Shooting The Messenger
Daily Show creator Lizz Winstead sends up morning
shows in weekly live production.
in character as "Hope Jean Paul."
As she did
creating and appearing in the early years of The Daily Show, Lizz
Winstead is creating a show that sends up facets of television news with
an undercurrent of personality-based comedy underneath, in her live
theatrical morning show parody, “Wake Up World With Hope and Davis,”
part of her regular Monday night show called “Shoot The Messenger” now
at The Theatres at 45 Bleecker Street.
Playing “Hope Jean Paul,” a brassy co-host, Winstead exaggerates all the
worst aspects of light morning newscast show patter. Along with her
role, castmates offer both a satire of CNN Headline News (as delivered
by Darbi Worley as Emily Rackcheck) and backstage machinations over
sponsorship of the show (as played out by Barry Lank as the network’s
In fact, some of the best moments of “Wake Up World” came through the
offstage activity -- with an executive complaining to Lank that “The
View” was doing far better at promoting incontinence products because it
had dancers in costume as those products -- not to mention that
incontinence could be a good thing for television because it would keep
viewers on their couches, not venturing out. Also, Worley’s character
got in a lot of the quickest clever quips.
“Wake Up World” serves as the longer first half of “Shoot The
Messenger,” and it’s the product of a large group of writers and
performers who play guests, correspondents and even staff of the
fictional morning show, so it may tend to sprawl a bit and could use
some tightening. Still, “Wake Up World” could easily be translated to
cable television, ideally on Comedy Central, if it isn’t already on its
way to a network. Winstead is already developing some material for the
BBC, Fuse and Lifetime.
The second half of “Shoot The Messenger” allows Winstead to step out of
character and interview a real guest simply as herself, and the show
gets well-known personalities, featuring Ed Begley Jr. in its February
18 edition. For those who are really into comedy, Winstead could perhaps
have asked Begley more about his role as a follicle-challenged rival to
the family on “Arrested Development,” but had to focus on his current
work, a book about his environmentally friendly lifestyle. For a
downtown New York audience, this is very much like preaching to the
converted, but that’s more a function of the guest than the host.
Still, “Shoot The Messenger” and its “Wake Up World” spinoff do provide
a great deal of entertainment, running well over two hours and making
that feel like much less than that most of the time.