There are probably a million articles on the Internet these days talking about The Daily Show. And with good reason! It is a very good, very funny, very smart show with lots of good things to write about. About how great Jon Stewart is as host, or John Oliver's wonderful job as interim host, or delight/disgust over the fact that The Daily Show is oftentimes better a source of actual political goings-on than most 24-hour news networks. There's also plenty to gripe about: remember the 857 pieces about the Comedy Central series' "lady problem?" All of which are, of course, perfectly acceptable things to discuss and argue and laud — it's proof that the show is one for the smart set.
With the return of the series' prodigal son on Tuesday night, though, it's time to come clean about what, ultimately, makes it so good: its writers. Whether it be Oliver, Stewart, or one of the many wonderful correspondents the show has seen bandy its intelligent and hilarious material, the show is consistently dynamite thanks to those behind the scenes. Sure, they win all the awards come Emmy season, but why are we not also giving credit where its due when we applaud the show in our interweb screeds and regular write-ups? Enter: me, right now. Doin' it.
The series' bangarang writing abilities were never more apparent than during Stewart's hiatus this past summer, since the show sits squarely on the shoulders of Stewart in the public's mind. And, for sure, this does not take away from Oliver or Stewart or anyone else's immense talents in delivery, performance, and style (there's nothing I want more than Oliver's all-around curmudgeon-y Britishness on my screen and in my heart at all times).
But! When it comes to getting to the heart of the matter, it is not just the exasperated way in which these folks broadcast the absurdity of the news today, it's the pinpoint accuracy with which those words are chosen, ordered, and cued up on the page. The men (and, sigh, yes, very few) women that scour the news and get to the emotional and practical heart of the matter each and every day are the ones to thank for that. Not only do they know how to write the news, they know how to write for each and every person involved in "reporting" that news to its ravenous public.
So after tonight's return of Stewart to The Daily Show, when you and your incredibly intelligent (and so good-looking!) friends are sitting around extolling the virtues of Oliver vs. Stewart (vs. Craig Kliborn? Anyone? Is anyone on his team?), remember that the backbone of those show is in its words (and the unending supply of absolute batshittery that is living in the world in 2013).
So go ahead: give yourselves a pat on the back, you crazy kids: job well done. We'd have nothing without you, disheveled and squirrelly neurotic writerpeople. Now go trim your facial hair and clean your glasses. Those Emmys ain't gonna shine themselves.