As the 2016 election winds down, we’re spending the next week talking to some of the people who’ve been on the campaign season’s frontlines, the correspondents of The Daily Show With Trevor Noah in advance of the show’s live election day show on November 8th.
With an election cycle this full of absolutely insane moments and ludicrous behavior, there almost isn’t room for political comedy. What could be said that could trump the madness that we’re all witnessing first hand? Even so, The Daily Show still soldiers on, bringing a little levity with a heavy dose of truth to this election season. Desi Lydic (The League, Awkward.), an actress turned correspondent who joined the show when Trevor Noah assumed the host chair in September 2015. Combining that time of transition with a volatile election cycle, there’s never a dull moment on the Comedy Central show, and Lydic is more than happy to be along for the ride.
What was it like sort of coming onto the show during such a time of transition?
I started a little over a year ago, and I have been just a huge fan of the show for a long, long time. I’ve been one of those people that would dip in and out periodically, but always before elections and I’ve been watching for years. I auditioned a couple times for the show it was like, “Okay, is now a good time, is now a good time?” I was ecstatic to hear that there might be a spot open and I put my piece together back in the fall before I was hired, almost a full year before I was hired, and they were kind of hanging onto it and they would check in every now and again and go, “Hey, we might be interested. What’s your story? What’s going on?” And we’re like, “Yeah, we’ll move to New York tomorrow. I’ll be on a plane, I’m ready.” And they’re like, “Not quite yet, not quite yet, we’re still feeling things out.”
During that period of time, Jon was leaving the show and Trevor was hired, and I also happened to get pregnant. By the time that I got to come in and meet Trevor, I was like four months pregnant. I came in, I met with Trevor, and I did my audition and then I pulled the producers aside afterwards and I said, “Hey, just so you know if I were to be lucky enough to get this job, and I’m more than willing, happy, and excited to do so, but I will be pregnant. Just so you know. So I will be on camera, six months pregnant on day one. You’ve got to be okay with that.” They were probably the only place on the planet that would be like, “Absolutely. Of course, no, we’ll write it in. We’ll use it. No problem.” It was such a dream scenario, to be able to start with this transition with Trevor. It’s such a fun time to be on the show, and not only because has this election been insane. It’s completely insane, but we’re also in a transition time, and with that is there’s so much collaboration and there’s so much experimentation. Creatively it feels like a really exciting place to be.
You were involved in the convention coverage, and I remember you talking to Andrew Husband, one of our news writers. How was it doing the RNC and DNC back to back?
It was pretty incredible to see the difference. People were definitely equally passionate at both conventions, but how they expressed it was really very, very different. I come from a Republican conservative family, so I totally get that perspective. I totally understand voting Republican and having conservative values. But what I found to be so interesting is that — this convention in particular — I think the Trump of it all had every one running on such fear. I mean, just so much fear and conspiracy and high stakes, like this is going to be… This is the end of the world and our country is in the worst state it’s ever been in.
Then, at the Democratic convention, people were very passionate about their views and very concerned about the future of their country, but it was coming from a place of like “Here are all the great things that are working right now and we want to continue on with those things, and here are the things that aren’t working and we want to make sure those things don’t happen again.” It was just a very different experience going from one to the next.
This elections season feels like it’s been going on for forever. How do you guys combat election fatigue?
I think I’m just going to hide in the closet and cry for like two weeks after. They’ll be like, “Desi, you know we don’t any have vacation time after the election. We’re still on air.” “No guys, I’ll be in soon. I promise I’m just on like a post-maternity, maternity leave.” Yeah, I’m so ready for it to be over. I’d just like to not hear Trump ramble on and on for just a little bit. I just need a little break. I’m very much looking forward to this being over. A good hot shower, a good hard scrub. I’ve just got to scrub the grime of this election season off.
As a woman, this is a particularly monumental election. How has it been being so close to the action, especially having recently had a child with so much of the conversation revolving around women, especially mothers in the workplace and paid maternity leave?
It’s a really, really incredible time. It’s an exciting time that she could be our first female president. To be able to go to the Democratic convention and to be on the floor when she accepted her nomination was unbelievable. I could not believe that I was there getting to experience all of that. To me that was one of the coolest moments of having this job, to get to witness things like that, to be so close to it. It’s amazing, and it makes me really excited. It makes me really excited to think about my son not knowing any other way. He’s ten months now, and the first election that he was alive for could be a female president, and that would like no big to deal, that’s not even a thing for his upbringing. Hopefully that’s the way things shake out.
To me, it’s such an amazing time. Then on the other end of it we’re talking about the other candidate, who is a sexual predator and being accused of child rape and all of kinds of sexual assault and we’re talking so much about this pussy grabbing narrative. It really is such a crazy weird time. I feel like things have never been quite this polarized before.
One of my favorite segments that you do on the show is “What the Actual Fact,” which seems more necessary in this election then any other in recent memory, are you ever surprised by the amount of misinformation that is spread or is that more of the same for you by now?
