Fake News

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RPF Fandom
Name(s): Daily Show fandom, Fake News fandom
Scope/Focus: The Daily Show (TDS), The Colbert Report (TCR), and associated sources
Date(s): 2003 to ?
See also:
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Fake news fandom is the fandom for The Daily Show and its spinoff The Colbert Report. Before the Report premiered, it was known simply as Daily Show fandom. It encompasses both RPF and FPF elements. Fanworks may include the fictional characters of the Colbert Report universe, the real people who produce the Report, the real people who act as guests and "friends of the shows," and the cast of the Daily Show, whose characterizations may be informed by both their real-world backgrounds and interviews and their fictionalized adventures and interactions on-screen.

(Note that until the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the term "fake news" was commonly used as a synonym of news satire as the concept of hoax news websites was not well known in the U.S.)

Fandom History

The fandom first developed in the fiction community TDS_RPS, founded in 2003[1]. Closely associated is Pundit RPF. As of 2012, the most active communities in either fandom are those that accept fanworks from both, although communities with a specific focus on one or the other do exist.

Fake News has been a Yuletide fandom several times, most recently 2016.

Fandom migrated away from LiveJournal circa 2012, The Colbert Report ended in 2014, and Jon Stewart left The Daily Show in 2015, so fake news fandom has diminished considerably. However, a few fanworks were posted in the AO3 tag for Fake News as recently as 2018, and there is a tiny Late Night Host RPF fandom tag with some of the same characters.

Sources

Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert is by far the most popular pairing in both fake news and pundit fandom at large.[2] Its FPF/RPF counterpart that pairs the fictional "Stephen Colbert" with Stewart is the second most popular fake news pairing.[2]

The supporting cast of fake news fic is largely composed of Daily Show correspondents, past and present. John Oliver/Rob Riggle is a popular pairing featuring correspondents,[2] and Oliver is sometimes paired with host Stewart. Other pairings include former correspondent Steve Carell, now of The Office, with fellow Daily Show and Second City alum Stephen Colbert; the married Samantha Bee and Jason Jones; Rob Corddry and Ed Helms; Kristen Schaal and Olivia Munn; and John Oliver and Demetri Martin. [3]

Also notable are certain real-world friends of Stewart and Colbert, mainly Paul Dinello and Amy Sedaris: Colbert's fellow Second City alumni and frequent collaborators, shipped in every combination[3]. Projects the three have worked on together, such as Srangers With Candy and Wigfield, are popular with the fandom and common subjects for crossovers.

The Colbert Report contains a number of distinctly fictional characters. Some are played by real people of the same name, such as host "Stephen Colbert" (referred to using quotation marks to distinguish him from the actor) and interns Meg and Jay (played by Meg DeFrancesco and staff writer Jay Katsir); others are easier to distinguish, including Tad the building manager (Paul Dinello) and Bobby the stage manager (writer Eric Drysdale). Still others are never seen on-screen, such as "Stephen"'s financial advisor Gorlock and former love interest Charlene. The canon regarding all characters is somewhat flexible, and information is very limited for everyone except "Stephen", giving writers the freedom to flesh them out in a variety of ways. Popular pairings include Tad/Bobby, "Stephen"/Charlene, and Tad/"Stephen"[3].

Frequent Crossovers

Popular crossovers are properties that star the shows' major actors, including Strangers With Candy and Wigfield (joint creations of, and vehicles for, Colbert, Dinello, and Sedaris), movies such as The Faculty and Death to Smoochy (both featuring Stewart), and The Newsroom (starring Olivia Munn).

Common themes also lead to crossover interest. The Newsroom also provides a critique of broadcast journalism. Strangers With Candy features humor and characterization that are similar to The Colbert Report; Colbert has remarked on the similarities between his character there, Chuck Noblet, and "Stephen".

Canonical crossovers include Sesame Street (see Cookie Monster's appearance on the Report) and The Muppets (famously, Daily Show interviews with Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog). Two correspondents, Carell and Ed Helms, have gone on to have major roles in the American version of The Office, and the relative fictionality of this has been played with; in a brief return, Helms refers to being on 'an undercover mission in Scranton', where his character works.

The shows have been shown to exist within other fictional universes. A clip of Stewart appears in Evan Almighty (starring Steve Carell) to poke fun at the titular character, and a character in the pilot of Gary Trudeau's Alpha House is shown being interviewed by Colbert.

Other RPF personalities that are found in fake news fanfiction often come from Political RPF, such as Rahm Emanuel, or are people who appeared as guests on one of the programs.

Fake News and The Fourth Wall

Fake news fandom has a relatively weak fourth wall separating it from its subjects. Daily Show fanfiction was discussed on a popular blog in 2005, and both The Daily Show and The Colbert Report have made various references to fan fiction and slash in particular. Comedy Central's official Colbert Report site includes a Fan Fiction, Art & Games section on its forum.

Fan reaction to the crumbling fourth wall is mixed. Some fans have engaged with the pundits on the topic of fan fiction,[4] while others opt to keep their fan works locked in hopes of going unnoticed by bloggers or pundits.

