31. The Daily Show: Season 10 (2006)

It’s Got: Everyone you remember from The Daily Show either quitting or being hired, Indecision 2006, Dick Cheney shooting a guy in the face.

This is probably the pick that really cements this as a list of personal favourites. The tenth season of The Daily Show, which spanned all of 2006 and weathered some massive changes, coincided with the longest and most pivotal year of my life to date. I graduated high school and went onto university, and experienced all the milestones that mark the end of childhood and beginning of adulthood. I forged some pivotal relationships, I never again saw people I figured would be around my whole life, I traveled to some great places, I started paying attention to world events, I developed perspective on what was important to me in life, and so on. In January, I was some kid I don’t even understand anymore. In December, I was recognizable as the person I am today.

Through all of that, one of the very few constants was The Daily Show. I’d always liked it, but only started watching it with obsessive regularity early that year. All the episodes are on the website, and I can’t watch a segment from 2006 without thinking of what might have been happening to me that particular week, good or bad.

But if I take everything personal out of the equation, I still think this was a banner season for The Daily Show. There’ve been more tumultuous years politically speaking, but 2006 still traversed a really quite dynamic arc in its own right. At the very beginning of the year, although the Bush Administration had a lot to contend with, it was almost as powerful as it’s ever been. Then, the scandals began mounting, and so did Jon Stewart’s righteous indignation. Seriously, remember all that crap Republicans had to deal with that year? Illegal wiretapping, Cheney shooting that old guy in the face, that weird thing where Bush gave Merkel an uncomfortable neck rub, and that creep Mark Foley, to name the best of the best. No matter what inexplicable thing was happening in the world, I felt like I could always count on The Daily Show to be the voice of reason.

2006 is also a year in which a lot of the best correspondents have overlapping tenures. Ed Helms and Rob Corddry were on their way out, and Stephen Colbert was still checking in with Jon four nights a week. Samantha Bee returned after a maternity leave, while her husband, recent hire Jason Jones, really came into his own with some amazing field pieces. And John Oliver, Aasif Mandvi, John Hodgman, Rob Riggle and Larry Wilmore all made their debut. It had to have been a bit tumultuous, and all of these new guys had to grow on me, but looking back, it’s pretty cool to have a single year in which virtually everyone I associate with The Daily Show were all around at various points. If I for some reason was only ever allowed to watch Daily Show clips from one season, it’d be this, the tenth fucking year.

If I Had to Nitpick…: I never thought Dan Bakkedahl was all that funny, he was around this entire year.

Notable Episodes: That doesn’t really work, but here’s something even better: notable clips!

Cheney’s Got a Gun
Rambling Man
The Decider
Merkel Neck Rub
Desperate Soundbites

#32 | THE LIST | #30

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