“That’s bullshit,” Case said. “It’s not anything time sensitive. It would still be there if this show tanks.”
Bleyer’s face lit up. “I love it,” he said, gesturing toward Case. “He’s now using Hollywood talk. He says ‘If this show tanks,’ whereas the international-development language would be something like ‘If this show doesn’t find its audience,’ or ‘If this show—’ ”
“ ‘—doesn’t yield the results,’ ” Case said, laughing.
“ ‘—yield the results as prescribed in the grant agreement,’ ” Bleyer said.
“ ‘Too many challenges prevented it from reaching its desired output,’ ” Case said.
Eventually, Channels nailed down Bakassi. The first time I met him, he was sitting at the head of a table in the executive boardroom of Channels, watching the test episode. His assistant and a Channels producer looked on. Bakassi wore a linen shirt with a black-and-white traditional pattern, black linen pants, and an enormous pinky ring, which he tapped against the table when he was thinking. American comedians tend to be ill-kempt and socially awkward. Bakassi has a stately presence and not a whiff of self-doubt. A trained agricultural engineer, he speaks with a measured precision that brings to mind a newscaster from the golden age of American broadcasting. In his view, Nigeria is a great place for a comedian. “Our people, we’re full of drama,” he said.
Bakassi finished watching the test episode in silence. There was a long pause. Nobody was happy with it. The sound was off, and the editing was wonky. Bakassi had used a pair of white iPhone earbuds as in-ear monitors, and they showed distractingly on the screen. There was a general agreement that the content reflected too much of Rice’s voice, resulting in a watered-down, Jay Leno-as-Nigerian monologue, delivered uncomfortably by Bakassi. “A good effort,” Bakassi said—then he quickly launched into complaints. Some of the team members were “writing for a white audience,” he said. “We still have to make it local in terms of content.”
The son of an Army officer, Bakassi had travelled extensively in Nigeria as a kid, giving him a love for the diversity of the country. His emphasis on Nigerian culture occasionally put him in conflict with the writers, who were younger and well versed in American and British pop culture. Bakassi frequently replaced Western pop-culture references with Nigerian ones, striking a clip from “Harry Potter” in favor of a clip from a Nollywood movie, and simplifying wordplay for viewers whose primary language was not English. At one point, he argued to Case that the talent should wear Nigerian caftans instead of Western suits, showing him a variety of colorful fabrics. “There is a rising tide of nationalism, and they should nod to that,” he said. Case disagreed, saying that the show had to look like other Channels programming.
In the conference room, the P.M.I. staff assured Bakassi that the pilot would be more authentically Nigerian than the test episode. “The first show had a lot of my influence, and I wrote for white TV for twenty-five years,” Rice said. “But this show will be a hundred per cent Nigerian all the time.”
This exchange was one of many times when I thought of an essay by the Nigerian-American novelist, critic, and photographer Teju Cole called “The White-Savior Industrial Complex,” which ran in The Atlantic in 2012. The piece responded to “Kony 2012,” the viral video with which a U.S. nonprofit, fronted by the California-based humanitarian Jason Russell, launched a campaign to encourage the international community to defeat the notorious Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony. In the essay, Cole takes aim at the long history of Americans using Africa as “a backdrop for white fantasies of conquest and heroism.” In their zeal to “make a difference,” Cole argues, the members of the White-Savior Industrial Complex, which include ted talkers and development economists, journalists and international charities, have tended to seize on dramatic measures that attract tons of media attention and donor funds but don’t actually help Africans. Although Case and Bleyer were humble about their project’s aims and held a sincere belief in the power of satire to help bolster democracy, I was constantly troubled by the question of whose interests “The Other News” really served.
When I visited Cole in his photography studio, in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, he was unsurprisingly skeptical about P.M.I.’s project. “I think you know what I’m going to say,” he said. “It sounds a bit white savior-ish.” One of Cole’s biggest gripes is that the focus on the savior often erases the agency of the Africans being helped. I told him about Case and Bleyer’s idea that they would simply provide the form of “The Daily Show” and let the Nigerian staff fill in the content. For Cole, it wasn’t enough just to transplant a successful American format to Nigeria. For the project to work, he continued, it had to be “something that gives you access to the Nigerian-ness of Nigerians.”
