The Daily Show brought the biggest-ever iteration of its Donald J Trump Presidential Twitter Library to SXSW this week. The ongoing success of the satirical exhibition and its offshoots have led Comedy Central to grow the team behind it, in order to expand the show into a multiplatform brand.
The Daily Show Presents the Donald J Trump Presidential Twitter Library is in situ at the Driskill Hotel in Austin until today (11 March).
The exhibition is a masterpiece in mockery, literally: the exhibition presents a selection of the president’s tweets as works of art, mounted in gold frames and accompanied by curator’s notes (the famous ‘Covfefe’ tweet, for instance, “compels viewers to a greater level of engagement, demanding that they fill the post-fragment negative space”).
The experience also comprises interactive elements, such as a ‘Trump nickname generator’ and a crisis reaction game complete with a golden toilet for a chair.
The exhibit has updated and expanded since it was first produced for New York City in June 2017 in order to keep pace with the commander in chief’s published stream of consciousness. The Texan iteration now fills an entire hotel floor, but it originally began life as a Twitter poll.
“A couple of years ago, right after Trump took office, we were combing through all of his tweets to [stage] a bracket tournament and crown the greatest Trump tweet of all time,” said Ramin Hedayati, supervising producer on The Daily Show. “We were looking for his 64 best tweets for people to vote on, but in doing so we found like all these other amazing tweets.”
The curation process began from there, and exhibits such as Trump vs Trump (his contradictory opinions) and Deleted But Not Forgotten (tweets scrubbed from his timeline) began to take shape. The library’s popularity meant it was reproduced virtually as a 3D online tour, while a book inspired by the exhibition was published last year.
Somewhat paradoxically, the physical experience was developed by The Daily Show’s digital expansion team, which is headed up by Hedayati. It falls under his remit to expand the TV program’s reach beyond its 30-minute slot and give fans outside of New York the chance to become audience members of the show.
The exhibition is developed in-house, with the show’s producers, writers and correspondents all contributing ideas and copy. It gives the team “a chance to like write a little differently, in a different voice” from frontman Trevor Noah’s piece-to-camera quips, according to Hedayati, a strategy it’s implemented throughout its social and online platforms too.
In fact, the digital content that spirals from the daily broadcast has now become a standalone entity – one that Noah himself is driving forward.
“Trevor sees us as creators of a show online,” said Hedayati. “He's always coming to us with ideas and we’re going to him with ideas. It's a very symbiotic relationship. Obviously, the voices weave together, but there are just certain kinds of jokes and certain kinds of things that you can do online that you really can't do on the show.”
With Noah pushing the dual production strategy forward, Comedy Central has given Hedayati the green light to expand his team and its remit. He’s just hired two new producers and is on course to create original podcasts, webcasts and other digital assets, such as an interactive tour of Trump’s New York City.
The success of the team has meant Comedy Central is now evolving its brand marketing strategy across the portfolio, encouraging other properties to multiplatform their content and reach audiences outside of the TV.
“At Comedy Central, we love rewarding the fans with opportunities to get up close and personal with our brands,” said Shawn Silverman, senior vice-president for brand marketing, at Comedy Central.
“From recreating the town of South Park at Comic Con in years past to touring The Daily Show Library across the country, we’re always looking for new and innovative ways to let fans step into the worlds of their favorite shows.”