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Set Visit: Duking it Out With Jon Stewart on The Daily Show

Charlotte Red ventures to the altar of American satire that is The Daily Show, and finds herself in an unexpected confrontation with the great man himself.

I’m sitting in the audience of The Daily Show thinking of all the things I should and shouldn’t do. In the hour-long queue to get into the small studio, the show’s producers commanded us to go to the bathroom first and be jazz-hands up and alive during the show. They warned us security would wipe the memories of our phones if they saw them out once Jon Stewart was on stage. It’s all very MIB for a show that will go to air in three hours time and be available for free on YouTube soon after.

The producers justify every tedious detail with reminders that we’re going to see a behemoth of satirical political broadcasting in all his wee flesh. But first we’ll have to sit through a warm-up comedian named Rob. Just Rob. He reminds us that Stewart takes a Q&A session with the audience prior to filming (a producer had earlier told us not to ask him to come to our birthday parties because it’s always awkward when he says no).

My stomach gets the public speaking bubbling thing (it’s a love-hate thing) because I’ve got something to ask that’s not about Democrats vs. Fox News. Stewart emerges from the wings of the studio and the audience goes appropriately nuts. And here’s where I have to be honest… I’m not that big a fan of The Daily Show. I prefer John Oliver. What of it? Oliver talks about things outside of the USA and sometimes I think Stewart gives in to the eternal fire of American politics. It’s a huge machine, I get it. Other times his jokes go over my head because what the fig are state legislatures anyway? Though I do think he’s funny. And besides, Last Week Tonight tickets are really hard to get.

Stewart welcomes us to his horseshit-smelling part of town. He compares the Central Park horses to the oh-wee-oh, wee-oh-oh guards of Oz. I appreciate that because I haven’t been able to get tickets to Wicked. He opens the floor to the audience for questions. A guy asks if his wife can come in because she missed out on a ticket. Stewart obliges and you can find out for yourself what happened next. Pradeep is a babe, by the way.

Then he’s like “You!” because I have my hand up already.

“Did you follow the New Zealand election?” I ask.

He looks at me and goes, “Yeahhh, sure. I followed the New Zealand election.”

The audience laughs like surfer fish from Spongebob. “Why, what happened, who won?” Stewart obliges as he rolls his eyes.

I think ‘holy shit who won?’ because I am having a conversation about politics with Jon Stewart and I have no brain anymore.

“Edward Snowden. He won. The NSA was there…”

All over his face is ‘wtf’ and also an expression that looks like he’s trying to remember who Edward Snowden is. “What? No-one is spying on you [sweetie*]”

“Yeah – there was illegal intelligence sharing between our Government and the NSA and Snowden Skyped in to a public meeting to warn everyone about it…”

Stewart thinks for a second while the audience calms down and goes, “Are you fucking with me?”

And all I can think to say is, “Well if Jon Stewart thinks I’m fucking with him then I guess I’ve won.” The audience laughs like surfer fish again and he rolls his eyes and throws his papers on the floor and puts his dukes up.

He mutters “fucking Kiwis” and then a show happens and then I tweet about this and he favourites it. Now I’m pretty certain he has Googled the shit out of our election and, like me, has been feeling a bit gutted about the result.

I upset Jon Stewart and he conceded. It was great.

* He didn’t say sweetie but that was totally his tone.