Nigerians are well practiced at mocking their leaders. The country’s first political cartoonist, Akinola Lasekan, was a self-taught artist from southwestern Nigeria, who signed his cartoons, in the anti-colonialist newspaper the West African Pilot, “Lash.” Cartooning was a European art, and the newspapers it appeared in were introduced to Nigeria by European missionaries. Yet, as the art historian Yomi Ola writes in her book “Satires of Power in Yoruba Visual Culture,” Lasekan, in his critique of British rule, drew on a Yoruba tradition of using satire, in the form of masks and statues, to call out bad behavior.
A recurring motif in Lasekan’s work is an oversized Briton perfectly balanced on the back of a distressed African, in an echo of Yoruba sculptures depicting royal hierarchies. In a two-panel cartoon done after the Second World War, Lasekan captured the rising resistance to colonialism: in the first panel, a black soldier and a white soldier are marching together; in the second, the black man serves the white man a drink. The caption reads “Comrade in War, Vassal in Peace?” After independence, Lasekan was succeeded by a new generation of cartoonists, who found countless targets in a procession of corrupt, dictatorial, and incompetent Nigerian leaders.
Cole pulled up a clip on his laptop from the playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa’s classic sitcom “Basi and Company,” in which the greed and corruption that accompanied the flood of oil money into Nigeria in the eighties is represented by the schemer Basi, whose get-rich-quick plans always blow up in his face. More recently, the Internet has unleashed a torrent of memes and viral videos that deflate Nigerian leaders. Patience Jonathan, the wife of the former President Goodluck Jonathan, was a common subject. “She had a persecution complex,” Cole explained. “She thought the Chibok girls”—the two hundred and seventy-six schoolgirls whose kidnapping by Boko Haram sparked international outrage—“was done to embarrass her.” Her outlandishly dramatic public appearances were chopped up into techno remixes that have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times on YouTube. There is also a more elevated style. A lawyer who writes under the name TexTheLaw has a blog called Chronicles of Chill, on which Nigerian political figures feature as thinly disguised characters in a fantasy novel.
“This is why I’m, like, Why is it two white guys?” Cole said. “Nigeria is already way beyond you guys, doing its own thing. We have ‘Hitler reacts’ videos!” In the famous meme, a movie version of Hitler is made to have a meltdown about a wide range of subjects, including the Seahawks’ loss in the Super Bowl and a Twitter service outage. In a clip Cole showed me, Hitler reacts to a viral video of a Nigerian government spokesman who had forgotten the URL of his organization’s Web site.
Today in Nigeria, there are slapstick comics, who are as much mimes as comedians; comedians who trade in ethnic humor in local languages; and urban comedians, speaking pidgin, who mock Nollywood celebrities and musicians. Nigerian standup comedians m.c. weddings, birthday parties, and burial ceremonies, where they have largely replaced the radio hosts and television personalities who used to preside. The biggest standup comedians sell out large shows and star in multimillion-dollar-grossing films.
While in Lagos, I went to a café that each Wednesday is converted into a comedy club called Unknot Your Tie. Office workers from the nearby business district sat at round tables drinking large bottles of beer. Multiple comedians took the stage at once. Offstage, a d.j. and a keyboardist accented the jokes. The show’s three hosts took turns jumping up onstage to interrupt the performers’ five minutes. The performers roasted the hosts in return. Audience members roasted the comedians and other audience members. It felt like a giddy democracy.
The history of standup comedy in Nigeria, as with cartooning, is that of a deep-rooted culture finding resonance with a foreign art form. The formal practice of telling jokes in front of an audience originated with the village spokesmen who host public events, spicing them up with wit and humorous anecdotes, according to Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, the former head of Nigeria’s National Institute for Cultural Orientation. Comedy was also a part of traditional Nigerian theatre and storytelling long before standup came to the country, in the nineteen-eighties. One of the fathers of professional standup comedy is a fifty-three-year-old comedian named Atunyota Alleluya Akpobome, who goes by the stage name Ali Baba. He got his start in college, where his talent for making fun of popular students and administrators won him gigs as an opener for school events. Ali Baba watched videos of Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor, and was inspired by a tradition of African-American comedy that used humor to cope with racism and oppression. He told me, “If standup was used at the time for emancipation, for entertainment, for expression of their feelings, for them to be able to water down the effects of the damage that being enslaved had cost them, then it was wise for me to also use that.”
