Blomquist helps write
bestseller 'America'

 

School of Communications alum Rich Blomquist has been on a roll since joining Comedy Central's hottest program in 2003. He was a co-winner of a 2003 Emmy Award along with the rest of the crazy crew of comedy writers on Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show," and he and the same group have capitalized on their fame in producing "America: A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction," a book that has topped the bestseller lists since its release in late 2004.

The history textbook parody made a number of reviewers' top-ten book lists for the year. One such list was Entertainment Weekly's annual assessment of the best in the industry; "America" came in as EW's number-five book for 2004, ranking behind only "Chronicles: Volume One," by Bob Dylan; "Truth & Beauty," by Ann Patchett; "Blood Done Sign My Name," by Timothy B. Tyson; and "Alexander Hamilton," by Ron Chernow.

"America's" EW top-ten rating was accompanied by this write-up: "Stewart and his 'Daily Show' crew could have gotten away with flimsy, topical propaganda and still sold a million copies. Instead, they shot for genius - an equal-opportunity tough-love satire of this nation's foibled history in its entirety - and hit the bull's-eye. 'America,' from its faux-textbook format to its pastel infographics, offers jagged and timeless comic anarchy with a commonsense soul."

The satire - which includes jokey essays and doctored photos of Supreme Court justices with no clothing - was named "the hottest book" of the 2004 holiday season by USA Today, selling more copies than any other title in the four weeks before Christmas. Barnes & Noble vice president Daniel Blackman said, "Hands down, it was the gift book of the year." Warner Books has not disclosed sales, but revealed that "America" went into its 15th printing in the first week of January 2005, raising the number of copies in print to 1.9 million. It was named Publishers Weekly's Most Notable Book of 2004. The $24.95 hardcover will be followed by a revised paperback edition at a future date. Stewart has joked that the sequel will be "South America."

The credits page of the book lists "Daily Show" host Stewart, Ben Karlin and David Javerbaum as writers/editors of the book, and below that it credits a group of 11 additional writers, including Blomquist, plus five other people, who are credited with "additional material."

"I'm not sure how the idea for the book came about; I assume it was Jon's," Blomquist said. "Jon and his co-editors, David Javerbaum and Ben Karlin - head writer and executive producer of the show, respectively - wrote most of the actual chapter essays. Along with the other Daily Show writers, my biggest contributions were to the book's sidebars, visual elements, and end-of-chapter activities.

"It was fun to write in a voice and come up with jokes that were slightly different from what we do on the show. It was a nice change of pace... even though we were still working on the show. Because of that, we worked on the book primarily in the evening and on weekends."

Blomquist graduated from Elon in 2000. He had interned in New York on a Comedy Central series while at Elon, and he spent the next several years persevering and struggling from job to job in Manhattan, taking on a variety of behind-the-scenes assignments in his effort to break through. He earned a spot on the staff of "The Daily Show" in January 2003.

The program's 2003 Emmy as the best variety, music or comedy series was followed by a 2004 Television Critics Association Award for "outstanding achievement in news and information," beating out the traditional news programs that are generally the only competitors in that category.

 

 

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