Stop Smiling Magazine. Issue #15. (Fall, 2003)
Mugged By Reality : The Stop
Smiling Day-in-the-life Story At The Daily Show
By JC Gabel
Photography By Jordan Nogee
(Interviews by correspondents and behind the scenes at The Daily Show)
Correspondent Ed Helms
After lunch, I saddled up with Ed Helms. "For me, there's no regular day here," he told me as I walked in the door. "There's no regular schedule [and] every day is kind of different. There are basically three types of days here. [First off] a shoot day, where we're in the field and we get up early and go out and shoot interviews all day. Those days are typically stressful, wall-to-wall workdays. Then the in-studio days where we're doing a chat with Jon for the show and would involve us having to work with the writers during the day and then at night going into rehearsal, and then [finally] there are those days that will overlap and there's nothing really happening, so you come into the office and fiddle around on your e-mail and try to look busy."
Can a "Daily Show" correspondent appear in other media outlets on TV?
"I mean a long as we run it by the Comedy Central publicity department. They're cool with just about anything as long as it doesn't compete thematically or performance wise." said Helms of the open door policy Comedy Central abide by for its trusted correspondents. "If I were to do a correspondent type character on another show, like at VH1, that would be the kind of thing where they'd be like, 'no, sorry.' But I think this is a really amazing thing. It speaks really well of the way the place is run. It's just sort of keeps everybody excited and happy to be here."
Helms, 28 [sic] is originally from Atlanta, Georgia. He described his childhood as being "basically like Huck Finn, but less cornbread, less catfish, less walking around without shoes, and more modern amenities, more rules and regulations, more schooling, less fishing holes, and more skateboarding."
Having attended Oberlin in Ohio, he found his way to New York City. At the time, he was looking for a job in film. He started editing, and worked as an assistant on commercials. But he had always wanted to do comedy, so he quit his job to work with the Upright Citizens Brigade, an improv theater group.
"I'd worked here in New York for a couple summers doing stand-up. If I had to go back to where I made a commitment to go full-time and really try to make it as a comedian and performer/writer, I think that was probably four years from when I started doing stand-up. [in 1998] Two years after that I started doing improv. I was doing it half-assed and then at a certain point I just cut the cord and was like "Fuck it."
As the newest and youngest correspondent on the show, Helms certainly knows how to practice what he preaches.
"The only way to get anywhere in anything is to totally sink yourself in it," he said, finishing up his earlier thought, "especially something like comedy where there's such an investment in the development and education process. A lot of people think that doing standup is natural and easy because it looks that way, but it's a tremendous amount of work and as soon as that dawned on me, I was like, 'I have to try this and develop myself.' So I took the plunge and it been a scary career [ever since]."