It's not often that a university press author gets on television at all, let alone onto one of the country's most popular comedy shows. So we were all very excited at Duke University Press when author Ben Lowy, the fifth winner of the Center for Documentary Studies/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography, told us he might get to be on The Daily Show. Lowy was assigned to take behind-the-scenes photos of the show for Rolling Stone. Jon Stewart found his work as a war photographer fascinating and asked him to come on the show. Once the book, Iraq | Perspectives, came out, it was up to us at the Press to ship copies, follow-up with producers, and make sure that invite became reality.
The show was booked, logistics were coordinated and at last the big day arrrived. Two of us from the Press, Emily Young, Marketing Director, and Laura Sell, Senior Publicist, attended the taping, along with Alexa Dilworth from the Center for Documentary Studies, several of Ben Lowy's contacts at Getty Images, and his wife, Marvi Lacar. While Ben and Marvi relaxed backstage in the green room, meeting Jon Stewart and checking out the swag, the rest of us picked up our pink "VIP" tickets and went through security. Then we waited in an area outside the studio for what seemed like an hour but was probably half that. An intern reminded us to turn off our phones, spit our our gum, and told us we couldn't take pictures inside the studio. Finally we were ushered into the studio, where the audience coordinators made sure we had front row seats. A comedian warmed the audience up, telling us it was our responsibility to laugh and clap really, really loud, so the home audience wouldn't get bored and "be forced to interact with their families" instead of watching the show.
At last Jon Stewart came out. He took questions from the audience, made fun of Canada, and threatened to walk out of the studio when someone suggested he run for office. And then it was time for the show! With the audience around us, it felt even funnier than at home. Our attention was split between the live Jon and screens all around the studio that played the video clips. A previously taped piece by John Oliver ran, and during the commercial break Oliver came out, waved to us in the audience, and conferred with Jon about how they would edit the piece for final broadcast. The interview portion is the third act in the show, so by the time Ben came on stage our excitment was high. He looked relaxed, though later he told us he was afraid he might trip on the raised stage as he came out. Each time Jon showed the book we were thrilled, and Alexa Dilworth, the book's editor, even teared up a bit watching it.
Too soon the show was over and we were ushered out of the studio. Ben met us on the sidewalk outside where we all congratulated him for a great interview. And now, of course, we hope it sells some books! Head over to our website or to your favorite bookstore or online retailer and pick one up. It's gorgeous and makes a great gift.