Laughter as an antidote to adversity is a recurring theme. In 1995, the filmmaker and producer Opa Williams launched Nigeria’s first and most important comedy showcase, “Nite of a Thousand Laughs.” As Ayakoroma tells it, one of Williams’s inspirations came during a visit to a hospital to shoot a Nollywood film. There, he ran into an actor who had been injured in a car crash, and the cast and crew began making jokes in order to comfort him. “It occurred to me that laughter could be a healing balm,” Williams later told a journalist. At the time, the country had been under military dictatorship for more than a decade. Two years earlier, an attempt at transitioning to democracy had been thwarted, when General Sani Abacha seized power and installed a new junta. “The military considered anything you said as the voice of the opposition,” Ali Baba told me. In 1998, Abacha died, and his successor, Abdulsalami Abubakar, organized a transition to a democratic government. Nigeria’s new democratically elected leader, the former military ruler Olusegun Obasanjo, was known for his sense of humor, and he regularly invited Ali Baba to perform at the Presidential palace. “He was kind of my chief marketing officer,” Ali Baba told me.
Okey Bakassi’s standup routines often traffic in social commentary. One of his most famous bits is called “In Search of Who Wrote ‘Things Fall Apart.’ ” He tells the story of a governor who visits a school and asks a student, “Who wrote ‘Things Fall Apart’?” The student thinks that he is being accused of some terrible crime. “Not me!” he replies. The governor is shocked by the student’s ignorance of Nigeria’s most famous novel. The teacher and the principal don’t know, either, and the governor is outraged. He complains to his aide, who leaps into action. “Don’t worry, sir,” he says. “We’ll set up a mission to sniff out who did it.” At home, the governor complains to his wife. “They won’t tell you because they’re your political enemies,” she replies. “They don’t want you to succeed!”
Bakassi tells the joke with delight, but underneath boils the frustration that Nigerians have with their dysfunctional government. The country is one of the largest producers of oil in the world, but it is unable to deliver basic services, like education and electricity, to its own people, owing to widespread corruption and incompetence. The election of Buhari, in 2015, brought a surge of hope. He was the first opposition candidate ever to unseat an incumbent, and he promised to crack down on corruption, put millions of unemployed youngNigerians back to work, and end Boko Haram’s insurgency. Nearly three years later, his Presidency is bogged down by health problems and weak leadership. “People massively wanted change, and suddenly that change has become like a mirage, and they are so confused right now about what to do that they’ve become inactive,” Bakassi said one day while we were talking in the studio. “I want to be that one program that will bring people together and activate them to bring about change.”
It sounded like a campaign speech, and, in fact, Bakassi is one of the rare political satirists who is also a politician. In September, 2008, he was appointed to be a special adviser on entertainment matters by the governor of Imo State, where he grew up. Later, he launched an unsuccessful run for the state assembly. Once, on a radio show, he said that the experience of being “on the inside” had changed his views on politics.
“We cannot say that we are all innocent, because they say society gets the kind of government it deserves,” he told me. Politicians aren’t inherently evil. The main problem is the widespread practice of selling votes to the highest bidder. Given how little the government does for poor Nigerians, many of them see this as their one chance to benefit from politics. Bakassi objects on pragmatic grounds. If voters accept payment before the politician gets into office, they have little leverage with which to hold him accountable later. In addition, the expense of paying off so many voters means that the politician who wins election must find a way to recoup the money, which leads to corruption. “We demand so much from politicians when they seek elected office that at the end of the day they need to get money back,” Bakassi said.
Last year, Bakassi posted a picture to Instagram over which he’d put the text “@okeybakassi for president.” He wouldn’t be the first satirist to run for President, but, as far as I could tell, his intention was more sincere than Stephen Colbert’s, in 2008. “I’m qualified to be the President,” he said. “The only thing I don’t have is the resources. I am an educated person and I can discuss national issues and I have the burning desire to serve this country.” He continued, “Politics is simply a group of processes that people apply to get what they want.”
