‘The Daily Show’ Jumps the Sand Shark

Not actually a still from last night.Photo: comedycentral.com

Just last week we lost the 1/2 Hour News Hour, Fox’s profoundly unfunny foray into “fake news.” Is The Daily Show resting on its laurels? Well, yes. But yesterday they pulled a fairly impressive publicity stunt, announcing that Rob Riggle would be reporting live from Iraq. (He’s already there anyhow, performing for the troops with some other B-level comedians.) Were our feeble, TV-attenuated minds blown?

What was the question? Right: “Operation Silent Thunder.” The name might have been the funniest part of this whole experiment. Indeed, it’s a totally contradictory concept: Try to score some laughs by dropping a comedian in the center of one of the greatest unfolding tragedies of our time. (To be fair, Comedy Central’s Flava Flav roast had the same basic premise.) Obviously, The Daily Show can only really function at a green-screen remove. And that remove is what they quite literally worked to preserve, introducing Riggle, a former Marine, via Aasif Mandvi, who blocked an image of Riggle on a green screen.

Jon Stewart, meanwhile, was forced to take his already cloying straight-man anchor shtick to a new level of oh-whateverness. And it all turned into a montage of Riggle on helicopters and boats, with “The End” by the Doors playing — as it of course turns out, on his headphones. As he so often does these days, Stephen Colbert had the last laugh (and best gag) when he pretended, during the nightly hand-off between the shows, that his entire set had been moved to Afghanistan. But what do you want? It’s the end of August. We should be reporting this from someplace sandy, for no good reason other than we’d prefer it that way. —Nick Catucci

‘The Daily Show’ Jumps the Sand Shark