The Fake News with Ted Nelms, starring and executive produced by Ed Helms, is a ridiculous, made-up news show that resembles actual news, but is instead a constant stream of jokes delivered with such an extreme deadpan that it will be hard not to laugh at the absurdity of it all. The hour-long Comedy Central satirical news special directed at the current political climate marks Helms’ return to the network, nearly a decade after his run on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart ended.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actor Ed Helms talked about how this special was one of the most fun things he’s ever worked on, how he ended up back at Comedy Central, what he learned from his time on The Daily Show, why he wants to reclaim “fake news” for what it really is, why he made the decision to play a character on the special, and how he gauges the comedy and whether it’s working. He also talked about his experience making Father Figures and why it’s a dream come true project, as well as what his time on the hit TV series The Office means to him.
Collider: I’ve seen some clips from the special and this seems like it must have been so much fun to do!
ED HELMS: This was one of the most fun things that I’ve ever worked on, for sure!
How did this special come about? Did Comedy Central come to you about doing something with them, or was this something you had the idea for and then had to find a home for it?
HELMS: It was the latter. I was looking for something to scratch my political itch, and this idea came up awhile ago. I started bouncing it around with my producing partner and my agents, and then it just gelled. Suddenly, The Fake News with Ted Helms just pulled it all together. The next question was, “Where do we take it?,” and it was a no-brainer for me. Comedy Central has been such a great partner. It’s where I got my start. I love what they do and thought it would be a great home. Fortunately, they agreed.
How does it feel to return, after all the work you’ve done, in the time since you last worked with them?
HELMS: I don’t know. I don’t feel like a totally different person. If anything, it’s just a really fun reconnection to a really exciting time in my life. Working on The Daily Show was just one of the most thrilling and eye-opening first jobs that anyone could ever hope for. It taught me so much about everything, including how I conduct myself, in everything that I’ve done since. Jon Stewart was always such a hard worker and he was a real task-masker as a boss, but in a great way. It taught me how to search for the best joke possible and not to settle for anything less. So, it’s a reconnection to a really wonderful time. It’s a little bit nostalgic for me, actually.