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Weekly Alibi "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central

All the News That's Fit to Mock

By Devin D. O'Leary

AUGUST 10, 1998: 

"The new ('60 Minutes') will feature younger correspondents--possibly even men with prostates"
--Craig Kilborn on "The Daily Show"

One of the surest signs of showbiz popularity in today's word is how often you're quoted in Entertainment Weekly. Take, for example, EW's "Sound Bites" column. This short sidebar features amusing quotes from the previous week's TV shows. The hipper and funnier you are, the more often you'll be quoted. David Letterman still makes it in on a weekly basis. Conan O'Brien gets in regularly. Even Jay Leno occasionally manages to get one of his jokes reprinted. "Sound Bites" is a fine litmus test to see who's hot in Hollywood. Norm MacDonald, former "Weekend Update" host for "Saturday Night Live," got quoted all the time; but new "WU" host Colin Quinn has only been in once or twice. Lately, I've noticed that one tiny cable TV show has been making it into "Sound Bites" with startling regularity. That show is Comedy Central's "The Daily Show."

The news parody show recently celebrated its second anniversary and consistently scores as one of CC's ratings high points. The show features a cast of investigative reporters who go out and hunt down real news stories--although, admittedly, the stories are skewed toward "TDS'" particular brand of snarky humor. A. Whitney Brown, Brian Ungar, Beth Littleford and Steven Colbert form "The Daily Show's" crack reporting team. Together they have broken stories on Florida's "Skunk Ape," investigated urine testing and exposed David Cassidy as an egotistical bastard. Host Craig Kilborn, with his network newscaster hair and rude sense of humor, has attracted plenty of attention to the sophomore show. Kilborn's "Five Questions"--in which a celebrity is grilled on a quintet of pointless trivia questions-- remains one of the show's most memorable segments.

Kilborn has attracted so much attention, in fact, that he was recently named as the replacement for Tom Snyder on CBS' ratings-challenged "Later." Kilborn's contract with Comedy Central runs through August of 1999, but it looks like the station is willing to let him go once they find a replacement. Naturally, they're taking their own sweet time about it. Correspondent Brian Ungar is considered the front-runner for the position.

I, for one, will be sad to see Kilborn go. I can't quite picture him holding his tongue and conducting "straight" celebrity interviews over on CBS. Kilborn's acid tongue already got him in hot water over at Comedy Central when, in a magazine interview, he made an off-color joke about "The Daily Show's" creator Liz Winstead performing certain sexual acts. Winstead quit over the incident, but the show weathered.

Execs at Comedy Central are at least showing enough intelligence to keep the popular show going. They've already lost "Mystery Science Theater 3000" to The Sci-Fi Channel and "Politically Incorrect" to ABC. Here's hoping "The Daily Show" survives the changes--I'd hate to have to start watching real news shows again.

"The Daily Show" runs every weekday on Comedy Central at 11 a.m., 5 p.m. and 9 p.m.

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