Comedy Central’s ‘Daily Show’ Crafts a Satirical Art Exhibition for ‘Heroes of the Freedomsurrection’

Comedy Central_VIacom_The Daily Show Monuments 2022_Trump Monument Closeup

One of the eight tongue-in-cheek monuments was dedicated to former president Donald Trump.

Political satire is a tricky game to play, particularly when you’re transporting comedic commentary into the physical realm. But it’s in the nature of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” to strike when the right cultural moment presents itself. Enter: Heroes of the Freedomsurrection, an outdoor public art installation that ironically paid tribute to the “patriots” who stormed the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6, 2021 in an attempt to overthrow the presidential election. The network’s one-day stunt was executed exactly one year after the infamous event.

Overnight in New York City’s Madison Square Park, Comedy Central installed eight meticulously-crafted monuments dedicated to individuals with close ties to the insurrection, teasing the stunt on “The Daily Show’s” Twitter account with a distant photo and a cryptic caption. After allowing social chatter to build and the reach of the campaign to expand, the network tweeted again on the morning of Jan. 6, explicitly inviting New Yorkers to visit the COVID-friendly exhibition.

The collection of monuments, inspired by ongoing arguments over the tearing down of Confederate statues, were quickly discovered and shared by the media, fans and parkgoers. For those passing by, the installation, which was meant to be stumbled upon, featured a welcome sign of sorts that read, “Heroes of the Freedomsurrection honors eight of the patriots who tried to overthrow their country on January 6, 2021—and failed miserably. Please don’t tear down these monuments, because history,” followed by the show’s name and #DailyShowMonument.

fx-soundfx-press-nyc-v01-06-2021_teaserMore Outdoor Activation Strategies:

Each monument featured an imprint of the “hero’s” face and a quote of theirs associated with either the insurrection or overturning the 2020 election. Underneath was a satirical overview of the role they played in the Jan. 6 event, followed by a replica logo of the Capitol Building with horns added onto it (a comedic nod to the insurrection’s “shaman”).

For “The Daily Show,” this kind of experiential marketing always maps back to a news cycle item that piques the public’s interest, similar to how the show develops its content. In other words, when big cultural news breaks, there are a lot of quick decisions to make.

“Timing is so important,” says Ramin Hedayati, supervising producer and head of digital at “The Daily Show.” “Having a moment like Jan. 6 was such a flashpoint, so we tied it to something that would motivate people to want to come out. And to feel like we’re connecting a joke with a moment, I think, really compels people to want to be a part of it.”

The installation organically attracted the attention of a few influencers, including a photographer known for having captured vivid images of the Capitol Police holding the line during the insurrection, as well as Jerry Saltz, a Pulitzer Prize winner and senior art critic for New York magazine, who posted about the monuments on social media, alerting the broader art world to the exhibit and opening up an unexpected audience for Comedy Central.

This wasn’t the first time in recent history that the “The Daily Show” made headlines and ruffled feathers with a satirical live experience. In 2017, the Comedy Central show opened a pop-up Trump Presidential Twitter Library in New York City, which was later turned into a U.S. tour. The library then got updated in 2019 to include new touchpoints and opened in Washington, D.C., on the former president’s birthday.

Now, with two big programs under their belt, the network and show are looking forward to stretching their experiential wings.

“Now that we’ve figured out how to bring our voice to a live experience, I think we’ll keep looking for those opportunities to get it out there,” says Jen Flanz, the show’s executive producer and showrunner. “They’re really fun to do and for those of us that have been at ‘The Daily Show’ for a very long time, this is like a new muscle to flex.” Agencies: THA Experiential (production, creative); The Factory NYC, and Impact Signs of Chicago (monument fabrication).

Comedy Central_Daily Show 2022 heroes of the freedomsurrection monuments

Heroes of the Freedomsurrection was created to connect ‘The Daily Show’s’ comedic commentary to a physical touchpoint.

Kait Shea
Posted by Kait Shea

Kait joined EM in 2015 and today enjoys her role as senior editor, digital content. When she’s not in reporter mode, rocking mermaid pants at Comic-Con or running laps at MWC Barcelona, you can find her at home listening to music.
View all articles by Kait Shea →

Receive the latest news and special announcements from Event Marketer


© 2024 Access Intelligence, LLC – All Rights Reserved. |