The Sound of Late-Night Comedy

A sampling of comedy fare –- or what passes for it, during a writers' strike -– from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, both of which returned from hiatus last night.

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ALISON STEWART, host:

Two more late-night comedy shows are defying the writers' strike to come back on the air.

"The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart and "The Colbert Report" were back on the air last night sans writers. And the big question: Would they be actually funny? And another big question: Would Jon Stewart be sporting a strike beard?

(Soundbite of show, "The Daily Show")

Mr. JON STEWART (Host, "The Daily Show"): The other late-night shows have come back - Letterman, Conan. They all, obviously, made a statement of their hirsute solidarity.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. STEWART: I, too - and I'm not sure you can tell right now - I have a writers' strike solidarity unibrow.

(Soundbite of laughter)

DANIEL HOLLOWAY, host:

The top story was, of course, the Bill Richardson campaign. No, it was the writers' strike. Just kidding.

(Soundbite of show, "The Daily Show")

Mr. STEWART: At heart, this really is a math problem. And last time that all these talk shows were off the air for any length of time was after September 11th, and at that time, most shows were off for about a week. So if my math is correct, the writers' strike is now nine times worse than September 11th.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: And with the strike, Jon Stewart had some lament about being a funny guy who wasn't able to be a funny guy about the other things going on in the news.

(Soundbite of show, "The Daily Show")

Mr. STEWART: Imagine yourself having a show, and the show that you have enjoyed the occasional chuckle at the absurdities of the American political process and then imagine this is an image that you see when you're not on the air, if you could just…

Mr. MIKE HUCKABEE (Former Republican Governor, Arkansas; Presidential Candidate): …the United States, and we're going to have…

Mr. STEWART: …it's Mike Huckabee winning Iowa, with Chuck Norris behind him.

(Soundbite of applause)

STEWART: That would tough, that would be tough to, hmm, be on the bench for that.

HOLLOWAY: No, no, no.

Next was "The Colbert Report." Last time, Stephen Colbert was on, he had just lost a bid to get on the presidential ballot in South Carolina. And last night, he had Huckabee on his mind, too.

(Soundbite of show, "The Colbert Report")

Mr. STEPHEN COLBERT (host, "The Colbert Report"): Try to think of the musicality of that ticket. Huckabee-Colbert. Huck-Col-bee-Colbert, Huck-Colbert. Huckleberry.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. COLBERT: Huckleberry '08. Ben and Jerry, think about it. That would be a hell of a flavor.

STEWART: Oh, I do missed them. I didn't realize how much.

HOLLOWAY: They're back.

STEWART: Colbert did get around that little problem having no writers by mining a natural source of comedy: Campaign rallies.

(Soundbite of show, "The Colbert Report")

Mr. COLBERT: Can we have the Obama footage? Look at his rally. Look at the people behind him. Look at him. What is - is that a high school rally? Who - look at Mr. Dancy-pants there, Jim. I swear, it's a guy dancing, that guy.

STEWART: But he also addressed the strike.

(Soundbite of show, "The Colbert Report")

Mr. COLBERT: There's an elephant in the room here. Elephants are not actually in the room. The elephants are on strike as well. But why am I doing the show tonight? Why did I decide to come back on the air and do my show? Well, let me tell you something. To everyone, all my doubters and haters out there, let me tell you this: I have always been anti-labor, always been anti-union. This is complete…

HOLLOWAY: And while Colbert managed to stay in anti-union character for 29 minutes of his show, he ended it on this note.

(Soundbite of show, "The Colbert Report")

Mr. COLBERT: Well, that is for the show. Writers, I'll see you in my dreams. Goodnight, everybody.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: For the round-up of the return of "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report," their first show without writers, not too shabby.

HOLLOWAY: Not so bad.

STEWART: The question is, without 10 weeks to work on jokes, can they do it again tonight?

HOLLOWAY: Yeah.

STEWART: We shall see.

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