During both the Democratic and Republican conventions, Daily Show correspondents frequently found themselves in trouble with the powers that be. Hearsay has it that in Denver, after Jason Jones pretended to pee on a campfire (he used a water gun) that happened to be near a local Fox News station’s van, he was accused of peeing on their equipment. “I heard they were trying to hunt us down and take our credentials away,” John Oliver told us. “They made us sound like Spinal Tap!” So imagine being an upstart correspondent for the fledgling Huffington Post–related comedy site, 23/6. Their RNC credentials wouldn’t even get them inside the Xcel Center; these they traded for some passes that didn’t allow for the shooting of video. But in the maverick spirit of John McCain, they ignored such technicalities. That is, until their on-air personality, New York comedian Eugene Mirman, had a little incident with some chicken.
As part of a gag where Mirman would play a reporter embedded with protesters, the crew went to an Army-Navy supply store and picked up an orange hunter’s vest, goggles, a crash helmet — and a packet that heats up a delicious meal of herb-lemon chicken when you pull a string. When they couldn’t find a “serious” protest, they headed back to the Xcel Center and decided, so the day wouldn’t seem like a total wash, to film Mirman sitting at a table in the convention hall, eating his self-heating chicken. Mirman pulled the string. “It’s heating for about ten minutes. We’re sitting at a table. Nobody’s around. It doesn’t seem like a big deal,” Mirman told us. “Then all of a sudden, smoke starts coming out of it.” This was just minutes before Sarah Palin was set to take the stage. Cameraman Ari Boles said he looked up seconds later and they were surrounded by twelve men wearing suits and earpieces, some of whom identified themselves as Secret Service. “They’re like, ‘Why is your pocket on fire?’” says Mirman. “And I’m like, ‘It’s not on fire. I just have an herb-lemon chicken!’”
After bringing Mirman and Boles to a makeshift situation room, the Secret Service determined them “not dangerous” and left. The RNC credentials overlord persisted — “He said, ‘I have to figure out whether my trust has been betrayed,’” says Mirman — and revoked their borrowed passes. But Mirman says the overlord turned out to be “really nice and sweet.” He even let Boles get a free drink from the lounge, then walked them out and said goodbye. “I hope his life turns out well,” says Mirman. His only regret? The Secret Service confiscated the chicken.