'The Daily Show' First Episode: THR's 1996 Review
On July 22, 1996, Comedy Central unveiled a news-driven variety series, The Daily Show, with host Craig Kilborn. The Hollywood Reporter's original review is below:
The Daily Show started nightly on the Comedy Channel on Monday — a great idea whose time hasn't quite come. But it glistens with possibility as the likely successor to Politically Incorrect when it departs for broader broadcast horizons.
Daily is an easy but mixed and initially nervous bag of Saturday Night Live "Weekend Update''-like newsy items — some of them rippling with lucidity — some chitchat and a few remote reports, ranging from smug (such as ''The Kathie Lee Quote of the Day'') to witty to in-between.
The anchor is Craig Kilborn, most recently an anchor with SportsCenter on ESPN. He projects a wry attitude, loose and a little cocky, in keeping with a sort of Saturday Night Live irreverence. He was a little tight for the night and many of his comedy lines were DOA.
Of course, there's no audience as in SNL to point out where the jokes are — if there are jokes there — but too many belabor the easy and obvious. Especially the top-of-the-news items full of old Bob Dole jokes, this being old Dole's 73rd birthday.
But there are flashes of funny, including a cleverly straight-faced report by correspondent Brian Unger on the passing of the late, great Princess Kitty, a prominent puss of TV commercials, whose mother (not her biological mother) burbles on about the revered princess.
If there's a discovery of talent on the opening seg it was head writer Lizz Winstead, the show's co-creator (with executive producer Madeleine Smithberg). She projected a lot of brainy sparkle and was at ease with the camera. — Irv Letofsky, originally published July 24, 1996.