TV & Film

Day-Tripping with Jon Stewart

To gather information for "Irresistible," the comedian traveled Wisconsin with a UW–Madison professor.

John Stewart on the set of The Daily Show

Stewart consulted with Katherine Cramer for his tale of a political clash in small-town Wisconsin. Getty Images

Three years ago, comedian Jon Stewart was planning to write and direct a movie about the clash between Democrats and Republicans in small-town Wisconsin. How could the New York City native bone up on political culture in a Midwestern battleground state?

Step one was to read The Politics of Resentment, in which UW–Madison political science professor Katherine Cramer ’94 shares her conversations with rural Wisconsin residents about their mistrust of the liberal establishment. Step two was to ask Cramer herself for a tour of the state.

In December 2017, Cramer drove around Wisconsin for 10 hours with Stewart and his assistant, introducing them to people she interviewed for the book. Stewart made use of what he learned to create Irresistible, a comedy scheduled for release this year. In an attempt to win back the heartland, a Democratic strategist (Steve Carell) gets involved in the mayoral campaign of a retired Marine colonel (Chris Cooper) who stands up for undocumented workers in his conservative Wisconsin town.

Stewart’s tale of the Badger State was filmed on location in … Georgia. Still, thanks to Cramer, the movie is steeped in Wisconsin research.

Published in the Summer 2020 issue


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