“If you gather twenty different Nigerians, you might get twenty different opinions,” Nwabudike said to me one day. She was explaining why it was so hard for the staff to agree on anything. I had witnessed endless debates about what angle the show should take on a controversial issue, how far to take a joke, and who should be criticized for the problems facing the country. To Nwabudike, the group’s fractiousness was a sign of a more fundamental fact of Nigerian life. “In the U.S., a lot of things are sort of communal,” she explained. “In Nigeria, it’s pretty much the opposite. If that road is bad, nobody’s going to fix it, so we all have to buy high cars to get over the potholes. If there are no lights, the government is never going to fix it, so let’s all go buy generators for ourselves.” The need for self-sufficiency, she said, made it hard to find common ground. Still, the writers shared one thing. “We’re all in that room because we believe in that show,” she said.
Sodi Kurubo explained to me how he saw the mission of “The Other News.” Some young Nigerians, he said, follow American politics more closely than they do Nigerian politics. They love “The Daily Show,” along with John Oliver and Bill Maher, whose shows are easily accessible online. “Americans don’t realize how America-focussed the rest of the world is. We get your news, we get your media,” he said. “We always have to remind ourselves that it’s another country.” As dysfunctional as our politics may seem to us, there is still a sense that the stakes are real. Kurubo saw “The Other News” as a way to direct young Nigerians’ attention back to Nigerian issues, through a form they already know.
As the writers labored over the scripts, the correspondents went around Lagos filming “field pieces,” in which they investigated pressing matters by talking to people on the street. One day, I joined Ned Rice as he went to supervise a shoot. Rice is a large man, who wears a uniform of jeans and a tucked-in T-shirt. He grew up in Detroit, and, when he is not racking his brain for one-liners, he speaks with the sonorous Midwestern accent of an oldies-radio d.j. Comedy was his calling. The first time he watched “Late Night with David Letterman,” he knew that was what he wanted to do. Rice moved to New York and began bartending at the Improv, which led, eventually, to a career as a comedy writer, including five years for “Politically Incorrect,” where he met Kevin Bleyer. Rice loved the undeniable reality of making somebody laugh, but he had been having a tough time recently. He got divorced, and moved from Los Angeles to Ann Arbor; he “wasn’t getting work,” he explained. Then he got the call from Bleyer to go to Nigeria. “I couldn’t think of a bigger adventure than comedy in Africa,” he said. Rice nagged and cajoled the writers, whom he often referred to as “kids.” He was at once the most vocally touched by his experience in Nigeria and the most obviously uncomfortable with it. After a week of shuttling between his hotel and the offices of Channels, this was his first time going out into the streets of Lagos. “I’m terrified,” he said, as we bumped down the road in a van, with a driver, a cameraman, a producer, and two correspondents, Binta Bhadmus and Mo Williams.
Williams is a lanky twenty-six-year-old who grew up in Lagos but speaks with a slight Scottish accent, which he picked up while studying law in Dundee. His comedy career started in a public-speaking class there. For an assignment, he created a standup routine about his thesis. The bit killed. He started to do comedy in clubs, and was soon being invited to perform throughout the small Dundee scene. “I do a lot of gags on my dad,” he said. “He’s, like, ‘You’re not funny.’ ” After graduation, his father summoned him back to Nigeria to find work as a lawyer. Williams wanted to stay in Scotland and do comedy, but in Nigeria, he explained, “you can’t stand up to your parents.” He continued to pursue comedy, but he was at a disadvantage, because his jokes were in English, while most standup is in pidgin. “If you do comedy in English in Nigeria, you’re fighting with a handicap,” he said. “You have to be fire.”
The van chugged up a long sloping incline overlooking a cattle market. The shoulder of the road was filled with broken-down cars, pedestrians stepping over piles of trash, and livestock. During the week, Case had noticed that people were peeing everywhere, despite the many stencilled “Do Not Urinate Here” warnings. He suggested doing a piece about the public-urination problem. An obvious place to start was to film a bunch of people peeing. (Bonus if they were peeing on a “Do Not Urinate” sign.) Suddenly, the crew began shouting. There was a man standing in front of a bush, his back to the road. “Keep your distance!” Rice said. The driver pulled up, and the cameraman leaned out the window and stuck his lens in the urinator’s face. The man grimaced. The van peeled out, and the passengers erupted into cheers. “Do people in Nigeria say ‘number one’ and ‘number two’ when they talk about going to the bathroom?” Rice asked as we drove on. “Public urination is the number-one problem in Nigeria,” he mused.
