A Web of InDecision for Comedy

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Comedy Central is hitting the campaign trail online, expanding its long-running InDecision franchise into a Web site set to launch today.

The new political humor hub, at Indecision2008.com, features video clips relevant to the upcoming election from the network's programming, including "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," "The Colbert Report," "Lil' Bush" and Comedy Central stand-up specials. Original content also is in the mix, from user-generated postings to a blogger dubbed "The InDecider," who will facilitate the online banter and react to the latest political news.

InDecision launched in 1992 as a branded segment for "Daily Show" and has grown over the years into a comedic fixture of recent campaigns, winning over viewers and advertisers. The site is expected to be the first of several new online vertical extensions Comedy Central will spin off from its biggest programming attractions.

Indecision2008 wasn't expected to launch for another year, said Erik Flannigan, executive vp digital media at Comedy Central, but intense early media interest in the presidential race spurred him to reconsider its timing.

"We underestimated how early this election has begun and the enthusiasm for the debates that are happening on both sides," he said. "There's just more fodder, and people are talking about it early."

Indecision2008.com also is laden with widgets that take plenty of satirical jabs at the coming election. Examples on the site include daily "marching orders" to both sides of the political aisle like "Today's conservative talking point: We can't afford to send any man who gets $400 haircuts to the White House."

Other features that will roll out include a public forum discussing political topics, online fantasy gaming, a video upload feature allowing users to share their own content and an expanded offering of widgets.

Political figures that have appeared on "Daily Show" include Republican Rep. Ron Paul and Democratic candidates Christopher Dodd, Joe Biden and Barack Obama. Sen. John McCain appeared as a guest on the eve of his announcement to seek the presidential nomination, while in 2004 John Edwards used the show to announce his plans to run.

Paul has also made an appearance on "Colbert Report" along with such other politicians as John Kerry, Mike Huckabee, Charles Schumer and Elliot Spitzer.

"There's so much more to work with, and we have further plans for both 'The Daily Show' and 'The Colbert Report' to be further involved in both the primaries," Flannigan said.

Flannigan doesn't have a timetable for how long the Web site would remain online.

"It will be interesting to see how much politically humorous dialogue is fostered, but we see a pretty long arc, and it will certainly run on through the reaction to the election," he said.
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