Humor is coming to town. The Washington Center for the Performing Arts in Olympia welcomes “The Daily Show Writers Comedy Tour.” On Saturday, February 12, four writers bring to the stage the wit and cleverness behind the Comedy Central channel’s “The Daily Show.” Matt Koff, Joe Opio, Kat Radley and Randall Otis reveal some of the humor that is characteristic of the show and also shine with their individual stand-up comedy talents for an evening full of laughter.
Coming from all different backgrounds and experiences, the four writers on the tour present their unique comic artistry. Matt Koff has written for “The Daily Show” with hosts Jon Stewart and Trevor Noah. He is a stand-up comedian and an Emmy Award-winning television writer who has written for a number of channels.
Joe Opio is a stand-up comic originally from Kampala, Uganda where he also wrote, produced, edited, directed and hosted his own show “LOLUganda.” Opio, who completed law school and is also a certified accountant, has written for over 300 episodes of “The Daily Show.”
Kat Radley has always been a fan of late-night shows and discovered stand-up comedy in college. She performed stand-up comedy by evening and taught English by day. Actor, comedian and writer for the show Randall Otis, made his network debut as a stand-up comic on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
The group enjoys going on tour to meet fans. “We all love stand-up comedy,” explains Radley. “We love being able to perform. For us, it’s really fun to do comedy for crowds outside New York City, in person, to get to meet and perform for audiences all over the country.” They are indeed crossing the country performing for people coast to coast and will be in Olympia one night only.
Enjoyed by a large audience, “The Daily Show” is the Comedy Central channel’s longest running series. Since its debut in 1996, it has featured humorous takes on major news stories and highlighted numerous guests such as former United States presidents and foreign presidents. The list is long and includes legislative representatives and senators, political candidates, actors, musicians and even foreign officials.
All of those shows need to be written. Content and interviews, humorous angles on current events or issues all need to be crafted. It takes a team made up of writers and the host. Starting with headlines and news from a variety of sources, the writing team discusses which of the topics will lead the show that day. Yes, that very day. The timely news events of the day are included in the brainstorming, drafting and reviewing during the day, and it is all ready for the show’s afternoon rehearsal. Finally, the episode is taped in front of a live audience that evening. “The Daily Show” has won 24 Emmy Awards performing this not so easy feat.
Taking the weightiness of news events and contemporary issues and being able to infuse them with humor is an art, and it is an art these writers create with great success. They know the value of laughter for people and skillfully create a balance between seriousness and laughs. “I think a lot of us become comics because jokes are a way for us to process what is going on around us,” says Radley. “It allows us to look at it from a different perspective or different angle. We all have a good sense of what’s up for grabs and what isn’t. In comedy you always want to make sure your jokes are hitting the right target. You always want to be punching up and not punching down, and sometimes it can really take some brainstorming and workshopping to figure out what the joke is, what you can and what you can’t make fun of. It really helps to have a writer’s room where we can bounce ideas off each other and run a joke and ask if it hits the right target.” It is impressive that these writers repeat this collaborative and intricate planning process in one day, multiple days per week.
“Everyone will be able to see how we all have little pieces of ourselves that we put into the show whether it is writing for Trevor or one of the correspondents like Roy or Desi or Dulce. They’ll probably get little snippets of seeing how we have the same sort of mentality, sentiments or sense of humor that you do see on the show.” Patrons of the Olympia performance will get to chuckle, hold their sides and dab away some tears of laughter as they watch this talented team of comedy writers pull from their everyday lives, their past experiences and the challenges of our current times to give everyone an avenue for letting go and having some fun.
Tickets range from $25 to $57 depending on seating choices. Check the Washington Center for the Performing Arts website regarding the “The Daily Show Writers Comedy Tour” for purchases and more information about the February 12 event.