R.J. Fried interview: ‘Stephen Colbert Presents Tooning Out the News’

“We take our journalism shockingly seriously for a cartoon,” admits “Tooning Out the News” showrunner R.J. Fried in our recent webchat. He continues, “We have a research team of people with cable news backgrounds. As much as we joke around, we don’t joke around.” Watch the exclusive video interview above.

“Stephen Colbert Presents Tooning Out the News” is an animated news parody on Paramount+. Its segments satirize various cable news shows and feature interviews with real life guests. This year the series has received an Emmy nomination for Short Form Comedy, Drama or Variety Series. As well as producing and writing on the show, Fried plays news anchor James Smartwood.

Fried explains, “It’s a daily animated show. No one’s ever done that before. It’s a very long intense day and comes together through the course of like 18 hours. You can’t make the mistakes cable news make. Sometimes the day moves so fast the research is inadequate or they say something completely wrong. If we are going to satirize those people we can’t do the same thing. There’s a lot of pressure to make sure we get it all right. We actually have a fact check. There’s no non-factual information on the show.”

Fried has previously both worked in comedy, writing for “The Late Show with David Letterman” and cable news, producing for MSNBC’s “Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.” In brining these two worlds together Fried says, “The biggest thing Stephen Colbert talks about is your satirical intention. When we talk about any topic, the first question is ‘what do we think about this.’ We are trying to do a satire where we comment on whatever the story is. You can’t start with the punchline. You have to think what you are trying to say. That’s where the comedy needs to flow from.”

“Tooning Out the News” dove into real investigative journalism when they saw Andrew Giuliani‘s campaign for New York Governor claimed he used to own a golf company. Fried reveals, “It struck as a little odd. We could not find any evidence of it existing. We confronted the campaign and it suddenly disappeared from the website. We reported it and I was actually able to get Andrew on the phone. There’s more to come. I can tease we have some more reporting to do on Andrew Giuliani.”

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UPLOADED Aug 9, 2021 1:50 pm