Fox's answer to "The Daily Show"

A right-wing Jon Stewart, fake commercials . . . but a very suspicious "live" audience.

Published February 14, 2007 9:10PM (EST)

"The 1/2 Hour News Hour" will apparently be Fox News Channel's long-awaited attempt to ape the success of "The Daily Show." But did they hire monkeys to write it?

Joel Surnow, "24" producer and Rush Limbaugh pal, is producing the show, which stars Kurt Long and Jenn Robertson and will go for a test spin the next two Sundays at 10 p.m. It's essentially a righty version of SNL's "Weekend Update." But there seem to be some obvious problems with that. First, "Weekend Update's" targets don't ever seem terribly agenda-driven: When they work (and admittedly, that's not that often ) it's because of the universality of the joke. "Weekend Update's" mildly amusing Barack Obama sketch worked because it snatched a controversy (one shaken by Salon's own Debra Dickerson) and poked at it in a hilarious way (much the way that Stephen Colbert had). Played out to its ludicrous extreme, all sides can get a yuk out of it, without any one side feeling assaulted. Success! But making fun of Obama for using drugs -- when he's admitted in a book and on "60 Minutes" to using coke as a kid -- is so cringingly ideological, you can practically hear Karl Rove slapping his knee in the background.

Speaking of which, are they actually going to use a live studio audience, or stick with these canned hams? Because there's nothing like a fraudience to make your whole knock-off show, which happens to spoof another show, really seem like ... well, you know. A fraud.

By Kerry Lauerman

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