At the Daily Show With Aasif Mandvi; A Tampa Guy at the Tip of a Cultural Phenomenon
Of course, Jon Stewart and his cast of faux-journalists weren't exactly there. Those guys were elsewhere in the shows sprawling, 44,000 square-foot office/studio space, kicking around ideas (for those of you who saw Stewart live in Tampa last year, wearing two t-shirt and khaki pants, he seemed to be wearing the exact same ensemble today!)
I visited Daily's digs along west 52nd st. earlier today, to hang out a bit with the show's Tampa-raised, British-born Mideast Correspondent Aasif Mandvi. also known as "that guy who fired Spider Man" in the superhero movie's sequel, Mandvi is a thoughtful actor who is relishing a regular job satirizing the nation's agita on race, culture, religion and politics at a time when all these subjects are on society's front burner.
I'm going to save the quotes for later, when I work our conversation into a full-on feature for the print newspaper. But we spent nearly two hours together, talking about everything from Hollywood's inability to deal well with race issues to the culture shock he experienced as a teen when his family moved from a working class neighborhood in Britain to 1980s-era Tampa.
Along the way, I got a tour of Daily's sprawling loft of an office, with the kind of casual air usually reserved for college dorm lounges. I traded a few quips with correspondent Jason Jones -- I talked so long with Mandvi, he accused me of writing a book on him -- and got a glimpse of John Hodgman (PC Guy from the Apple commercials), who appears in a bit tonight.
Unfortunately, I came a day late to see Aasif's latest gag, in which he "reported" from inside the graphics of the bloody new video game Grand Theft Auto IV, satirizing the nation's thirst for pixilated blood and Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia's lawyerly claim that torture isn't necessarily considered punishment (as in "cruel and unusual")
I've got to cut this post short, because I'm checking out the show taping at 6 p.m.; even though Aasif doesn't appear in the program tonight, I'm hoping to soak up some color and maybe meet ace researcher Adam Chodikoff, who was the subject of much buzz in the office today over a cool feature in the Washington Post on his work digging up the show's striking video clips.