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PopPolitics: How ‘Embeds’ Found ‘Comedy Gold’ on the Campaign Trail — and Avoided Donald Trump (Listen)

Variety logo Variety 1/30/2017 Ted Johnson
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Embeds” is a new comedy series from Complex Networks on the streaming network Go90 that focuses on five twenty-something embedded reporters thrown together on the campaign trail in Iowa, but its most humorous moments come from the absurd situations that do not have to do with Donald Trump.

That is by design.

On the latest “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM’s POTUS Channel, “Embeds” executive producer and co-creator Scott Conroy talks about the challenges of making comedy out of what is an endurance test for most of those on the trail. They have to balance the intense pressure for scoops with the grind of following a candidate through Iowa, to truck stops, and small-town diners.

“I know that this election was particularly insane — I think everyone is aware of that — but I didn’t want to parody Donald Trump,” Conroy says. “In a sense I always went into this thinking, ‘How do you parody a parody?’ To me the more interesting approach was to take a candidate who was kind of a … milquetoast candidate and to follow along his journey in Iowa. Some of these small events that I would go to — not the big massive rallies that Trump would have. Because there is not much comedy there. All of the most ridiculous situations that I remember as a reporter happened when very few people were watching. That is when you get the most surprises and the most pure comedy gold I would say out of the presidential campaign.”

Conroy was an embed in the 2008 campaign for CBS News, and he and Peter Hamby, an embed for CNN who is now at Snapchat, wrote the original script. Megyn Kelly and Michael De Luca also are executive producers. The series shot in Iowa last fall.

Listen below:

Conroy compared the experience to summer camp: friendships, hookups, even lasting couplings. But he says that there was dramatic license used in some of the wilder situations, like the opening scene in which an embed wakes up after having a threesome, including with the presidential candidate’s daughter. Conroy says that the experience of being embedded with the campaign is still the hardest job he’s had.

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“PopPolitics,” hosted by Variety’s Ted Johnson, airs on Thursdays from 2-3 pm ET/11-noon PT on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS. It also is available on demand. 

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