The Man Behind The Daily Show's Curtain


I was watching the incredible John Oliver’s brilliant piece on Fox News on The Daily Show the other day and actively wondering — how do they find all of this footage? Oliver’s piece started off by making fun of a Fox News documentary on the Bush presidency, but ended up just making fun of Fox News as an entity — not new ground, certainly, but Oliver did a highly effective job of it.

What made the piece so effective was all the back-and-forth footage The Daily Show unearthed. At one point, the Fox News pundits were going off on how Bill Clinton’s dodging of a subpoena was anti-American, but later footage showed them totally supporting George W. Bush doing pretty much the same thing. It’s exactly the kind of thing we journalists always talk about, but can never really prove because we haven’t recorded 6,000 hours of Fox News. OK, and we don’t really feel like going through all of it.

I figured The Daily Show had 100 interns stuck in a room, endlessly going through footage while snacking on Cheetos and drinking Red Bull. Turns out, it’s mostly the work of this one guy. Thank you, Paul Farhi (Washington Post features writer I have always admired from afar) for intuiting my question and writing the piece I should have thought of and pitched to some editor somewhere and made some money on. And thank you for telling us about Adam Chodikoff, who spends his days going through Tivo recordings and transcripts of Congressional hearings and eight newspapers to come up with all the hilarity The Daily Show bestows upon us, its lucky viewers, five days a week.

There’s also a moral to this story: you can get a job that merges all your passions, and still love it and make your living at it years later. Are you taking applications, Comedy Central?