Welcome to this week’s Members Only column, dear Banterers, where I will regale you with a tale or two, and tease you with all of the goodies I couldn’t find for you this week. In a really weird coincidence, I stumbled across photos and videos that I thought were long lost as I readied last week’s Members Only piece, and they were of my Election Night 2008 coverage of Comedy Central’s viewing party. Then, Jon Stewart announced his retirement, like, the next day, so I figured this was the week to share them.
Unfortunately, a whole mess of that material remains long and lost, because back in 2008, hard drive space was hard to come by, so I was really shit at saving video I wasn’t going to use. Although I interviewed just about every Daily Show and 30 Rock castmember who was at the party, only one of those clips survives, and a whole mess of the photos are missing, too. They may still exist on a memory card somewhere, but as of right now, I know not where. This is currently the best I can do.
At that time, I was covering the campaign for AOL’s Political Machine, which became PoliticsDaily, and I scored am invite to the viewing party because one of my regular readers was also an executive in Comedy Central’s media shop. It was the first time I’d ever covered anything like this, so I had no fucking idea what I was doing, and since AOL had nothing to do with getting me in, I didn’t much care. The party consisted of everyone from The Daily Show and 30 Rock who wasn’t actually on the show that night, and lots of other seemingly random celebrities.
I spent the first hour or so trying to follow election results and live-blog them, but then, the open bar and the ridiculous surroundings got the better of me. Things were looking really good for Obama, so I decided to go mingle, get some shots, drink some shots, whatever. At the time, I had about 4 different cameras that I’d use, and so for some reason, this one video, of me talking to Jane Krakowski and, I think, calling her “Jenna” has survived:
I had to keep the camera close like that because it was so loud, you’d never hear her otherwise. The “Jack” I was asking her about was Jack McBrayer, who was, indeed, off in the direction indicated by Krakowski’s companion. He was very friendly, and spoke exactly like his character on 30 Rock did. As I old Jane, I asked everyone I met that night what they’d do if McCain won, but hers was the only answer I still have. I did find a picture of Jack and me:
As you can see, it was dark as fuck in there. If I remember correctly, there was a “money in politics” theme for the party, so everyone who went got a bag of tokens to feed into specially-designed Indecision ’08 slot machines, or to play skee-ball, for some reason. At a certain point, I realized I was drinking too much.
That point was when I whirled around on a guy who’d knocked into me and almost spilled my beer and said “Fucking asshole!” and saw that the fucking asshole was Ethan Hawke. He’s lucky he’s Ethan Hawke, I thought, then proceeded to strike up a conversation with Seann William Scott, while desperately trying to remember if he was Seann William Scott, Robert Sean Leonard, or Sean Patrick Flanery. That’s tough to do even sober. I got him to talk on camera a little, but then he got spooked, and asked me not to use it. I told him not to worry, but if I had it, I would totally show it to all of you, and if I ever find it, I promise I will. I never told him I wouldn’t use it, I just said “Don’t worry.”
Also interviewed by me but lost forever were every other person I met that night, but I did manage to dig up some of the photographs that were heretofore unseen. The media beat wasn’t what it is today, so behind the scenes stuff like this wasn’t in high demand by AOL, plus the pictures and footage were really dark, so I never used any of it. This shot is too dark to identify everyone in it, but that’s definitely John Oliver and Demetri Martin in the center. Tell me if you think you can identify the others:
I remember after I took this picture, I had a fairly lengthy conversation with Larry Wilmore, whom I would run into again at Obama’s first press conference. I don’t remember all of what we talked about, but I do remember that we discussed the hot take, at the time, that it would be harder to make fun of Obama. There’s video of Larry somewhere, too, but here’s a picture for now:
There’s also video of me cracking a joke that managed to offend Jason Jones, and which I cannot remember, but he took a picture with me anyway:
This is Aasif Mandvi and me:
Also among the video treasures that I lost was a great piece of video featuring 30 Rock‘s Scott Adsit and Wyatt Cenac ad-libbing a bit in that media tent.
It was well after 2 am when the party wrapped up, and still, no appearance from Jon Stewart, but Cenac and Oliver and a few others invited me to competing after-party parties, one of which was a diner that Stewart was to be showing up at, too. Now, this being one of my first rodeos, I had brought my girlfriend along to “help out,”but mainly so she could have a good time, but she wanted to head home. For the briefest moment, I considered flying off into the night and letting her drive home, then improvising my own way back to New Jersey the next morning, but what could loosely be called chivalry won out.
Now, Jon Stewart is leaving The Daily Show, and the chances of me sharing 3 am pancakes with him are slimmer than ever, but that’s the price you pay for love sometimes.