Saturday, May 27, 2017

Late Night TV or Trump Is Good For (Funny) Business

Hi there! It’s another day of Donald Trump playing dress up as President. The idea of Trump as President is like a grizzly bear wearing clothing and accessories from the Ivanka Trump collection: 

It shouldn’t have happened.

It shouldn’t be happening.

What can we do to stop it happening?   

The concept of Li’l Donnie as President is like the plot of a Pirates of the Caribbean movie: it doesn’t makes sense.  

What is Trump in the White House good for? I’m tempted to say “Absolutely nothing! Huh! Say it again!” But he has been good for one thing.  

Trump in the White House has been good for business if you’re in the field of late night television comedy. 

Saturday Night Live wrapped up it’s season last week with a number of departures. Cast members Bobby Moynihan, Vanessa bayer & Shameer Zamata are moving on to other things. And we may have said good-bye to Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump.  

Poor Alec! When he was approached last summer to play Donald Trump on SNL, he thought, “Eh, why not? It’ll be good for a few laughs: Besides, it’ll be over after November 8th.” 

Then Li’l Donnie went and won the election, you li’l stinker, you! So SNL was not done with Trump and Alec Baldwin was still on the hook. And Trump as “President” provided a rich mine of new comedy even as the thought of it filled our minds with nightmares and our stomachs with revulsion. So Trump is in the White House and we’re so doomed. If we can’t stop the son of a bitch, we will sure as hell laugh at him. “Yes, Li’l Donnie, we’re NOT laughing with you. We are laughing AT you!” 

One of the funniest things spinning out of the Trump presidency was Donald’s choice for Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, an angry sputtering individual with no self-control. Yeah, lets put this guy in front of a bunch of pesky reporters with their pesky questions and their pesky habit of expecting honest answers that make sense. But it was a very unexpected stroke of luck or genius to cast Melissa McCarthy as Spicer. Melissa was like Super Spicey, ramming the press podium into reporters, blasting them with leaf blowers and fire extinguishers, using dolls to explain what Trump is doing. Fun stuff!

But Spicey may be on the way out. It seems the rumors keep circling that Sean Spicer’s days as Press Secretary are numbered. At the end of the Spicer sketch, Spicey tells Trump, “We had a good run, didn’t we?” When the summer is over and SNL returns in the fall, we may not have Spicey to kick around anymore. 

We will, God help us, likely still have Trump with us. You might rubbing your hands together with glee that this whole Russian mess will blow up and Li’l Donnie will get his fat, orange ass impeached. But the Republicans in Congress won’t do that and even if they did, these things take time. 

But Alec Baldwin? Dude, the guy has other things to do than sit in a make chair each Saturday to get slathered in orange Play-Doh and riff on whatever dumb ass thing Trump did that week. Darrell Hammond is still on the show as it’s announcer and he was a perfectly fine Trump before Baldwin came along. But to really piss Trump off, they should get Leslie Jones to do it. Li’l Donnie being made fun of on TV by a black woman? I think he might crack. 

But who knows. By this fall, the zeitgeist may have shifted and we no longer find “what shithead fuckery did Trump do this week” to no longer be that funny.

But the season just past, Trump was good for SNL’s business with the show enjoying it’s highest ratings in years. 

Also looking at ratings success in the Trump era is The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. Colbert really came into his own with his lacerating attacks on Trump’s competence and character and the significant lack thereof. Late night talk shows hosts doing jokes at the expense of whoever is the President is nothing new. Johnny Carson got his licks in on Lyndon Johnson to Bill Clinton. But it was humor based on their personal foibles and less about actual policy. Stephen Colbert is different. Colbert’s humor comes from the no-holds barred assessment that Trump is a horrible human being and should not be President. It seems to be working as Colbert is winning his time slot. 

Meanwhile at 12:30 and over at NBC, Late Night With Seth Meyers is producing some really great comedy based on Trump and his Republican enablers, particularly in a segment called "A Closer Look". This is a long form takedown of the news beyond the headlines. It's insightful and well researched journalism matched with Seth's biting wit. It's the kind of stuff that The Daily Show did so well when Jon Stewart was there. (Oh, Jon, we still miss you so.)  

So Donald Trump may be the worse thing to hit the American Presidency since Bill Clinton flicked cigar ash on the Oval Office rug. But at least we can laugh at Trump's imbecilic actions and those of his cohorts. 

God help us, we may ultimately die laughing. 

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