Apr 02, 2020
By Nicole Bitette
WhatsApp and iPhones fueled the creation of 'The Daily Social Distancing Show' during the COVID-19 crisis.
When Trevor Noah interviewed the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, on March 26, it wasn't face-to-face in front of a live audience at the show’s New York City studio. Noah was instead seated behind a folding table in his apartment, quizzing Fauci about COVID-19 through his iPhone.
After all late-night shows shut down production due to the escalating coronavirus pandemic, Noah and his team at The Daily Show suddenly found themselves homebound. Rather than give up on the show, the crew pivoted, using iPhones, WhatsApp, and Zoom to produce The Daily Social Distancing Show and distribute it on YouTube, via CC.com, and across social media.
“At The Daily Show, we have a lot of meetings. The philosophy is always, ‘the more people who know, the better’—which is proving to be the real challenge here: Finding the easiest way for our staff to communicate with each other,” says Jen Flanz, executive producer and showrunner for The Daily Show. “We’re on Skype. We’re on Slack. We’re on Facetime. We’re on Google Docs. We’re on Zoom. We’re on Scripto. We’re on WhatsApp. We’re on everything Apple."
“We’re basically shooting everything we normally do but in a totally different way—field pieces, chats, headlines, and guest interviews—but remotely and on a phone.”
In the few days that new episodes of The Daily Show were off the air as the team plotted their next steps, it became clear that a demand remained for comedic and informative content, which is the DNA of The Daily Show.
So, on March 18, Noah addressed his fans through a video chat with The Daily Show correspondent Roy Wood Jr. “We don’t know when we’re going to go back to the studio, we don’t know if we’re going back to the studio, and I don’t think any of you know any different. Coronavirus has changed everybody’s lives. So what we’ve decided is to make The Daily Show from homes… We’re just going to chill at home and use the technology we have to make the show.” More than 3.7 million viewers have watched that first video.
"“We’re basically shooting everything we normally do but in a totally different way."
Executive producer and showrunner for 'The Daily Show'