Some of the funniest parts of “The Daily Show” have typically been field pieces, but they were the biggest challenge for “The Other News.” Owing to limited resources and technical capability, television news in Nigeria doesn’t tend to employ the kinds of filmmaking and investigative work that are commonplace in the U.S. If you flip through the channels on Nigerian TV, you’ll see a lot of press conferences and interviews with officials in their offices. Case believed that, by satirizing a kind of journalism that doesn’t really exist in Nigeria, “The Other News” could actually help bring it about.
The correspondents’ training had included some basic concepts of television production, including the notion that a piece should take a “journey” that started with a question and ended with some new understanding. Yet the field pieces that attempted a complex narrative fell flat; the ones that succeeded featured simple, man-on-the-street interviews. Rice had worked on the “Tonight Show,” where one of his responsibilities had been producing the “Jaywalking” segment, in which Jay Leno approached people on the street and embarrassed them with simple general-knowledge questions that they couldn’t answer. As we drove to Ogba Market, a large commercial square, Rice suggested some questions that the correspondents could ask. The point was to elicit as many ridiculous answers as possible, so that they had choices in the editing room. “We’re on a fishing expedition,” he said.
At Ogba Market, we stopped in front of a stall that advertised herbal medicine. The crew members hopped out to interview passersby, but they were repeatedly waved off. After a few minutes, a man in a trucker cap approached the crew. “You want to talk to someone?” he asked. He led us across the street, weaving through pedestrians, cars, minibuses, trucks, motorbikes, and yellow keketricycles, to a crowd of men gathered around a wooden table under an umbrella. Every inch of the table was covered with newspapers, laid out in neat rows and weighed down with stones. The men swarmed the camera, and soon Bhadmus was happily interviewing them about public urination in Lagos.
Later, Bhadmus explained that the men were “free readers”; in a tradition dating back to military rule, free readers crowd around newsstands all over Lagos, reading the news and chatting about it. Today, there are free-readers clubs all over Lagos; there’s even a Free Readers Association, which fights for the right of people to hang out at newsstands. Bhadmus told me that when she was a student she had frequented the free-readers club near her house. She had been amazed by how many poor, semi-literate people she met who had informed and intelligent views on politics; other club members kept them abreast of the news. “It’s a really nice public space,” she said.
After Bhadmus interviewed dozens of readers, Rice determined that they had enough material. As we drove back to the station, I noticed caravans of cars, buses, and trucks with colorful banners moving through the streets. The local elections were days away, and supporters of the two main parties, the A.P.C. and the P.D.P., were travelling between campaign events. Despite spending a week with a political-satire show, this was the first I had heard of the elections. A few days later, I walked out to the gate of the Channels compound and found a crowd of about forty men shouting and waving. They were members of a faction of the A.P.C.; they claimed that their candidate had been violently shut out of a primary by another group. The candidate had been attacked with a machete while trying to force his way into a house where the vote was being held, and the men were trying to get the network to cover the dispute. The candidate stumbled out of the crowd, leaning on a supporter. His shirt was torn, and when he turned around I saw that his back was drenched in blood. Williams heard the commotion and came down to interview members of the crowd. When he returned, he excitedly showed Rice a video of the protesters. Rice thought that it was a great addition to the show. “We just need to find a funny setup,” he said, and paused to think. “I guess people didn’t like the ‘Game of Thrones’ finale.”
The morning of the shoot for the pilot episode, everything seemed to go wrong. The teleprompter operator couldn’t be found. One of the producers was stuck in traffic. Rice had eaten something that disagreed with him, and, because the bathrooms still weren’t working, whenever he needed to go he had to sprint down five flights of stairs, across the courtyard, and up another three flights in the main building. “I nearly threw up on the stairs!” he said, gasping and sweating, returning from another trip. The theme music was still being assembled. It was one of the few times I saw Case lose his cool. “I don’t buy this shit,” he said, upon learning that another producer was in the hospital with an undisclosed illness. “They are not competent. Call it what you want, but that’s it.” Adding to Case’s anxiety was the fact that two representatives from the Open Society Initiative of West Africa would be sitting in on the filming.
The rehearsal was rough. It took three takes to get through the first fifteen seconds of the show. The opening graphics kept freezing, and ill-timed applause cues from a producer threw off Bakassi. Case paced around the office, drumming his pen on his “Comedy for Change” notepad, absorbing bad news like body blows.
