The Spirit of the Age Is Not Funny
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From the Hollywood Reporter:

Jon Stewart Isn’t Laughing

He understands if you are delighted by his return to TV. But like the subjects he’ll cover on Apple’s ‘The Problem With Jon Stewart,’ his comeback is a little more complicated: “It’s ‘The Daily Show,’ but less entertaining — but also maybe more complete.”


SEPTEMBER 15, 2021

The concept — a current affairs series that tackles a single issue, or “problem,” every episode — is some two years in the making….

Earlier this year, Stewart hired a showrunner (news veteran Brinda Adhikari) and head writer (comedian Chelsea Devantez), then assembled a staff very different from the mostly white comedy writers that made up his last one. Of the series’ nine writers, “most of them have never worked on a comedy show,” says Adhikari, who rattles off résumés that include social work and the military. “It’s not like we were just hiring writers from The Harvard Lampoon.”

After all, what punchy one-liners have old Harvard Lampoon staffers ever written? Okay, okay, George Santayana (a Lampoon editor in the 1880s) came up with, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” But, still…

Collectively, the staff — some of whom appear on air in snippets from the office — mapped out a season’s worth of subjects, from gun control to climate change.

And in the second season they will do subjects ranging from climate change to gun control.

Stewart will tell you The Problem was born from “the same things that animated The Daily Show“; it’s just more “complete” and, to him, “more satisfying.” What it isn’t is laugh-out-loud funny, at least not in the way his Daily Show frequently was.

In Stewart’s defense, his first episode, about an obscure health care issue for ex-soldiers involving the Veteran’s Administration dropping the ball, sounds eminently public-spirited.

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