An intimate and entertaining look at a fake-news program whose caustic, witty alchemy remains missed by many.



A lively oral history of The Daily Show focused on Jon Stewart’s improbable transformation from basic-cable comic to progressive conscience.

New York magazine contributing editor Smith deftly combines narrative with the recollections of people involved with the show at every level, ranging from boldface names like John McCain to correspondents like Stephen Colbert and Ed Helms. Stewart contributes the foreword, concurring with Smith that the show’s popularity resulted from its gradual development of an ethical center: “We never forgot what a privilege it was to have a platform.” Yet the show’s cultural impact was unforeseen when the fledgling Comedy Central network determined to create a parody news show to follow the show’s previous Craig Kilborn–hosted iteration, which “could be mean-spirited.” When Stewart took over in 1998, he ruffled feathers by trading the snarky persona for a political bent that “punched up” at powerful targets. As correspondent Mo Rocca recalls, “[Jon] had resolved that the show needed to have a point of view and couldn’t just be the kid at the back of the classroom throwing spitballs.” Following this backstage drama, the show found its voice during the 1999-2000 presidential contest, during which correspondents like Steve Carell and key writers like Ben Karlin added memorable guerrilla theater–style ambushes to both the torpid campaign and the ensuing tense deadlock. The election of George W. Bush and the horror of 9/11 and the increasingly absurd terror wars that followed set the tone for the show’s dark intensity and explosive popularity over the next decade. As John Oliver recalls about the show’s creative rigor, “Jon’s saying is, ‘If you take your foot off the throat of the show for a second, it will just get up and walk away.’ ” Smith effectively combines these reminiscences with an overall arc covering the show’s technical innovations, high-stakes internal negotiations (including spinoffs like The Colbert Report), and staffers’ contentious relationships, friendships, and shenanigans.

An intimate and entertaining look at a fake-news program whose caustic, witty alchemy remains missed by many.

Pub Date: Nov. 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4555-6538-2

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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