At two-thirty, the audience—seventeen Channels employees—filed into the studio and sat in plastic chairs about thirty feet from the purple-and-gray stage. There was no camera for crowd-reaction shots, so the plan was to shoot them laughing uproariously before the show and edit in the shots later. A burly bearded correspondent who goes by the stage name Dan D’Humorous was tasked with eliciting the laughs. “It’s a live show, so laugh as if you paid for it and you need to get your money’s worth,” he said. Someone shouted at him to tell a joke. He declined. “Just imagine something hilarious,” he said. D’Humorous began to let out big, fake belly laughs. “Ha! Ha! Ha!” He raised his arms like a conductor. The audience members started to laugh, too, and as the absurdity of what they were doing dawned on them the laughs became real.
Eventually, the producers showed up and the teleprompter operator was tracked down. A headset for Bakassi replaced the white iPhone earbuds that had glared in the test episode. The script worked, more or less. The episode covered the Ooni video, a major corruption case, and a recent debate over restructuring Nigeria’s federal system. There was a field piece by Williams and D’Humorous that dealt with the Minister of Science and Technology’s triumphant announcement that Nigeria would be manufacturing its own pencils. (“What’s next, erasers?”) There was an unfortunate joke comparing a corrupt minister to a woman who couldn’t keep her legs closed. The high point, most agreed, was Bakassi’s interview with Reuben Abati, a newspaper columnist and former spokesman for Goodluck Jonathan, in which they reflected on Nigerian youth’s anger at the state of the country, and in which Bakassi pulled from him a story about the evil spirits that he believed haunted the Presidential complex. Bakassi, wearing a suit with a bright-red handkerchief, seemed energized by the presence of a live studio audience. Perhaps most important, the Open Society representatives were pleased. “It was excellent,” one of them said. “I laughed until I had tears in my eyes.”
After the taping, the crew gathered for a postmortem. Case scolded someone for letting his phone go off during the recording. The applause sign needed to be wielded more carefully. “Everybody has areas where they can improve,” Case said. “I think, on the writing side, there were a lot of clips and—whoops.” The power went off. A few seconds later, the generator kicked in, and as the lights came back Case’s tone lifted. “It really is amazing, guys, the thing we just recorded, so why don’t you pat yourself on the backs,” he said. “It’s going to keep getting better. It’s going to be in a league of its own, and I can’t wait to read about you guys in the Emmys.” With that, the crew dispersed quickly. There was still a lot of work to do, and they had only seven days until the next episode.
Defying technology failures, skittish lawyers, and power outages, a new episode of “The Other News” aired every Thursday evening at seven-thirty for the next twelve weeks. Nwabudike became the head producer, and, episode by episode, the flow of the show and Bakassi’s delivery improved. The first big hit was a segment in which Dan D’Humorous reported from the “jungle” of Nigerian politics, the green screen behind him filled in with a C.G.I. rain forest. Unauthorized clips of the segment started popping up all over the Internet.
Yet there were issues. “The Other News” rarely displayed the kind of critical bite that some of the writers aspired to; shots were off; the show was accompanied by a distractingly fake laugh track. There was a minor controversy, after a well-known actress appeared on the show and said that women bore some responsibility for preventing domestic abuse by not provoking their husbands. The incident made Case cringe, but the outrage that it sparked online raised the show’s profile. Before the end of Season 1, Channels had secured enough sponsors to renew the show. Sustainability achieved. When I stopped by Case’s apartment recently, he said that the final episode had been the highest-rated show in its time slot, reaching 1.7 million viewers. P.M.I.’s contract had ended; the staff was on its own.
The third episode of Season 2 was about to air. We sat in his basement and watched it live on the Channels YouTube page. There was a long piece on a new bill to spend a billion dollars fighting Boko Haram; the bill had attracted criticism, because President Buhari had boasted in 2015 that the insurgent group was “technically defeated.” Case was impressed. “Man, this is going to go viral,” he said, at the end of a segment that made fun of the role that Buhari, a former general, had played in three military coups before being elected President. Afterward, he showed me a rough draft of some surveys indicating that the show was having a positive impact on its viewers’ political knowledge. But he seemed more excited by a different sign of success. He had heard a rumour that a rival TV station was creating its own political-satire show. “You know you’re onto something hot when people are copying it,” he said. ♦