The Daily Show with Trevor Noah has had an eventful year. As the COVID-19 pandemic was sweeping through the U.S. and the world, Noah, the producers and Comedy Central decided to extend the half-hour show to 45 minutes. The plan is now to extend that even further and move to a full hour by the end of the year.
That’s in addition to this week’s news that it will move to five days a week to cover the Democratic and Republican conventions.
Jen Flanz, the late-night staple’s showrunner and executive producer, said during Deadline’s virtual Contenders Television: The Nominees event that the move to an hour will help both the network and the show.
“45 minutes was pretty easy for us to do [but], it’s probably a programming nightmare,” she said. Supervising producer Zhubin Parang joked that it was tough to fit a short version of The Office in the last 15 minutes.
Flanz added that the real reason that they wanted to make the move creatively was to give more air time to its slew of correspondents who include Ronny Chieng, Michael Kosta, Desi Lydic, Dulcé Sloan, Jaboukie Young-White and Roy Wood Jr. “The big push, when we can do it, will be to make sure the correspondents are on every night. It doesn’t always work out if we have two guests or there’s really big headlines, but our fans love them and their interactions are really fun so the extra time will let us play with that more,” she said.
Extending the show has also meant they are able to air full interviews with guests. Flanz said they used to do one version for the linear show and air a full interview online, but the pandemic has meant that doesn’t work. “The way we’re set up now two versions is too hard, so how can you have guests on like Dr. Fauci, Governor Cuomo and Hilary Clinton and make them five minutes?” she said. “A lot of time is going into the interviews and there’s so much going on right now that we didn’t feel like we could cut it out of the headlines either.”
Joked supervising producer David Kibuuka: “When you cut the interviews, sometimes it can be like ‘Hello, how are you?’ ‘My whole family died in a hurricane.’ ‘Well, good night’.”
Many of the late-night shows including The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Show With Stephen Colbert and The Late Late Show With James Corden, have headed back to their studios in some form. But Flanz said that they feel no pressure or competition to get back into their studio until they are safe.
“We’re continuously working with the ViacomCBS task force and talking internally about what we feel is safe and smart. We’re always looking to go back but we haven’t felt ready yet. The show is working well from home and god forbid if someone on the staff got sick and we were spreading it more, I just don’t think any of us are confident yet. Viacom has been really great in allowing us to make our own decision. We want to go back eventually. Until we’re sure about going back, I think we’re going to try and keep doing it [from home],” she said.
Producing the show from Noah’s home has become almost routine according to Flanz, Parang and Kibuuka. “This is now like normal. It’s become a routine, we know how to do it,” said Flanz. “It feels in a very depressing way like normal,” added Parang.
“I feel like we did have a great foundation but I could not imagine it would be this long. But still, we were kind of built for this. We know how to crank stuff out 24 hours a day, seven days a week, whether we’re in the studio or not. I would have said that we just do that online, but we figured out how to do it on linear as well so I’m pretty proud of everyone,” Flanz added.
Check out the video above, and click here to watch all of Sunday’s Contenders TV panels.
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