Are Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert Honest With Guests?

I’ve enjoyed The Daily Show with Jon Stewart for more than a decade.

But I’ve often wondered how the show’s correspondents consistently get people to speak to them for the program’s comedic taped segments. Do the correspondents play it fair by fully disclosing who they are and on what show the interview will air, or do they obscure their identities in an effort to secure the interview?

A reader recently wrote in with that question, asking:

“Do shows like The Daily Show (and The Colbert Report) actually dupe potential guests? Is it possible that The Daily Show would have given false names, etc., to get the interview? Do many guests not realize the nature of the program? (This baffles me as these shows have extremely high ratings…and people are very aware of what they do….are they sneaky and underhanded in obtaining guests)?”

What does Jon Stewart’s Daily Show tell guests who appear in taped pieces?

In an effort to get that answer, I emailed Comedy Central’s Director of Corporate Communications, Renata Luczak, last week. She didn’t respond.

I also emailed a former guest, Republican strategist Noelle Nikpour, who looked rather foolish in an October Daily Show segment. I wanted to learn more about what she was told prior to the interview; she also didn’t respond.

Her segment, about her mistrust of scientists, is below – and is typical of the way interviews are edited for correspondent pieces:

Since I was unable to get answers from the network or a recent guest, I’d like to turn to this blog’s readers for answers.

Does anyone have information about how The Daily Show or The Colbert Report gets people to participate in these interviews? I’m not talking here about the live guests both hosts have each night, but rather the interview subjects who appear in taped pieces.

Even better, does anyone have a release form from one of the shows?

Given Comedy Central’s failure to respond, I’m left to conclude that the shows probably don’t tell guests everything. I can’t imagine they would get guests to agree to interviews if they said, “Hi, this is Aasif Mandvi with The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and I’d like to interview you for a comedic taped piece that will almost surely make you look silly.”

But I’d rather not surmise. Please share what you know. And if I hear back from Comedy Central or Ms. Nikpour, I’ll add their replies to the story.

Have the best of the blog delivered to your inbox! Enter your name below.