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Interview With Comedy Central's Ed Helms

Aired January 24, 2004 - 18:42   ET


CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, joining me now straight from the campaign trail in New Hampshire is Comedy Central correspondent Ed Helms.
Hi there, Ed.

ED HELMS, COMEDY CENTRAL: Hey, Carol, how are you doing?

LIN: I'm doing just fine. I'm wondering, you know, as you watch these elements like John Edwards there on the show, how seriously do you take your work?

HELMS: Well that's a very interesting question.

I don't care.

No, actually -- comedy is hard work, so I think we all take it very seriously, but you have to keep in mind that what we take seriously is the comedy. Not the subject matter. We're not -- we don't make any pretense of being a news show.

LIN: And yet what's your reaction to that poll? I mean, basically, one in five young people under thirty get most of their information about the presidential campaign from shows like yours.

HELMS: Yes, it's a little disconcerting, to be honest. But again, I think it's also a little misleading. I don't think people get their news from our show as much as they tune into our show to get comedy and happen to also get a spattering of current events and political news. In other words...

LIN: Do you stick pretty much to the facts on the ground?

HELMS: Not at all. We make up a lot of stuff. And we have a lot of fun with it. And that's why I don't -- I don't -- it's pretty clear I think when we're kidding and when -- and when we're stating facts and then we're sort of riffing on the facts and making jokes about them so it's -- I can see how people would actually garner some legitimate information from our show but it's a little bit like you know doing your grocery shopping at the candy store or something. Because we don't -- you're not going to get a very balanced diet or something is what I'm saying. You're not going to get a very well rounded news package from our show.

LIN: Well what are some of your impressions of these candidates so far? HELMS: Well, I think that Kucinich is an interesting character. He's a little guy -- my mom would would call him a pistol. He's just a little pistol. Like he's full of fire and energy but he's not getting paid that much attention to which is too bad because he's got a lot of interesting ideas to throw out there.

Dean is quite a charismatic guy and I tell you why I like Dean a lot -- he is really -- he has made this race a much better race. He's forced a lot of the other candidates to kind of rise to his level of charisma and passion and get and get their ideas out there in the same way that he has. His ideas are sometimes a little muddled, and his passion sometimes gets mixed with a little vitriol which has come back and bitten him on the tushy a time or two, but let's see -- who else we got?

LIN: John Kerry in the lead.

HELMS: Running away with it, it looks like and very impressive showing. I think he's smart and he's got a lot of...

LIN: And he's pretty athletic. Did you see him on the ice?

HELMS: Yes, but that wasn't -- come on. He wasn't really scoring a lot of goals out there. I think he's -- he should stick to the politics and avoid hockey but he's -- he's an interesting guy and I think he's one of the people who I was referring to before who dean has really sort of forced to -- forced him to raise his game to another level. And get some more passion and charisma into his presentation.

LIN: And isn't there a time or two when you've actually asked a question of the candidates and freaked them out a little bit?

HELMS: I can't personally take credit for that, but our show has done that a number of times and it's always a lot of fun because we are always in there sort of turning the screws a little bit and throw a little bit of irony into the mix and sometimes call people on issues or policies or ideas that they typically don't think about.

LIN: You have a favorite moment?

HELMS: So when you do -- I'm going to have to say my favorite moment of political coverage in the history of "The Daily Show" and this is a wide favorite among the staffers was when Steve Correll asked Senator McCain on the "Straight Talk Express" a bunch of softball questions and set him up and then asked him a really tough political question and it freaked him out, and it was a really great moment because it highlighted the discrepancy between a politician just sort of having fun and bantering and trying to get his image out there, looking good, and then all of a sudden being smacked with cold, hard reality.

LIN: You know, it's nice to cut through the sound bites and certainly when I watch your coverage you have a way of driving the point home. If not the facts. Definitely the point.

HELMS: Well, thanks -- hopefully it's just funny at the end of the day.

LIN: You bet, lots of fun. Thanks so much Ed.

HELMS: Thank you Carol.

LIN: Stay warm.

HELMS: You too.


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