"Producer gets laughs at conference"
The Topeka Capital-Journal
October 1, 2002
by Michael Hooper


"The Daily Show": Former Topekan and KU grad works on Comedy Central show

Stewart Bailey is a political satirist who found his niche on "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart.

The Topeka native has lived and worked in New York since 1989, when he graduated from The University of Kansas with a degree in journalism.

As the supervising producer for "The Daily Show," he sends reporters to cover political events with a laughable angle. For example, they spoof the blundering pronunciations of President Bush, who can't seem to pronounce "subliminal" and recently created the word "embetterment."

Bailey looks like George Stephanopoulos, but he is much taller than the former White House aide, whom Bailey described as "so tiny you could put him in your pocket."

Bailey was a keynote speaker Tuesday at the International Association of Business Communicators' District 5 conference in Topeka. He had the group of public relations officials laughing as he recounted some of the stories he has produced.

For example, in July when nine miners from Pennsylvania emerged from a water-filled mine, the show's staff discovered there was another miner who didn't work that day because he had gone to OzzFest, a concert known for heavy metal music.

"What he had to endure was way worse than what the miners had to," Bailey joked. "Can you believe this guy made it out alive?"

When Jon Stewart became the host of "The Daily Show" in 1999, he told the staff the show could grow in quality, intellect and viewership, and "we believed it," Bailey said.

A New York Times article published at about that time indicated some youths get their news from comedy shows. Seeing an opportunity, those involved with "The Daily Show" had to do a fair amount of exposition before setting up its jokes.

Bailey recruited former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole to be a contributing correspondent during the 2000 presidential election. The show didn't pay Dole much, but Bailey said he was grateful that someone of his stature could add to the show's credibility.

Through "dogged perseverance," the show is no longer about a "marauding gang of nobodies," Bailey said. It has had guest appearances by Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

The challenge is to make sure the show is "edgy enough" but also fair, he said. Some jokes aren't aired because they aren't appropriate, he said.

Bailey said the staff has tried to be fair with politicians.

"We wouldn't just poke them with a stick just to hear them go 'ouch,' " he said.

Konni (Kelly) Flynn, a Topeka High School classmate with Bailey who currently works at Bartlett & West Engineers, said Bailey always wanted to work for the Letterman show, which is where he got his start. Bailey said several thousands of people who applied to work for Letterman as a page. Only 50 were hired. He was one.

Bailey said there are many Kansans who are successfully working in New York.

"We take for granted we have pretty good educations here," he said.

In 2001, Bailey won the prestigious Peabody Award for the show's coverage of the 2000 presidential election.

"He seems so totally Kansan to me," said Katharine Weickert, co-chairwoman of the International Association of Business Communicators' District 5 conference. "And I mean that in the best possible way."


Name: Stewart Bailey.

Age: 36.

Family: He and wife, Jennifer, are expecting their first child in November.

Parents: Edward and Sarah Bailey, of Topeka.

Background: Bailey, a Topeka native, earned a journalism degree from The University of Kansas in 1989. After graduation, he moved to New York, slept on a friend's futon and held various assistant positions at "Late Night with David Letterman" and "Saturday Night Live." In 1993, he became a researcher for the "Jon Stewart Show" on MTV. He is the supervising producer for "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central. The show airs at 10 p.m.

[Photo caption: Stewart Bailey, a Topeka native and a producer for "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central, speaks on "Rags to Riches: Comedy Along the Way," at Tuesday's meeting of the International Association of Business Communicators at the Capitol Plaza Hotel.]


<< back

Copyright © 2002 The Topeka Capital-Journal. All rights reserved.

main - pictures - transcripts - multimedia - desktop - links