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Jun. 24 2010 - 8:40 am | 10,465 views | 1 recommendation | 8 comments

5 women who deserve a shot at ‘The Daily Show’

As Jezebel pointed out this week, The Daily Show has not hired a new full-time female correspondent in seven years. That’s a long time. While they have tried out several women as contributors, there is probably a generation of Daily Show viewers that believe Samantha Bee is the only female correspondent to ever appear on the show. Is that a good thing? Probably not. Is it unilateral evidence of chauvinism and disrespect in The Daily Show offices? Probably not. Comedy is a very difficult thing, and I honestly believe that most producers would hire a donkey if they thought it could write a solid one-liner.

I know several hilarious women who have auditioned to be correspondents on The Daily Show and not been cast. But I also know several (and, truth be told, more) hilarious men who have also tried out and been turned out away. The fact is, a Daily Show correspondent is a very difficult thing to be. You need to be both unique and in line with the formula. They are looking for performers who are able to give the bit their own spin, but not necessarily reinvent the wheel. Jezebel recounts several notorious stories of abuse women have suffered at The Daily Show, and I have no reason not to believe them. But I will say this: comedy writing rooms are abusive places for everyone. Worse for women? Very possibly. But you could write just as juicy a piece about men who’ve been terrorized as well. I suppose it’s different when it’s man on woman ugliness, but it’s all pretty ugly.

All that being said, there are some women out there that could very easily break The Daily Show’s seven-year streak. They’re drop-dead funny, and they have that an extra edge, that charming bit or persona that could lead to a very funny correspondent character. It wouldn’t surprise me if many of them had auditioned for the show before, but I think they’d blow the doors off the place. When Christopher Hitchens said women aren’t funny, he showed he either knew very little about women or very little about funny, and these ladies are the proof.

1. Tig Notaro

Where you’ve seen her: The Sarah Silverman Show

Why her? Because she’s hilarious. Tig’s delivery is very deliberate. Slow, cautious, almost to the point where you feel uncomfortable. But it always feels genuine, not at all shticky or a put-on. And it fits her quirky material perfectly. She’s the perfect sort of woman for The Daily Show because she’s distinct. She has a point of view and attitude all her own which would set her apart from other correspondents, but the way she dryly undersells her own material would fit nicely as a fake reporter. Honestly, she’s perfect for the job.

Since describing comedy is always especially awkward, why don’t you just watch this:

2. Whitney Cummings

Where you’ve seen her: Chelsea Lately Panelist

Why her? Because she’s hilarious. When Comedy Central roasted Joan Rivers, a lot of heavy hitters took the mic. Carl Reiner. Gilbert Godfried. Greg Giraldo. Jeffery Ross. And Whitney Cummings bested them all. You watch this and tell me different. (Oh, and it’s not safe for work, if normally at work you watch comedy clips at full volume without any headphones.) Is Whitney’s style perfect for The Daily Show? Maybe not at first glance, but any woman who can out-joke those guys will figure out a way to make it funny. The joke about Joan’s…private area is a fantastically dirty work of art.

3. Heather Morris

Where you’ve seen her: Brittany, the dumb cheerleader on Glee

Why her? Why, because she’s hilarious, of course. Playing dumb is really hard to do. It’s so cliche and overused that to pull it off in a unique and funny way shows some serious chops. And Heather Morris nails it every time on Glee. Honestly, without her and Jane Lynch the show is basically songs and a lot of unwatchable┬ánonsense, which is pretty amazing considering Heather was hired to be a dancer and only recently added acting to her resume. Could not terribly bright play as a correspondent? If done well, I think so. And Morris could definitely do it well. Her delivery on “did you know dolphins are just gay sharks?” still kills me every time.

4. Chelsea Peretti

Where you will see her: Louis C.K.’s new FX show Louie

Why her? Because she’s hilarious. Chelsea hasn’t exploded yet, but I think she will soon enough. Her stage persona is smart, no-nonsense, almost curmudgeonly. Not something you see terribly often in a female comic under…say, 65 – which is why she’s so great. And if there’s one thing a Daily Show correspondent has to be able to do, it’s the subtly condescending interview with an unaware local, and Chelsea can knock that out of the park. Here’s visual evidence:

5. Joan Rivers

Where you’ve seen her: Everywhere, you jerk. She’s Joan Rivers.

Why her? Because she’s the most hilarious woman in comedy. Remember how I said before that Whitney Cummings got the biggest laugh of all the comics at the Joan Rivers roast? Well, that was true, save one: Joan herself. She’s┬á 77 and she’s still the funniest woman on the planet, and she destroyed at her roast. And she didn’t just get laughs, but she got them doing new, up to date, edgy, smart material. There are 40 year-old comics who can’t do that anymore, and they’re headliners. OK, she’s totally unlike every Daily Show correspondent ever, and the idea of her playing a character is preposterous, but she’d still destroy. And if a woman was every created to handle an all-male writer’s room, the woman is Joan Rivers. If she can spar with Johnny Carson, Wyatt Cenac shouldn’t be much of a problem. I know it would never happen, but the world fell in love with Betty White on SNL, and I’m sure they’d feel the same about Rivers on The Daily Show.

So whattya think? Any one of these ladies would be great, but hey, it’s been seven years, Daily Show. How about making up for it by hiring them all?

Anyone I forgot? What women would you like to see on The Daily Show?


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  1. collapse expand

    Great post and my vote is for Chelsea Peretti. I watched several videos and she is perfect for the job.

  2. collapse expand

    I vote NO for Joan Rivers. Not only is she not as funny as you think, she’s too big for the show.

    And I’m afraid her face might melt under the studio lights.

    • collapse expand

      Yes, she’s too big for the show, you’re right Ragnar. It wouldn’t really work, but I do like to dream.

      I will say however that on the matter of her humor, she can still kill. I’ve seen her live several times in the last few years, each time doing over an hour of totally new and topical material, and each time she brought the house down. Joan’s still got it, for sure.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  3. collapse expand

    You lost me at Joan Rivers.

    I don’t know two of the other choices but the inclusion of Rivers makes me doubt the whole list.

    Apart from the fact that you overestimate her quantitatively as “the most hilarious woman in comedy” you miss the point qualitatively. Joan takes herself enormously seriously. She is a pompous ass. We can disagree over the quality of her writers and her ability to deliver their lines (or theoretically those of the Daily Show writers) but what would not mesh with TDS is a self important thin skinned buffoon- except as a character.

    Seriously, where did you get this idea?

  4. collapse expand

    Tig Notaro is a notorious nut job. She’s also know to steal jokes. She’s under investigation for felonies as well.

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    About Me

    Twitter: @b_donovan

    I am a writer, actor, and North Korean Dictator. Over the years though I've written for everything from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to Fox News to Chapelle's Show, and can be seen frequently on Vh1 making snide remarks at the expense of others. Recently I was the Head Writer of "Fair Game", a news and comedy show from Public Radio International. My interests range from news to sports to entertainment, so this blog should read kinda like the evening news, except funnier and with less Brian Williams. Fuck Brian Williams.

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