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Not Funny: ESPN Fails to Understand The Daily Show

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The newest word on the interwebs is that the fine folks at ESPN are contemplating

Daily Show

-type programming

for ESPN 2

. They feel they need to do something to get viewers to turn on the Deuce after ten o’clock at night, and they apparently feel that comedy-talk programming is the way to go.

There are a couple of problems with this, I think.

First, it seems to me that ESPN is missing the point of The Daily Show. They think it’s a funny show about politics, so they want to do a funny show about sports. But if you really pay attention to The Daily Show, you know that it’s actually a funny show about the media in which politics play a very large role. The whole conceit revolves around the pompous anchors and reporters who don’t care about facts but are more interested in he-said/she-said arguments. The jokes come from President Bush saying something really stupid, then showing how the media completely change the statement to one of genius.

ESPN thinks it can do The Daily Show about sports, but for the show to work, they’ve got to make fun of the broadcasts. And does anyone out there really think ESPN is going to let someone in their employ go on air and point out the utter lack of content in Dick Vitale’s analysis, or make fun of Mel Kiper’s inability to nail draft choices, or ask why it’s John Kruk who is pontificating on the art of playing the outfield on Baseball Tonight?

I don’t think so.

But my biggest problem is really a simple one: Why doesn’t ESPN just program sports? It’s a sports network, after all. Do we really need even more versions of Around The Horn or Jim Rome Is Burning or Pardon The Interruption? And let’s face it, Keith Olbermann, Dan Patrick, Craig Kilborn and Charley Steiner are gone. Those guys were funny. They could probably pull off the type of program that ESPN wants to do – in fact, they did; the late edition of SportsCenter in the '90s was a thing of beauty full of wit, intelligence and sports.

So, ESPN, I’ve got an idea for ESPN 2. Show live sporting events. And if there isn’t a sporting event, then how about a straight sports wrap-up show. You know, something with scores and analysis. Forget the forced humor. Don’t give us anymore of that “cool side of the pillow” crap. Just give the scores and analysis. Leave the buffoons and stupidity to Fox’s NFL Sunday pregame.

Trust me on this: straight scores and analysis, that we’ll watch. Mohr Sports, we won’t. – John Royal

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