Ever wonder what going on the The Daily Show is like? Here's a rundown from recent guest Ethan Watters, author of Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche. This post was first published on The Rumpus.
1. Don't expect any warm up. Jon Stewart comes into the green room before the show and chats with you for about 3 minutes. The conversation in my case focused exclusively on the contents of my Daily Show gift bag.*
2. You'll have about an hour to hang out and get nervous before you go on. A staff member on the show is there to distract you. In my case she told me the story of one former interviewee who sweated so profusely that he nearly shorted out the lavalier microphone. (To be fair to the staffer, the context of the story was - "that rarely happens.")
3. You will only see the set 30 seconds before you walk on. When they need you, a production assistant will lead you down a series of grim hallways past groups of hipsters (writers perhaps?) hanging out in the break room. You'll be thinking, "this is not very glamorous." Your eyes will be drawn to all "Exit" signs.
4. Do not look at the audience as you walk out onto the set. Look only at the familiar face of Jon Stewart. Know that he will get you through this. Trust in him.
5. Do not think any of the following thoughts: "Everyone I know is watching this." "Whatever happens in the next 5 minutes will live forever on the web." "Better not screw this up."
6. Don't try to be funny unless you ARE funny. If you are not sure if you are funny, assume that you are not and if you try to be in this situation you will look like an incredible jackass because you are sitting next to someone who is preternaturally, almost freakishly, hilarious.
7. When you start to speak large images of your face will appear on monitors around the set. If you look at these images of yourself your mind will freeze up and then explode. Look only at Jon. You'll only have to say a sentence and a half before he jumps in with a zinger.
8. Do not laugh too hard at his zingers. They are for people watching at home. If you start giggling the interview is going to grind to a halt.
9. Bask in the post interview handshake. This is the moment when they are cutting away to commercial and the host leans in to shake your hand and say something just between the two of you. I can't tell you what Jon said to me during those five seconds except to say that it was of a highly personal nature.
10. Try not to open the copious amounts of liquor in the gift bag* until you are out of the building and safely in the Town Car on your way back to your hotel.
* What is in that Daily Show gift bag? Glad you asked:
- Monopoly Board game.
- One huge bottle of Cherry Flavored Vodka - in case you want to go get some high school kids hammered after the show.
- One bottle of 1800 Tequila
- A package of those Nespresso packets but no machine by which to actually make an espresso
- One Daily Show Hat
- One Daily Show T-shirt
- One gift certificate to get a professional photographic portrait of your pet - in case you are ever traveling through NY with your dog.
Here is the video of Ethan's segment: