Daily Show in D.C.: ‘Good Comedy Doesn’t Lie’

Politico’s Kiki Ryan and CBS News’s Christine Delargy

Reading a novel in the rain.

In a wide-ranging interview with President Obama this afternoon in downtown Washington, Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show, mixed it up with POTUS, who said things like, “I love your show, but…” and “Yes we can, but…not overnight.” Obama said he didn’t want to lump Stewart in with other pundits, but then did just that. Stewart countered that he didn’t want to lump Obama in with past presidents. Other than that, it was polite handshakes and laughter and a bit where Stewart pretended to pour his water into Obama’s coffee cup. Obama pushed the cup away.

The good news: We made it into The Daily Show taping in Washington this afternoon, surviving four hours in a long line in the pounding rain. This, amid brutish Daily Show handlers who periodically stormed the crowd and barked orders. On a happier note, we got to be there for an entertaining pre-and-post-show questioning of Stewart and interview with Obama.

And the bad news: We were forbidden from taking pictures of the set or anything beyond a lobby of guests (which we sneaked) because we were threatened within an inch of our lives (sure, a slight exaggeration) by handlers dressed in varying hues of purple. Elaborating on the above, they bitched rules at us all afternoon as we tried to contain our inner chill from the relentless rain. “Line up by numbers! one ordered. Another: “Electronics off!” When one guest asked about the numbers, a purple-hued handler snapped, “You let us worry about that!” Up until seconds before making it inside, all bets were off as to whether we’d actually get in. “The blue and green tickets are the same,” one handler we dubbed “Grimace” announced. When one attendee in line jokingly questioned her, she joked back, “Don’t make me stab you.” Some 200 sad souls behind us in line didn’t make it in despite waiting for many hours alongside us. And that, with many spare seats in the Harman Center for the Arts balcony.

A special note of thanks to…former Time scribe Tim Burger for the vanilla latte and coffee mid downpour.

Getting warmed up…

FishbowlDC and QGA’s Matt Dornic enduring the downpour.

By the day’s end, Dornic’s shoes were soggy, slimy and uncomfortable.

The Purple Handler (a.k.a. Grimace): “I will stab you,” she joked to a man in line.

Once seated and after listening to blasting songs like Don Henley‘s “Dirty Laundry,” comedian and “warm-up monkey” Paul Mercurio came out to warm up the crowd. “I need you to be loud,” he said repeatedly, adding that laughter needed to be “guttural.”

Soon enough, Stewart came on stage and engaged in a pre-show chat with the audience.  He took questions. For instance, Q: Who’s your favorite congressman? A: It’s hard to have a favorite – they’re all so good. I like Barney Frank. He’s the cute one. I like the ones who waste my f–kin’ time on C-SPAN. Q: What do you tape on your DVR? A: I have a 6 and 4-year-old so I’m not allowed to DVR anything but Sponge Bob.

“I had prepared 10 minutes of fart jokes,” Stewart said finally, pretending to be exasperated by all the questions. “Now I don’t know what to do!”

Shortly thereafter it was time. “Let’s get the damn show started!” Stewart said before running to his desk.

The weekend rally: ‘It’s going to be a ball.”

Post show, Stewart came before the audience again to talk, take questions, express  thanks and ask everyone to attend his rally on the National Mall. “That’s the show,” he said. “That’s why you stood out in the rain for nine hours with horse manure. I hope you had a nice time. I hope you come back and see us again.”

Onto more audience interaction. One woman thanked Stewart for supporting funding for the Trust for the National Mall, which aims to restore Mall grounds. “Do you work for them?” Stewart asked her. “I run the organization,” she replied. To which Stewart said, “I run sh-t too.” Q: Was Stewart nervous interviewing Obama? A: Yes, I was. Q: Why do you have so many papers? You never even look at them. A: I’m in D.C. and you’re asking me questions about stage craft? Those aren’t real columns. It’s all bullsh-t.” Q: What was Stewart thinking as he interviewed Obama? A: Down boy. Down boy. It wasn’t the time to challenge assertions but delve into [the topic of] I thought we were going to change. Q: Are you going to call [Tucker] Carlson and tell him to kiss your a–? A: No.

Journos spotted in the rain: The Cable‘s Josh Rogin, Politico’s Kiki Ryan, CBS’s Christine Delargy and an NBC cameraman and producer. Delargy’s pants were so drenched that she fled to the nearest Ann Taylor to purchase a pair of $30 corduroys.

Pundit Vs. Comedian Vs. Journalist

“Being a comedian is harder than being a pundit,” said Stewart. “Being a pundit you just have to open your pie hole. My point [on CNN’s  Crossfire when he called Carlson a d–k] was I have a f–king job, do yours. We don’t fact check to be good journalists. We fact check because good comedy doesn’t lie.”

Before leaving the stage, Stewart warmly invited the audience to attend the Rally for Sanity (and Fear) this weekend. “It’s gonna be a ball,” the comedian said, quickly adding, “We’ve put a great deal of thought and effort into it and we’re gonna bring it. I don’t know know if we’re going to bring it the way you want us to bring it. As the Stones would say, you may not get what you want, you may get what you need.”

He concluded, “You may waste a few hours on the mall.”