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Daily Show Men Respond to Sexism Controversy

From left: John Oliver, Rory Albanese, Lewis Black, Adam Lowitt, Wyatt Cenac, Rob Riggle.

The women of The Daily Show have already told "people who don't work here" what they thought of Jezebel's charge that the show does not hire enough female writers and on-air talent. But what do the men think? At The Daily Show & Friends at Central Park SummerStage, the dudes broke their silence. (Interestingly, there were no female performers at the event. Daily Show producer Adam Lowitt explained that none of the show’s women have been doing stand-up long enough to participate.)

Lewis Black: When I go in [to the set], there seem to be a lot of women, and they're not, like, bringing me plates of food. And then you can say something like that, and they'll say “None of them are bringing Mr. Black plates of food. That fucking sexist sonofabitch.”

John Oliver: Our conscience is entirely clear. I don't even feel I should have to justify how half-assed the stuff is. It's such a shame it got the traction it did. And I don't know why it did, other than it became a he said, she said. And it will die away. It's not an issue, so it will die away.

Adam Lowitt (producer): It's just weird, for someone from the outside to write this. It's like me writing an article about Home Depot because I met three people who used to work at Home Depot.

Rory Albanese (producer and writer): We're the furthest thing from sexist. And it was great, all the women on the show all worked together on [the open letter]. It's the kind of thing normally we would ignore. I don't think anyone had ever heard of Jezebel. But then, [the post] was so inaccurate. We all love Jon, and he couldn't be nicer … so we're so quick to protect him.

Wyatt Cenac: It was kind of unfair. I get what the writer's trying to go for. But she kind of used our show to talk about an institutional problem that goes beyond television. I remember when that article came out the big G20 was going on and they're bringing out all the world leaders, and all you see are men with their first ladies. Why don't you talk about that? It's a problem that goes beyond one show. There's the other part of it, too. I feel like, I'm a minority. I did stuff at the Upright Citizens Brigade in Los Angeles and there weren't a lot of minorities there. And I'd meet minorities who would say, "I want to get on SNL." Well, there's a path for doing it. A lot of people seem to come out of UCB, so go to UCB. So for whatever reason, there's not a lot of diversity at places like that, so that goes to the TV-show level. Draw some attention that it's a problem that starts early on. That doesn't excuse shows … but some of the people [the Jezebel author] thought would be good are people who have auditioned for the show, some of them multiple times. She was trying to come off as an expert on the subject, but she didn't have all the facts.

Photo: Patrick McMullan