic vibe over in Colbert land — he's the tasty chaser after a shot of something much harder. Soon, though, this ideal late night pairing will split up for good.
These are the waning days of a prolonged moment that's provided a much-needed flavor to American political discourse. It just feels kind of wrong to not have them around when it seems like the very fabric of our country's falling down around us.
Image: Comedy Central