October 17, 2004

"The Daily Show" is dropping in the ratings.

Drudge has the story that the ratings for "The Daily Show" have dropped, despite "jumbo hype from media writers and a bestselling book." I would add that the presidential campaign should also be heightening interest in the show. But it does not surprise me at all that Jon Stewart is losing some of his audience, because he has become a one-sided partisan. Not only does he miss opportunities for humor that might be had at the expense of the side he favors, but his live audience is now packed with lefty overlaughers--people who laugh uproariously at anti-Bush snipes that are hardly jokes at all. If you don't hate Bush, it really cuts into the fun.

Bill Maher's HBO show "Real Time" has the same problem, along with the usual Bill Maher show problem of having celebrities talk about political subjects in ways that make you instinctively change the channel, like last night when Alanis Morissette started to rail about the situation in Iraq. In a contrast to that, I really rather liked Sean Astin on Bill O'Reilly's show the other night. O'Reilly wanted to needle Astin about celebrities doing politics when they don't really know what they're talking about, and Astin was so modest and unopinionated that O'Reilly was reduced to saying "Come on! Have at me!"

By the way, that Drudge link also includes the transcript for the notorious Stewart appearance on "Crossfire" the other day. I've watched the streaming audio of it that is available elsewhere. I think Stewart is kind of funny, but also peevish--not as nimble at turning things into fun as he used to be. He becomes a bit of a plodding scold as it goes along, and I get the impression that he has decided he needs to demonstrate how serious and important the political situation is by sacrificing comedy. But Jon, we need you to be funny. That actually is the most important thing for you. Otherwise you're just Alanis Morissette blabbing about Iraq and I'm going to have to change the channel.

UPDATE: An emailer makes some good points about the ratings:
On August 9, Stewart had Bill Clinton as a guest on the Daily Show and drew 1.9 million viewers. Later that month, he had John Kerry and got 1.5 million viewers. With only 12-16 or so new episodes a month, the disproportionately high ratings for those two episodes are more than enough to account for the entire difference between August and September.
Lots of emailers are agreeing with me that the show has gotten a lot less funny as it has gotten more partisan. Personally, I had watched ever show for years, but now watch only occasionally and often turn it off before the end. I especially dislike the sycophantic interviews.

1 comment:

Anthony said...

Ooops! Despite your wishful thinking, The Daily Show is still going strong, with ratings as high as ever. Sorry!