Donald Trump has killed comedy. Or, rather, Trump Derangement Syndrome has killed comedy. If you can sit through a Stephen Colbert monologue or stand to watch “Saturday Night Live,” your reaction is more likely to be a cringe than a chuckle.
This has nothing to do with whether you are a Trump fan or not. Late-night monologues and comics in general have always made fun of presidents, especially Republican presidents. Jay Leno and David Letterman were genuinely funny. Jon Stewart, former host of “The Daily Show,” did a masterful job of laying waste to pretensions and political cant. Stewart had a genuine sense of fair play. He didn’t take cheap shots. And when he hit the target, it was all the more effective.
Colbert, on “The Late Show,” and Alec Baldwin, on “Saturday Night Live,” are satisfied to just do really stupid squeaky voices that elicit applause from their fans. It’s not funny and it’s a half-assed impersonation. (Rich Little, where are you?) What we have now are just politically correct attacks that please half the country. Sloppy, half-baked attacks that depend on the audience to be Trump-haters who will cheer and clap. Who could imagine that a broadcast television network could set itself up to offend half the country? Perhaps CBS thinks only liberal Trump-haters are up at 11:30 p.m.
Colbert doesn’t only attack Trump, he also promotes Democrats. Look at his guest list this year: Cynthia Nixon, Kamala Harris, Michael Avenatti, Michael Moore, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rob Reiner, Cory Booker, Beto O’Rourke, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Amy Klobuchar, Michelle Obama, Bernie Sanders and Julian Castro. They are all Democrats. They all hate Trump. Some were running for election and getting free national airtime. Some of them are running for president.
Not that Colbert didn’t have a Republican on. There was Sen. Jeff Flake, who is retiring and is a frequent Trump critic.
The comics who dine out on Trump are having it easy. One wonders what will happen when Trump is gone? Will they have forgotten how to do funny?
But Trump is president, thus it is only natural that he get criticized. Yes. Barack Obama was president for eight years. Any personal attack jokes? Any lame impressions? Any attacks on Michelle Obama like the personal savaging of Melania Trump? When was the last time you heard a monologue on television that didn’t mention Trump? Trevor Noah, host of “The Daily Show,” gets it. He occasionally does a “Trump Free” show featuring humor that is about things other than Trump.
The Trump-haters are just solidifying Trump support among his voters. Some entertainers will never get back lost audience. ESPN, after its foray into liberal commentary, is losing millions of subscribers who think a sports channel should focus on sports and shut up about politics.
I’m reduced to watching George Carlin, Richard Pryor and Mort Sahl – comic geniuses that worked hard to make you think – on YouTube.
Because what passes for satire these days commits a cardinal sin: It’s just not funny.
Familiar Name: The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating contributions and the disposition of contributions to the Trump inaugural committee. The story also noted that Franklin Haney had been asked to supply documents related to the $1 million contribution he made to Trump’s inaugural. Haney hired Trump attorney Michael Cohen to help him get a $5 billion loan from the Department of Energy for a nuclear plant deal. Haney has been trying to buy the unfinished Bellefonte nuclear plant from TVA for $111 million. TVA finally scrapped the deal Dec. 1, saying time had run out for Haney to close on the facility. Haney has been a longtime developer of properties in Tennessee and Washington, D.C., as well as a major donor to various officeholders.
Mika Says Sorry: Mika Brzezinski, co-host of “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, got in trouble for saying Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is not a patriot but rather sounds like a “butt boy” to a Saudi dictator. After the outcry, Brzezinski said that she was sorry and that she apologized to reporters, the LGBTQ community, the public and we presume “butt boys.” But no apology to the Secretary of State. If she were a conservative, it would have cost her her job. But since she is a liberal Democrat she gets a pass.
Merry Christmas: I share your frustration with Congress, Washington and the federal bureaucracy. You may be cheering a government shutdown, which, at this writing, may happen Wednesday unless cooler heads prevail. But let’s stop for a minute and think about the worker bees that go to work every day and live paycheck to paycheck, just like we do. And Christmas is next week. Merry Christmas, ya’ll.