SXSW 2019: Desi Lydic talks The Daily Show

Correspondent Desi Lydic; “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Presents The 2016 Republican National Convention: Submission Accomplished;” The Breen Center for the Performing Arts; Cleveland, OH, July 19, 2016. Photo Credit: Comedy Central

Desi Lydic spoke with Solzy at the Movies during a press preview for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Presents: The Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library.

Desi Lydic
Desi Lydic. Photo credit: Art Streiber.

Interestingly enough, Desi Lydic and I both share the same hometown of Louisville, Ky.  As such, I naturally introduced myself to the comedian during SXSW with the name of the high school that I attended.  We may have gone to rival high schools but it’s okay since we both made our way into comedy.

You’ve got the Comedy Central special coming out in May.

Desi Lydic:  I have a Comedy Central special coming out.  It’s a comedy documentary.  It’s more of an hour extended long field piece like what we do on The Daily Show.  It’s a little different than stand-up.  As it turns out, things are not amazing for women right now in America.  There are some challenges ahead of us.  The World Economic Forum puts out a gender gap report every year and America was ranked 49th.  If #1 is best, America is 49th.  Here, America is supposed to be the greatest country in the world.  It’s abundantly clear that we’re not the greatest country in the world for women.

I feel like when women speak out about this—whether it be through marching or making our voices heard through social media, there’s this pushback in this country where people say, “What are you talking about?  Women have all the rights they could possibly want.  If you hate it so much, why don’t you go to another country where they really hate women.”  It’s like, No, we should be holding ourselves to the very highest standard.  Let’s look at the countries that are doing right by women.  Let’s go to #1 on the list or #5 or #13 and let’s find out what their doing so we can figure out a way of copying off of their homework and stealing all of those ideas as our own because that’s what America is all about.  So we did that.  We went to Iceland, Namibia, and Spain.  I talked to incredibly inspiring people about what they’re doing to progress forward and to change the conversation both culturally and through policies.  I convinced Comedy Central to send me out on an international work vacation, which was kind of nice.

How did the opportunity with The Daily Show come about?

Desi Lydic:  I was a huge fan of The Daily Show for many years.  I watched the Jon Stewart era for a really long time and loved it.  It felt so cathartic and was often my kind of education on what was happening in the world politically in a way that felt digestible to me at the time.  I was so inspired by type of comedy that they did.  I loved that brand of satire.  It was always a dream of mine so when I got that chance to audition, I put a tape together and sent the tape away.  It was a couple months and I didn’t hear anything.  Finally, I got the call to come—they had just hired Trevor Noah.  I came to New York to meet Trevor and a that point, I was four months pregnant and had to tell them, “I would love this job and my family would pick up to move here in a hot second but you should know I’m pregnant.”  They went, “Great!  Perfect!  We’ll use it or won’t use it.  Whatever you want.”  I went, alright, that’s the place I want to be.

What was your comedy background going into that?

Desi Lydic:  I did a lot of improv.  I was never a stand-up person.  I admire it hugely.  I work with all stand-ups and I’m so in awe of what they do.  I was always an improv person and always gravitated towards comedy for sure.  That was the area of comedy that felt right to me.  I like being part of a team and like the collaborative effort of it.  It works out really well.  I was able to kind of use some of that out in the field, which is my favorite part of the show for me.  The Daily Show itself behind the scenes creatively is such a collaborative place.  Going in having that mentality of being collaborative—that’s the way that they work there.  It’s the most inspiring place to be.

Is there a meaningful instructor on your career?

Desi Lydic:  I had so many great teachers.  Steve Little was a teacher that I had at The Groundlings.  He’s also an incredible actor and he was phenomenal.  Julie Welch.  Eric Honeycutt.  There were incredible—and then I meant some of my best friends being on improv teams together.  It ended up being a very cool community

What’s your favorite part about Louisville?

Desi Lydic:  Moving away!  No, I’m just kidding!  Just kidding, Louisville!  The bourbon.  Definitely the bourbon!

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Presents Desi Lydic: Abroad will air Monday, May 13 at 11:00 p.m. ET/PT on Comedy Central.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.