Jennifer Flanz interview: ‘The Daily Show with Trevor Noah’ executive producer

It was after 8:30 p.m. on the East Coast on May 2, 2022, when Politico published a bombshell story: a leaked copy of an initial draft majority opinion that revealed the United States Supreme Court planned to overturn Roe v. Wade. The Politico report, one of the most unprecedented scoops in modern history, sparked massive breaking news coverage of the potential ruling in newsrooms around the country – and at least one late-night show.

“I hate to make us all sound like a bunch of losers, but we are constantly in contact with each other,” Jennifer Flanz, the longtime executive producer of “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” reveals in an exclusive video interview. “So we’re a little bit immersed in it. Which I always think is very good. Because I think, as a person, had I not worked at ‘The Daily Show,’ I would have been a person at the office that was by the watercooler being like, ‘Did you see this? Did you see that?’ So at least now I work with a ton of people that say, ‘Did you see this?’ And we get to do it together.” She joined our Gold Derby “Meet the Experts” panel for showrunners.

Flanz, a seven-time Emmy Award winner and 15-time nominee for her work on “The Daily Show” under both hosts Jon Stewart and Noah, says when it came to the Politico story about abortion rights in America, the first conversation she had with Noah was about how to proceed. Taping of the Monday night show had already been completed, so it was a matter of not just mobilizing the “Daily Show” digital team to produce content for social media but also trying to figure out what to do on Tuesday’s episode.

“I immediately said to Trevor, ‘Do we want to get somebody for tomorrow on the show as a guest?’ That oftentimes is the way we’d want to cover a story that big – let’s talk to an expert,” Flanz explains on the Gold Derby Meet the Experts: Showrunners panel. “But it was also like, ‘Oh, let’s give it a beat. Let’s wait till the morning, sleep on it, and see where this lands’ – because it was a leak. It wasn’t a decision. So we wanted to see where this landed, and it landed in a very sad place. I think we brought on Senator Amy Klobuchar that day to speak about it. And we had already booked Bill Gates, who had plenty to say on it as well. And we made sure to use Desi Lydic, who’s super passionate about the topic and came with a lot of great jokes and tears. And then Trevor, you know, [came up with] the most thoughtful ways to cover it.”

That kind of thoughtful, 360-degree approach to news is one of the reasons “The Daily Show” has remained relevant through five U.S. presidents and thousands of episodes. But Flanz says the staff always remembers a key thing about “The Daily Show” is that it’s a comedy series. “We want to make jokes. But we do hold ourselves to like a pretty high journalistic standard, making sure that everything is fact-checked, and there is no ‘fake news’ on our show,” she says. The goal, according to Flanz, is to make sure the audience is informed about the news – a task she takes very seriously.

“I used to laugh when people would say, ‘Oh, you know, young people get their news from ‘The Daily Show,’” she says. “Now, I just think, well, at least kids are getting their news from somewhere. I’m glad it’s not just Twitter…. The hope is that they watch ‘The Daily Show’ or clips of ‘The Daily Show’ wherever they’re aggregated online and on social and then get interested in the headline or the topic and then go Google around and learn more. But I’m glad that it’s a show that gets, you know, younger people or whoever interested in learning about what’s going on in the world around them.”

“The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” airs nightly on Comedy Central.

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UPLOADED Jul 12, 2022 11:00 am