Thank goodness for comedy. The 2016 presidential election would be impossible to get through without it. Tonight, a special hour-long election edition of “Adam Ruins Everything” airs on TruTV and we got to chat with its host, Adam Conover, about political jokes in a post-Jon Stewart world, and why so many people take issue with Hillary Clinton.
The election special was loaded with information. How long did it take to write?
It took a number of months. I had a writer, Gonzalo Cordova, and a researcher, Peter Miller, working with me. I was shooting 12 hours a day for “Adam Ruins Everything.” So we would meet on a Saturday and then they would go work on it for a week and do the research and put the acts together.
Why are so many people are uncomfortable with Hillary?
The thesis of that part of the show is that we’ve always had problems with women in politics in America. There aren’t really counterexamples even of the incredibly popular female politician. I mean, Elizabeth Warren currently is one. Although she’s popular within the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. What would happen if she ran nationally? That remains an open question.
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Hillary is going to have two things going against her. She’s been embedded in the political system for so long and in an anti-establishment year, she’s seems to be the establishment. The political compromises and political decisions that one makes as a result of being a successful politician are things that people are currently not in the mood to enjoy. I think it’s the unique combination of being a woman running for high office and being a person who’s spent a quarter of a century in politics and in public life. There’s a lot for people to take issue with.
A point you bring up in your special is that our country is more divided than ever. What do you think has been the media’s role in this?
The fragmentation of media has helped accelerate how divided people are because people are able to get their own sources of information and end up occupying these tiny little echo chambers. Now that wasn’t exclusively caused by media fragmentation by a long shot. I think it’s also been the result of a concentrated effort by the political parties to divide people into two groups. To tell people, 'Well you’re either on the blue team or your on the red team, and the other team is full of monsters that want to destroy your way of life."
What are your thoughts on comedy stepping up to the plate to inform as well as entertain?
First of all, we’re living in a post-Jon Stewart comedy world. Jon Stewart was enormously influential. He’s like my Johnny Carson figure — the person who changed how I saw comedy being done. I think he did it for everybody. Comedy is taken much more seriously now as a result of his work on “The Daily Show” and now there’s so many people doing post-Jon Stewart comedy. He showed us that comedy could have real things to say about real issues and could actually move the needle of culture. To actually make people think differently and to educate, inform and question, in addition to simply making people laugh.
What are your hopes for the election special?
I hope people watch it. I hope they enjoy and laugh. I hope they come away with a slightly broader view of our democracy, thinking about things a little bit differently.
The “Adam Ruins Everything Election Special” airs Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 10 p.m. on TruTV.