Despite the flooding and power outages in a huge chunk of Manhattan, it’s still business as usual for a lot of New York City’s talk shows and political commentary series. But when I saw that The Daily Show had a new segment up, I hesitated out of fear that it would somehow trivialize the damage from Hurricane Sandy. After all, we didn’t run a post on Sandy memes because we were erring on the side of sensitivity. Making jokes is the reflex for a situation like this, but it’s a thin line to navigate.
I shouldn’t have worried, because Jon Stewart and the Daily Show writers managed to highlight the parts of this natural disaster that were still ridiculous, like Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s attempts to make safety announcements and updates in Spanish, or his ASL interpreter Lydia Callis (who, for the record, is amazing). And yet, these gentle jabs were more affectionate teasing than anything else, as Stewart introduced a new segment called “A Daily Show Tribute to Institutional Competence.”
As he pointed out, once the politicians stop caring about the upcoming election, they did their jobs incredibly well, and the victims of Sandy all benefited from it. As sharp and witty as the Daily Show crew is and as fun as it is to watch Stewart lose his shit over something like CNN remarking on the Obama girls’ cafeteria lunch — still one of my favorite segments — it’s clear when they’re genuinely impressed by something.