INTERVIEW: What Ugandan Writer on Trevor Noah’s ‘The Daily Show’ Said on 6 Emmy Awards Nominations


Joseph Opio (circled) with Trevor Noah and the rest of ‘The Daily Show’ team.
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U.S. late-night talk and news satire television program ‘The Daily Show with Trevor Noah’ has scored six nominations in this year’s Emmy Awards.

The highly acclaimed American Awards that recognizes excellence in the television industry, nominated ‘The Daily Show’ in the categories: Variety Talk Series, Writing for a Variety Series, Directing for a Variety Series, Sound Mixing for a Variety Series or Special, Picture Editing for Variety Programming, and Short Form Nonfiction or Reality Series.

Trevor Noah, Africa’s biggest stand-up comedian who is South African couldn’t hide the excitement. He took to Twitter to express what an honour it is.

Trevor has been hosting the show since 2015 after John Stewart who was host since 1999 left.

The Daily Show airs each Monday through Thursday on Comedy Central, taking a format of a comedy, satirical program with focus on politics and news events.

It is the longest-running program on Comedy Central and has won 24 Primetime Emmy Awards.

But before the show airs, it undergoes a process that begins with writers (about 20 in total) meeting to review material that researchers have gathered from major newspapers, cable news television channels and websites, and discuss headline material for the lead news segment.

Among these writers are Ugandan born comedian, Joseph Opio and Ugandan-born South African, David Kibuuka.

SoftPower News spoke to Joseph Opio to get a sense of what the 2020 Emmys nominations means to him and for The Daily Show. 

“It’s always satisfying to get recognized for all the hard work we put into the show every night. But even more importantly, the Primetime Emmys reward excellence in American TV and are voted for by creative professionals who work in the showbiz industry,” Opio told SoftPower News in an interview.

He says the Emmys are so special, describing them as  “an annual performance review conducted by your own peers”. 

“And an Emmy nomination is a public acknowledgement by your peers that you have been hitting the ball out of the park night in, night out”.

While Trevor Noah is the face of the show, the credit that comes with such a nomination extends to every single person -writers, correspondents, co-hosts, producers, TV crew – that makes a contribution to the final product.

Opio said “I know my coworkers are the best and brightest in late night comedy” and that the six Emmy nominations The Daily Show received this year “are just further confirmation of that fact”. 

“It’s the showbiz industry preaching to me what I already believe,” he adds.

While still in Uganda, Opio hosted ‘LOL’, a nightly satirical show on Urban Television. Like The Daily Show, LOL dwelled on current affairs that Opio presented with a flavour of hard-hitting humor. Fair to say it was pretty much a smooth sail for him to fit in at the New York based studio where he now plies his trade.

He refers to working with Trevor Noah as the best rollercoaster ride of his life.

“Trevor inherited an American institution in 2015 and that brought with it lots of pressure and a heavy burden of expectation. But slowly by slowly and through sheer hard work, he’s managed to rise up to those expectations and craft The Daily Show into his own comedic image without losing the essence of the show or any of the prestige he found it with,” he told this news website

“As someone who was a fan of The Daily Show long before I was a writer on The Daily Show, it’s been an immense privilege to have a courtside seat and watch Trevor weave his magic every night”. 

As a writer on the show, Opio likens himself to a machine that’s supposed to deliver jokes on demand. 

“If Trevor is the Willy Wonka and The Daily Show is the Chocolate Factory, then I’m part of a bunch of Oompa Loompas who are there to help Trevor craft the best candy he can for the fans of the show”. 

“It’s a dream job,” Opio adds, “and a ton of fun, as well”.

Since 2015 when he joined the team, Opio has written close to 800 episodes. But his role extends beyond mere writing down of the content.

“We pitch segments and sketches, contribute to field production and are heavily involved in writing the daily script for every episode. I have written close to 800 episodes since I joined the show in 2015… and I have deeply enjoyed every bit of the process”.

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