Tonight, after the opening segment but before Louis CK comes on, I am deeply involved in the middle segment of The Daily Show. How this came about is an interesting story — one that is strange enough to be worth sharing. [Update: Here]

I am either brave or foolish publishing this before the show airs, but I don’t think I made too big an arse of myself. Regardless, it would not be the first time I did so on Television in my professional career.

This episode came about thanks to a post I did for Bloomberg View on the minimum wage. I was at a hotel in Hartford, waiting to give pension fund investors my Romancing Alpha schtick. I had 90 minutes to kill, so I banged out this commentary titled How McDonald’s and Wal-Mart Became Welfare Queens. The story of the McResource hotline had already broken, and I wanted to address it from a perspective of a corporate subsidy from taxpayers. (The follow up are here and here) [Update: This interview was on December 18th, long before tonight’s SOTU address, which hit on many of the same issues]

I don’t use a publicist, so you can imagine my pleasant surprise when an email came in from the Daily Show producers asking me questions about the minimum wage and corporate subsidy column. We chatted a few times, the idea got kicked around by the writers and producers . . . and then the call came. “Hey, can we shoot you next week?” My response: Sure. (Why didn’t I get a haircut?)

This wasn’t the first time I had been tagged by them — When Alan Greenspan retired from the Fed, they reached out (I put them in touch with Kudlow & Cramer instead). And it looked as if Bailout Nation might have landed me in the guest chair, but that never quite materialized. So this was quite a lot of fun, and felt like a long time coming.

As the photos below show, they arrived in our midtown office with tons of equipment. It took over 90 minutes for them to set up.

Shortly afterwards, Samantha Bee showed up. She is a combination of hilarious and delightful. We settle into the chairs, and she begins to fire questions at me. For this 4 minute segment, we shot for two hours.  The hardest part was not cracking up. Her facial expressions and cacophony of shrieks, whines and laughs are infectious. I ruined a few takes breaking up laughing.

A few interesting things I learned about The Daily Show over the course of our shooting — first, they don’t want to tell you who is on the other side of the argument. I had suggested to them that Peter Schiff was a perfect guy for this, as he had been haranguing Wal-Mart shoppers in the parking lot (See this and this).  The next night at dinner with a group of media folks and strategists they confirmed that it was indeed Schiff on the other side of the debate (he apparently told them). Fun!

Second, it appears that TDS has some smart lawyers who’ve thought this thing through. All of the answers were recorded following each question in one continuous segment. When I screwed up or ruined a shot, they had to go back to ask the question again, with the response immediately following in the same shot.

In other words, they don’t cut up your answers or pull them out of context. Question, Answer, Question, Answer. I assume this keeps litigation from angry remote guests to a minimum.

Over the course of two hours, its pretty easy to say something stupid — especially when one of the funniest people on earth is two feet away making faces and saying very funny things. I hope I didn’t embarass myself. We”ll find out at 11:06pm or so.

Anyway, here are some of the snaps I grabbed with the phone. The last one is a spoiler so its after the jump . . .


They brought a ton of equipment, which raised eyebrows on our floor
TDS equiptment hall 2

Setting up in my office, Camera 1
TDS office set up 1


Setting up in my office, Camera 2
TDS office set up 2

Lights, Cameras, Electrical, Booms
TDS office set up 3

Samantha Bee was delightful
TDS Samantha Bee

She worked the entire time, tweaking & rewriting lines. She is quite the Pro
TDS Shes a pro


TDS Spoiler



Category: Humor, Television, Wages & Income

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17 Responses to “How I Ended Up On The Daily Show”

  1. susiek says:

    Thanks for the heads up and the inside look on how they do the opposing viewpoint interviews. I’ve always been curious :)

  2. Mr.Tuxedo says:

    Good for you. My daughter received some freebie tickets when she was a student down at Hofstra and enjoyed the intimacy of the small little place. My favorite is John Oliver, but Samantha Bee always elicits a laugh from me when she makes an outrageous remark and still maintains that deadpan look or Cheshire cat grin. What a show to laugh at a world which is at times quite insane.

  3. CD4P says:

    Bravo! Been a long-time coming, but I’m sure they’ll realize a good find and be back soon!!!

    Stewart should have you on to help fill out his NCAA bracket & win Warren Buffett’s billion dollar prize (you guys can split the haul).

  4. JWR says:

    Reasonable debate of competing ideas for this format. Well done. Impressed you didn’t get soaked when she spewed from the McDonalds cup.

  5. CD4P says:

    I hope that was your stunt double during the spew…

  6. Jeff Miller says:

    Well done! Good explanations.

  7. Molesworth says:

    Fascinating. I wonder if they gave Mr Schiff as much time. You obviously mirror their view. He does not. Did he appreciate how ridiculous he sounded? And did they pay go clean you suit?

  8. maspablo says:

    its 1 am , and I see Barry on Daily show . How , am i supposed to sleep now ? wheres my Rice Krispie treat! I like it .

  9. [...] segment was pretty good. As noted last night, we shot for 2 hours, and lots of great stuff was left on the cutting room floor. The discussion on [...]

  10. EdMcGon says:

    I love your office! Perfect setup, with a nice view. Nice furniture too. I especially like the 3 monitors (or is that 4? I couldn’t tell if the 4th was yours or theirs). That’s a dream office right there.

  11. JerseyCynic says:

    Your hair was perfect – REALLY. Your entire segment was perfect.

    Schiff sure came off a tad arrogant don’t you think? Wow…..

    fyi Mr. Schiff……
    developmental disability
    intellectual disability

    I hope you get another call from TDS to discuss your book

  12. krice2001 says:

    Samatha Bee is great, love watching her. I always see TDS a day later because it’s past my bedtime (I get up around 5AM). I can’t view your interview here, but hope to see it…

  13. mathman says:

    Atta way Barry!

  14. [...] night’s Daily Show appearance (described here: How I Ended Up On The Daily Show) generated a surprising amount of [...]

  15. sowilo says:

    Her spit take was the high point, in response to “McDonalds and WalMart are the biggest welfare queens out there…”

  16. AnotherKaren says:

    Calling WalMart and McDonads “welfare queens” would have been the most memorable remark of the segment if only Schiff hadn’t stunned us all with his ‘mentally retarded are worth $2.00/hr’. That was a thing of beauty to all TDS fans.