This year marks the impressive 25th anniversary of The Daily Show’s debut on Comedy Central—a fact that neither ages all of us, nor sends us into an existential spiral on the steady decline of America’s sociopolitical health. In honor of the show’s arguably improbable success and longevity, co-creators Lizz Winstead and Madeleine Smithberg reunited with some of the original show anchors yesterday for a Q&A chat benefitting Winstead’s Abortion Access Front. For its own celebration of a quarter-century of TDS, The Daily Beast also briefly spoke with Winstead about her co-creation and subsequently brief tenure on the show.
“25 years ago, we created a show because our media wasn’t doing its job... we’ve landed now in 2021 where the media finally started doing its job and right-wing conspiracy theorists have decided that the media isn’t doing its job because it’s doing its job. It’s really wild,” Winstead summarizes, “And just to know that all the instincts I had about that show—the framework, who to hire, what subjects to tackle...[it’s] a foundation so solid that they could reimagine it while the basic structure held up.”
The brief chat manages to cover a wide range of topics from the early days, including the hiring of initial on-the-ground reporters like Stephen Colbert, Lewis Black, and Brian Unger, to the show’s initial creative contentions with Comedy Central, to, of course, Craig Kilborn’s brief tenure as The Daily Show’s host.
“Oh, I don’t ever talk about that. You can google [sic] it and write about it,” Winstead replies when asked about Kilborn’s infamous misogyny towards the show creators, before not-so-subtly jabbing, “I worked in television at a time when shit happens, and I think things would have been very different if it had happened now.”
In the end, however, Winstead and Kilborn’s recent projects sort of say it all—the former being the head of an influential abortions rights organization, the latter most recently guest starring on the one-season sitcom, United We Fall.
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