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‘The Daily Show’ election night special will provide the commentary our future needs

The Emerald recently asked The Daily Show with Trevor Noah correspondents Hasan Minhaj and Roy Wood Jr. an important question during a media conference call.

When asked what insulting tweet they can imagine Donald Trump sending them, correspondents Minhaj and Wood both laughed at the question, but as they were thinking of answers, the air felt like it was sucked out of the phone line as the two comedians got serious. 

Wood composed this tweet in Trump-style diction: “The Daily Show is terrible, the ratings are horrible. It’s a terrible show, I like making fun of it in front of my other black friends.”

While Minhaj took a breath and flatly stated, “@hasanminhaj, come Nov. 9th I’m deporting you and your family.”

While it is part of their job to make light of the absurdity in American politics, The Daily Show’s current team has approached this election differently than that of John Stewart’s era. They have taken on a serious, somewhat existential tone that Stewart didn’t quite latch onto when he hosted.

While Stewart often used physical impressions to make fun of figures like John Boehner, Noah relies more on ideological, less concrete ways to joke. He is able to call out some of the political nonsense Stewart couldn’t; maybe Noah’s outside perspective on American politics has changed the show. Stewart was a political insider in some ways after hosting the show for so long, and Noah, being relatively new, is not. 

In an election as absurd as this one, where Hillary Clinton’s emails are constantly debated and Trump’s words are mocked in disbelief, sometimes jokes feel recycled because they stem from real issues. The Daily Show, along with the now defunct The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, provide perspective, though sometimes it is hard to tell whether these perspectives are new.

If the past few months of coverage on The Daily Show say anything, it’s that the jokes have not run out this election, but instead are constantly shifting forms. Trump’s words may be repeated incessantly, but it’s a different approach each time.

Noah’s recent “Indecision 2020” sketch is a great example of this. The 12-minute sketch imagines what four years of a Trump presidency would look like. The skit opens on a desolate studio, where Noah fumbles with cameras and cardboard while making an illegal broadcast of The Daily Show. The audience sees clips of John Oliver being “arrested” and Wood being frisked by arms that come out of his coat.

It’s funny, but it is reminiscent of the seriousness of an unknown future. Noah relies on current events — absurd as they are already — to make a point about the future: Whatever way we want to go as a country, the present still matters.

On election night, just a mere couple days away, Trevor Noah and his team of correspondents will broadcast live and try to make sense of the results that come in. Whether Trump or Clinton wins, whatever your stance is, watch it. No matter what, The Daily Show’s poignant commentary may be the only way we’ll make it through the next four years as a country.

The first half of the hour-long show will be accessible on Facebook Live, while the entire special will be available for streaming on the Comedy Central website and on its cable channel at 11 p.m.

Watch the Indecision 2020 sketch below:


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Sararosa Davies

Sararosa Davies

Sararosa Davies is the senior A&C editor at the Emerald. A former editor at the youth-run music blog Garage Music News, her written work has been featured in City Pages in Minneapolis, Eugene Weekly and Sirius XM's music blog. She's one of many Minnesotan transplants in Oregon.

Send her tips and questions at [email protected] or check out her work at