The Daily Show

Comedian Wyatt Cenac comes to the UT SAC

On Wednesday, writer and comedian Wyatt Cenac brings his stand-up routine to UT. Cenac is renown for his humorous reporting and writing for Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” He covered political issues for the presidential campaign as well as African American issues, creatively weaving awareness and comedy into his pieces.

The Daily Texan spoke with Cenac about "The Daily Show" and his comedy routine.

The Daily Texan: When working with "The Daily Show," did you have enough time to also work on your stand-up routine?

Wyatt Cenac: I was a stand-up before I was working there, so stand-up was the thing that I continued to do even when I had time off. I would go off — even when we were doing the show — I would perform in the city when I had time.

DT: What made you want to continue your stand-up even while working with "The Daily Show?"

WC: My stand-up is sort of my perspective and my view on things, and I think that, with "The Daily Show," you’re kind of speaking through the show’s voice and Jon’s voice. For me, stand-up has been a great opportunity and way for me to talk about the things I wanted to talk about. It’s ultimately his show — you’re working to help him produce the best version of what he’s got in his head. So for me again I think stand-up and individual projects were my way of producing what I’ve got in my head.

DT: Why did you leave "The Daily Show?"

WC: I felt it was time — I felt like I had kind of done everything I wanted to do there and said everything that I had wanted to say.

DT: What did "The Daily Show" represent for you, as far as your career is concerned?

WC: The show, I think was a learning experience. On some levels it was like going to a kind of a graduate school, where there was a lot of stuff I had to learn. I wasn’t the most politically interested person when I started at the show, so I had to learn so much and watch and digest so much of kind of the news of the day. 

DT: What was the best part of working with "The Daily Show" team? Was it the people, the locations and events you got to cover, or the writing you got to do?

WC: At the end of the day, it’s always the people. There are a lot of really talented people that work at that show — from the PA’s to the writers, to the correspondents to the producers — there are so many talented people working behind the scenes that are not just talented, they're wonderful to be around. I think those relationships are things I will always cherish and hold dear. I am always happy when I get to reconnect with people form the show, whether it’s going to grab a beer or eat some food, or just getting together for anything. I think to me that’s probably the thing that means the most from the show. There are definitely pieces and things I’ve done that I’ve enjoyed or had fun doing. But it’s the relationships and things that came from the show that will mean the most.

DT: How has working at "The Daily Show" changed your stand-up routine, if at all?

WC: Jon had nothing to do with my [stand-up] comedy. They’re two very different things. There are definitely times where I’ve done shows where people come in with the expectation that I’ll do a one-man version of "The Daily Show." That’s not what I did when I was at the show and that’s not what I’m doing now. If anything, any evolution that’s happened from a stand up perspective I would attribute to the New York comedy scene and its various venues.

DT: How would you describe your comedy routine and the subject matter it deals with?

WC: You know, I always find this an odd question because it’s kind of weird to step out of myself and say “that’s what my comedy is — it feels like this.” Whenever I watch "Top Chef," and they describe their genre, the only question I’d ask is “Does it taste good?” That’s all I give a shit about. “Does it make you laugh?” That’s the point. There is enough of me telling jokes on the Internet that someone else can watch and they’re more than welcome to describe it.

Who: Wyatt Cenac
When: Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m.
Where: SAC Auditorium (SAC 1.402)
Cost: Free with a UT student I.D.

After appearances on Fox News, The Today Show, The Daily Show and CNN’s Sunday morning program, Gov. Rick Perry returned to Texas from his whirlwind book tour last week.

The tour has launched a new wave of speculation that Perry is thinking about running for president in 2012, something the governor has steadfastly denied every time he’s been asked about it.

“I have the best job in America,” Perry said Friday on American Morning News, a conservative radio talk show. “I truly think that governors are where the rubber meets the road. It’s where the action is.”

The Associated Press reported on Saturday that Perry is expected to be named the head of the Republican Governors Association at its meeting in San Diego that begins Monday and lasts until Thursday, which Perry plans to attend. If he accepts the position, it could complicate a presidential run because Perry would have to raise funds for both the RGA and a presidential bid.

While running for re-election, Perry announced plans to raise his national profile by creating a coalition of conservative Republican governors with the aim of campaigning around the country to stop what Perry calls the excesses of Washington, D.C.

“Not long ago, the candidate book tour was rare,” said H. W. Brands, a history and government professor. “Now, it has become almost mandatory.”

President Barack Obama wrote his second book before running for president in 2008. Former President George W. Bush co-wrote a 1999 biography about himself that described his political philosophy before running for president. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich has also recently released a book and is openly considering a run for the presidency.

Brands said writing a book allows potential candidates to define themselves and their positions and philosophies before being hit by the glaring media spotlight of a national political campaign.

“[Candidate’s books] provide a biography; they show the candidates to be thinkers and writers; they give the media a reason to interview the candidates long before the candidates have to declare themselves,” Brands said.

Perry, for instance, wrote extensively about federal issues in “Fed Up!: Our Fight to Save America from Washington.”

There are other political considerations that drive candidates to release books before they declare whether they’re going to run for the presidency, said government professor Daron Shaw.

“There are two purposes to [writing a book]: It keeps you in the public eye and it generates media coverage,” Shaw said. “It helps the candidate gain entry and experience with reporters. It allows you to plug into Washington-based networks that can be useful when you set up an exploratory committee to run for office.”