I surprised at how quickly the narrative moves on from lie to lie. I think the difference between Hillary and Trump is that Hillary obviously made a mistake with the server. She made one big mistake, and that has been blown up, and blown up, and blown up. That’s her narrative and everyone keeps going down that road of “She can’t trusted, she’s corrupt.” It just keeps getting repeated and that narrative is so strong now, it’s like it’s building up.
With Trump, he says a different insane, asinine thing every single day. It doesn’t have enough time to pick up steam because he’s already outdone himself the next day or perhaps the next hour. That’s the thing that I just find so … It’s crazy to me. I think there are certainly journalists out there who are calling him on his sh*t, but it’s so hard to keep up with it all. I’m really happy that our show is addressing it in a kind of light, funny, ridiculous way. I’m certainly not a real journalist. We’re trying to be funny here, but if we can kind of call him out on his bullsh*t a little bit and make it funny, then great. I think his supporters don’t care. I think his supporters obviously don’t care about the facts. It’s what he represents and they’ve already kind of made up their minds. They’re voting from their guts.
There has been such a huge swell of support for Trump and, like you said, they just don’t seem to care about facts. Do you think that’s based in fear or do you think it’s based in anger? Where do you see this support coming from so strongly?
I think in my mind it’s primarily fear. “What’s going to happen if Hillary gets into the office? What’s going to happen if …? Look at how terrible America is right now.” It is a scary time in America right now. There is a lot of terrorism, there is ISIS now. There’s certainly things out there to be afraid of, but I think that if you draw attention to all of those things and stir up enough fear, and then create an enemy in Hillary Clinton and the Democrats in general, then people just go crazy and they go, “Oh, God we can’t let that happen. By all means we have to protect our families.” I think it comes from this place of just wanting what’s best for themselves and their families, and the people around them, and this country.
It’s just misinformation and unfortunately those fear-based narratives are all over the news and they sell, and people want to watch that because it’s captivating and it’s interesting and it’s drama. I think Trump is genius at that. I think he is really, really smart. He knows exactly what he’s doing and it captured a lot of support. I think the Republican party is also really turned off by the establishment and he has tried to make himself out to be the anti-establishment guy. “I am not like the rest of them, I am like you,” which is so ridiculous. He’s not like everyone else, he never was. That’s what they believe, that’s his narrative.
Now, you were an actress previously to this on shows like Awkward, so have you found that background helped you step into the role of correspondent?
Definitely. It’s certainly very different. Everything that we do in studio is in front of a live audience, so my experience with that would have been doing parts on multi-camera sitcoms here and there, but reading a teleprompter and working so quickly, you don’t know what you’re doing when you come to work in the morning. We get here at 9:15 for the writers meeting, and we start spit-balling ideas and then suddenly we get a script in at 2:00 or we might still be writing a script, and then we’re on the air a couple hours later, so things move really fast.
With the field pieces that we shoot, we have a little longer to kind of plot those out. I also loved doing improv. Like, that was my theater school, doing improv at The Groundlings and at Improv Olympic in short form and long form. It’s been a little while since I was at those theaters, but that was where I really learned to love comedy. I feel like that has definitely made me feel more comfortable, more confident in this job. It’s definitely a different beast. We’re really, really lucky here because pretty much unlike almost any other comedy show where we actually get to be part of the creative process and sit down with the writers. It’s so rare that you get to do that. I feel like I have this opportunity to learn from all of these incredibly talented writers and to move at such a rapid pace that I don’t know what I would do on my next job when I have a while to crank out a script or prepare material for next week. It’s really it’s a great comedy boot camp of sorts.
That sounds like a really collaborative atmosphere.
Yeah, we’re very, very lucky that way for sure.
The Daily Show has the live election special coming up on November 8th. How does doing something like that differ from a regular show in terms of prep and execution?
We all try to talk about and plot as much as we can. If there are any stories that we might want to cover, and field pieces that may or may not air that have already been prepped, we try to have things standing by that we can rest on. Of course, we don’t what’s going to happen, so it could be down to the net. We’re going to be writing as we’re going pretty much. Just having to kind of be ready to go. None of us will know if we’re going to be on that night. Trevor will know he’s going to be on that night, and the rest of us will just kind of be standing by trying not to slam too much bourbon before show time just in case.
Just in case. That’s for after it’s done. Either celebratory or mourning.
Exactly. Either way, I will have a couple gallons standing by. I always do. You never know. It should be really exciting. It’s an hour long. We’re all panicked and thrilled at the same time. We just don’t know what’s going to happen.
Yeah, I could imagine that while that is stressful, there would be some high stakes adrenaline thrills.
Do you have any advice for people heading home for the holidays and what is sure to be a very politically contentious Thanksgiving?
I would suggest everyone hides the guns. I’m from Kentucky and I definitely have a hunting family, so the second I get home I’m just going to have to like go around the house, lock everything up, and make sure nothing gets out of hand. No, I don’t know, I think there’s definitely bound to be a few discussions, but I would suggest during Thanksgiving dinner, let’s not talk politics. Let’s just not do it. I think it’s best; just enjoy the apple pie.