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Trump Is Bad for Comedy

The BriefGet Up To Speed

From the opening skit on “Saturday Night Live” to “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” to the pages of The Onion, President Trump has become the face of comedy. Some comedians and writers argue that in the Trump era, satire has become more challenging and jokes have become cheap.  Trump, according to his critics, has normalized the absurd and the nature of political satire in a post-truth world. But others disagree; they argue that the president serves up comedy-gold every day, making their jobs – and the laughs they seek to elicit – easier than ever before. And, they argue, comedy is much more “woke” than it used to be, with late-night hosts and comedians playing a pivotal role in the fight for social justice. Is the president killing comedy? Or is he making the funny business ever more relevant?


“TV shows like ‘The Daily Show’ and ‘Saturday Night Live’ have established political satire as a staple of U.S. media. Here is a brief history of political satire on television.”

Friday, January 6, 2017

Comedians discuss how comedy has changed under Trump’s presidency.

Friday, January 12, 2018
For the Motion

“Trump is a bad subject for comedy: He’s shallow and played out, and already what people expect from the comedy about him is bad.”

Thursday, December 21, 2017
Jesse David Fox

“He is an absurdist’s dream: a braggadocious, self-pitying billionaire with a Donald Duck temper; our nation’s punchline-in-chief. But Trump is not comedy gold.”

Friday, June 2, 2017
Burt Helm

“Enough people must share the views of these hosts to keep the careers of Maher, Colbert, Kimmel & Co. afloat, which is to say to keep their ratings high enough to be commercially viable. Yet these insufficiently funny comedians, with their crude political humor, do little more than add to the sad divisiveness that is rending the country.”

Tuesday, February 6, 2018
Joseph Epstein
Against the Motion

“Donald Trump’s accidental jobs-creation program? Generating a huuuuge windfall for comedy writers, producers and digital entrepreneurs.”

Thursday, August 17, 2017
Todd Spangler

"Say what you want about the President, but Trump is making America laugh again.”

Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Dean Obeidallah
A Comedy Boom? Or Bust?

“While President Trump’s presence in the White House has dominated late-night comedy, so much of the material over the three days had little to do with him.”

Thursday, July 13, 2017
Elahe Izadi

“Political correctness is forcing more comics to delicately tip-toe around issues of race, class and sexuality. But is self-censoring and avoiding offensive topics the answer to keeping a career in laughs?”

Wednesday, January 3, 2018
Jessica Brown

“If comedy is to grow, it needs to be inclusive and open to change.”

Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Jason Zinoman
Late-Night Comedy & Politics

“Late night host Jimmy Kimmel sits down with CNN's Frank Pallotta to discuss how politics influences his show and his own intentions for 2020.”

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

“As Hollywood and the media have come to be dominated in extraordinary fashion by the Left, the counterculture has risen: cynical about the entertainment industry, annoyed by their constant pandering, irritated by their snide self-assurance.”

Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Ben Shapiro

“The late-night host recently expressed his regret over his notoriously flimsy 2016 interview with the then-presidential candidate, while admitting he only wants to make America laugh.”

Tuesday, June 26, 2018
David Sims

“Somewhere along the way, the hosts of the late-night shows decided that they had carte blanche to insult not just the people within this administration, but also the ordinary citizens who support Trump, and even those who merely identify as conservatives.”

Monday, May 1, 2017
Caitlin Flanagan
Comedy Against Trump

“We picked comedy because it’s cathartic for people to laugh and it helps them recharge. The time of Trump is very stressful — the guy is aging me. Laughter can be a great antidote to Trump-induced stress.”

Friday, July 20, 2018
Court Stroud

“Trump’s opponents should feel a sort of communal comfort in the knowledge that these jokes are hitting their intended target. Will this comedy help to take down Trump in 2020? Not likely. But will it help us get through the next four years? Most certainly.”

Thursday, February 9, 2017
Jeet Heer
Comedy's Impact

“While a comedian is not going to single-handedly change the hearts and minds of the American electorate, no other art form has been more effective at changing the public debate.”

Thursday, July 26, 2018
Jason Zinoman

“Comedy is more than just a pleasant way to pass an evening, humor more than something to amuse. They’re interwoven into the fabric of our everyday existence.”

Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Mary O’Hara

“Comedians should certainly continue making an effort to be conscientious of  ‘clapter’ by observing when it happens and doubling down on strong joke writing.”

Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Hershal Pandya
Saturday Night Live In the Trump Era

“SNL understands neither what makes Trump alluring nor what makes him dangerous.”

Monday, January 1, 2018
Todd VanDerWerff

“Comedy and tragedy in an age of political chaos”

Monday, May 1, 2017
Chris Jones

“SNL concluded its most-watched season in 23 years, a feat it accomplished while ratcheting up the political material and going hard in the paint on Trump jokes.”

Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Elahe Izadi

“Fifty-two percent of U.S. adults enjoy recent impersonations of Trump-administration officials on NBC’s ‘Saturday Night Live,’ according to a Morning Consult survey.”

Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Mark Hensch
Comedians Respond to Trump

Comedians discuss comedy under Trump – and whether the president has been good or bad for it.

Thursday, July 13, 2017
Elahe Izadi

Saying Trump is good for comedy is “about the same as saying that the Titanic disaster was good for James Cameron and beachcombers: There’s plenty of material, sure, but none of it worth the deaths of thousands — or the persecution of millions.”

Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Aparna Nancherla

Trevor Noah argues, “In South Africa, comedy brings us together. In America, it pulls us apart.”

Monday, December 5, 2016
Trevor Noah
Conservative Comedy

“Life’s tough for conservative satirists in the Trump era. ‘I’m the new Lenny Bruce,’ says one. ‘They’re not arresting me; they’re just not allowing me on TV.’”

Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Jake Nevins