My appearance on The Daily Show:
[su_spacer size="10"]I get this voicemail. “Hey, its Asaf from Comedy Central, The Daily Show. We’d like to talk with you about being on the show.”
My first thought is “Wow! How cool is this?”
I’ve been on TV a few times. It’s not out of the question they might want me for something, right?
My second thought is “Hey wait a minute...what if it’s me they want to make fun of?”
I got scared! I wanted to call them back. I paced back and forth in front of the phone for about 10 minutes. Finally I call.
This went down during the government shutdown back in 2013. Our nation’s politicians were acting like children. A real food fight in DC that got the whole federal government in a shut-down over ObamaCare. No shortage of absurdity on both sides.
Asaf lays it out for me. They want me to come up to New York and shoot this thing. Jason Jones is the Daily Show “reporter” who’s going to be the guy I coach through a “negotiation” with an actual Tea Party talking head, Noelle Nikpour, to try to get the country released.
“Ok, I’m game” I say. Thinking at least it’s not me you’re planning on making fun of.
I get up to NYC and meet them at their shooting location. An apartment in mid-Manhattan. Not really a regular studio. Their guys are hanging out. I meet Jason Jones. Smart, very smart guy. I ask him how long he’s been doing what he’s doing. He says “I’ve been a fake journalist for 10 years.” This just cracks me up and I think “Pretty cool. This guy’s not kidding himself.”
I mostly talk to the producers because these guys are really who make things happen. Nobody anywhere gets by without the behind the scenes guys and I know that since this show runs so well these guys really know how to work the magic.
They put me in place to record some pre “negotiation” conversation with Jason. He has a set of questions to ask me and instead of scripting the answers they want to hear what I’d actually say and how I’d analyze the negotiation. They think it’s pretty cool when my assessment of reality falls right in line with their comedy.
One of the memorable questions and answers was:
Jason: “What if you’re dealing with someone who’s bat-sh*t crazy?”
Me: “Even bat-sh*t crazy has it’s own rules.”
The whole thing is really cool. They actually shoot the thing with Noelle during a separate time from me. Jason just busts her chops unmercifully. He suits up with a bulletproof vest, pulls out a bullhorn while sitting 2 feet away from her, the works.
They told me about what I thought was the funniest part of all (which didn’t make it into the final version). They pay a couple of older actors (man and woman) to come in and pretend to be her parents to plead with her to give herself up.
Through the whole thing Noelle hangs in there completely and doesn’t even flinch. She does give them a few sound bites she might have wished she hadn’t, but what the heck.
I’m set up to be coaching Jason from another location; piped into his ear with an earpiece so he can hear me. This is all actually done during 2 completely separate occasions but the producers, writers and Jason have anticipated everything so well my ad-lib coaching fits right in.
The piece airs and they end up with about triple the number of views they would have wanted to feel the thing went well. My sister Sandra emails the link to every friend and relative of ours on the planet and I’ll bet it got more views from that than anything else. I think my mom had it set on a recurring loop for about a week.
A bunch of people said – “The Comedy Central thing was really funny! We agree with Noelle but it was still funny! We loved it!”
The most dangerous negotiation is the one you don’t know you’re in. Often the secondary audience is as important as the one you think you’re talking to.
Make some rain!