I’m a political comedian. And I can’t wait for this election to be over.
Politicians used to be serious people, and comedians were the crazy ones who tried to find funny things to say about them. Until Donald Trump came along. Without even dipping into the countless, public vulgarities and obscenities that Trump has uttered, the fundamental truth of this election is that Donald Trump is not a serious person, is not a serious candidate, and is not even serious about being President. In the simplest terms, Donald Trump, with his total lack of grasp of the issues, and his unwillingness and lack of interest in learning about them, is a joke.
The conventional wisdom is that this election is so distasteful because of the high negatives of both candidates. But as a comedian, I think the blame is solely on Trump, his uninformed and misinformed supporters, and the mainstream news media. Hillary Clinton is a serious, experienced, and like all candidates before her, flawed candidate, whose unpopularity has in large part been manufactured by the relentless demonizing of her the past four years with non scandal scandals like Benghazi and her emails. And the media, on all sides of the political spectrum, have eagerly jumped on the bandwagon because they know the average American viewer understands the concept of emails far better than how over government works and what the important issues really are.
But it is Donald Trump who ultimately has made the 2016 election not only unfunny, but actually scary. The premise that a reality television star can rise to become the Republican nominee for President of the United States, is so hackneyed and unbelievable, that before this year, it would have been rejected out of hand by even the most low brow of television and movie producers. And to compound this embarrassingly toxic scenario, Trump has risen to the top with a nonstop barrage of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and anti-women attacks, along with disparaging a war hero who was tortured, and the parents of a war hero who was killed, just to name a few.
The fact that Trump is running for President, with his total absence of any of the requisite knowledge or judgement needed for the job, could possibly be amusing if as a result of his mean, bigoted, moronic statements, he received about 4% of the vote in the Republican primaries, or was receiving the same number as a third party candidate. But his landslide primary victories, and his closeness in the latest Presidential polls, means that there is a large base of support for who Trump is, and what he stands for. And there is nothing funny about that. From the endorsement of the Ku Klux Klan, and the worst elements of American society, to his supporters who revel in the ugliest hatred of minorities, and who accept unquestioningly the most bogus and blatantly false “news” reports from totally uncredible sources, this is instead, a sad, frightening and disturbing chapter in our nation’s history.
The decidedly unfunny nature of the Trump candidacy has been reflected in the brilliant work of television hosts like Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers and Trevor Noah, whose powerful commentaries have been filled with more outrage than jokes, unlike the benign mimicry of the Saturday Night Live debate sketches.
Many people have approached me during this election season and said, “You must love this election, so much great material”. No, I hate it. And while I certainly have my share of Trump material, I would have been much happier working a little harder to come up with jokes about a serious Republican candidate who wasn’t a demagogue, and who didn’t appeal to the fervor of some Americans to elect a dictator, instead of a President.