Outing by Wonkette

In February 2005, the political gossip blog Wonkette outed then-Daily Show fandom by quoting and linking to stories posted on the LiveJournal community TDS RPS.[5] The quoted story was a Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert piece by zenified entitled Boy Interrupted, and the linked stories were dream_aloud's Stephen Colbert/Paul Dinello/Jon Stewart story Live Feed and earenwe's Jon Stewart/Anderson Cooper story New Years Greetings.[6]

Later that year, Colbert cited Boy Interrupted when asked if he had ever read fan fiction about himself.[4]

Official References to RPF

Stephen Colbert referenced fan fiction while promoting an interview with Anderson Cooper, saying, "Also guaranteeing the success of CNN's report, Anderson Cooper himself will be on my show this Thursday. So gentlemen, start your fan fiction now."[7]

During an appearance on The Daily Show, Brian Williams said to Jon Stewart, "This was the night it was going to go well between us. There's a whole online community set up like 'Do they get along?'"[8] Williams is a frequent Daily Show guest, and the playful nature of his appearances has led to Jon Stewart/Brian Williams fan fiction, although the pairing is somewhat rare.

Community executive producer Dan Harmon reports that TDS correspondent "John Oliver told me he heard there is Daily Show slash fiction, and that he is ALWAYS the one 'catching.'"[9]

Colbert, Stewart, and Stewart's correspondents are not the only people at Comedy Central who are aware of pundit fandom. Comedy Central Insider, part of the official Comedy Central site, has linked to Daily Show and Colbert Report slash[10] and also posted images of fans who cosplay Colbert and Stewart.[11] Additionally, the official Colbert Nation site featured an interview with a fan artist upon its redesign in early 2010.[12]

Fanwork Resources

  • Fake News Fanfiction
    • Founded to accept fanworks about "The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and everything related thereto," including pundits, politicians, and associated fictional series It hosts flocked discussion posts Mondays through Saturdays and employs a tag system that makes its archive easily browsable by author, rating, pairing, character, crossover, or series.
  • The Daily Show w/ Jon Stewart RPS
    • TDS RPS describes itself as "the first and only LiveJournal community dedicated to slash fanworks about the popular fake news program entitled The Daily Show with Jon Stewart;"[13] however, it features many stories that crossover with other fake and real news programs. It has both memories and tags, but neither are frequently used.
  • Punditfic
    • Punditfic is a Dreamwidth-based community for "fic; fanart; picspams; news items; mixes; vids; essays/discussions; pretty much anything else" that focuses on "The Daily Show; The Colbert Report; various newspeople, pundits, anchors, and comedians; politicians; crossovers of any of the above with whatever else you feel like."[14] Its tagging system is browsable by fanwork type, author, pairing, crossover, rating, and character.
  • And That's The Word
    • And That's The Word is a Dreamwidth community for fanworks featuring the fictional Colbert Report characters. Its tagging system is browsable by fanwork type, author, pairing, crossover, and rating.
  • Moments of Zen
    • Moments of Zen is a deviantART group for fake news fanart and other fanworks, also accepting related pundits, politicians, comedians, and crossovers. It holds periodic contests on various themes, with prizes including featured work and custom drawings.

References

  1. TDS_RPS Community Profile. (Accessed 21 April 2012.)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 sarken. Pie (charts)!, published on 22 January 2010. (Accessed 30 August 2010.)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 fakenews_fanfic Tags. (Accessed 21 April 2012.)
  4. 4.0 4.1 apis_cerana. Untitled (requires membership), published on 25 October 2005 at TDS RPS. (Accessed 31 August 2010.)
  5. Haber. "Back To You, Jon": 'Daily Show' Gay FanFic, published on 17 February 2005 at Gawker. (Accessed 30 August 2010.)
  6. Sicha, Choire. Daily Show Slash Fiction, published on 17 February 2005 at Wonkette. (Accessed 30 August 2010 via Wayback Machine.)
  7. Kinaesthesia. Episode 3132 (10/16/2007), published on 17 October 2007 at No Fact Zone. (Accessed 30 August 2010.)
  8. Brian Williams, published on 2 February 2010 at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Official Website. (Accessed 30 August 2010.)
  9. @danharmon. Twitter status published on 16 August 2010. (Accessed 31 August 2010.)
  10. Kittenpants. Read This and the Nerd Cells in Your Body Will Rise Up and Defeat You, published on 19 January 2007 at Comedy Central Insider. (Accessed 31 August 2010.)
  11. Matt Tobey. I Believe the Children Grown Adult Women Dressed as Stewart and Colbert are Our Future, published on 10 August 2010 at Comedy Central Insider. (Accessed 31 August 2010.)
  12. DB. The Colbert Nation "Home" page relaunch, published on 6 April 2010 at No Fact Zone. (Accessed 31 August 2010.)
  13. tds_rps Community Profile. (Accessed 2 November 2010.)
  14. punditfic Community Profile. (Accessed 2 November 2010.)