The coronavirus pandemic has posed a challenge for entertainers everywhere, including talk show hosts who have decided to steer into the skid, resuming their daily or weekly broadcasts from home and using their self-isolation measures to fuel their comedy. For instance, “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” — er, “The Daily Social Distancing Show with Trevor Noah” — has been a model of scrappy perseverance. Watch Noah’s commemoration of his one-month “quarantineversary” above.
“The Daily Show” decided to suspend studio broadcast in mid-March, and amid the uncertainty Trevor Noah started shooting online segments from home. Comedy Central quickly picked those up to broadcast in the show’s usual Monday-through-Thursday late-night time slot. And the show itself has polished its new improvised setup over the weeks, with Noah gamely doing one-man-band comedy bids without the benefit of a studio audience but with the help of nimble editing that retains the show’s snappy comedic timing even without the immediate feedback of a laughing crowd.
And the show continues to incorporate correspondents Desi Lydic, Jaboukie Young-White, Ronny Chieng, Roy Wood Jr., Michael Kosta and Dulcé Sloan doing segments with Noah or interviewing guest experts. We at Gold Derby were doing webcam interviews before they were cool, so I can attest how impressive it is to remotely chat with guests while doing jokes in character — it’s tricky enough to be yourself while managing your own mise-en-scene, not to mention your WiFi. And to do all this while making stories about COVID-19 both informative and funny is a fine line Noah, Samantha Bee, John Oliver and more have successfully walked in the last month.
A professional studio setting doesn’t hurt when putting on a good show, but one important takeaway from this crisis might be that you don’t always need the bells and whistles of production if you have good writing, research, delivery and a strong relationship with your audience. The show must go on, so it’s comforting in and of itself to know that the show still can go on.
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