Some comedians like Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park, and Stewart Lee, to name 50% of my collective knowledge of comedy, have expressed perplexion at the presidency of Donald Trump, and things like Brexit, where they find it's barely possible to lampoon something that in its very nature is ludicrous. Stone and Parker, for two, have publicly given up, and decided to keep South Park in the realm of poop jokes, rather than social satire, for now.
I say they're all quitters.
I say finding humor in Trump, and I mean solid, real comedy, the kind that gets under the skin and exposes undeniable truths and twists reality into a sideshow hall of mirrors through distortion and exaggeration, is still incredibly possible. It's just that the target has suddenly changed shape.
The Daily Show, for years, made comedy out of simply showing two clips back to back of politicians saying contradictory things, and then having Jon Stewart mug to the camera. Hypocrisy is shaming, no? The audience gets a little thrill of schadenfreude out of seeing a powerful person look like a bumbling idiot, while also confirming their privately held belief that since they're on the opposite side of the political spectrum, they must be a bumbling idiot.
It's harder to do that with Trump because while other politicians tend to live and act by a particular set of principles, Trump has none. Trump contradicts himself joyously. It's hard to peg him through absurdity because much of what he does doesn't make sense to anyone but him. He's been President for over 6 months, and there are still op-eds being written about "What Makes Trump Tick."
None of that matters unless you've been writing the same kind of political jokes for decades and just filling names into the appropriate slots. I say, Trump provides us with an opportunity for an entirely different kind of comedy. Instead of lampooning him, let's think about what he says about us, and our political processes.
Might we get some giggles out of dropping Trump or Trump-like figures at important events in history. Henry VIII seems rather Trump-ish, whacking off wives and making his own church so he wouldn't have to follow the rules of the Pope. What if Trump won the Presidency in 1933? How would he respond to the Great Depression? Or nazis? Is Jefferson's fling with Sally Hemings or Andrew Jackson's psychotic rants really so different from what Trump would do in a given situation? Or travel the other way through time into speculative fiction and make him a mad scientist! Or an alien! Trump is a specific character, who everyone found quite entertaining and hilarious before he became the leader of the free world, and comedy can do a great deal to remind everyone that he does not belong in the white house.
But since he is, we can have some fun there too. After all, people voted for him. What exactly did they expect him to do. Not in the policy-"build-a-wall"-"lock-her-up"-sort of way, but in the abstract principles sort of way. There's comedy (and horror) to be mined from imagining the dichotomy between what Trump voters want, and what they really want.
There's comedy on the other sides of the political aisle too (I am convinced there's more than one). Liberals went a little bit bazonkers over Trump. With glee before the election, and desperate fainting spells after. And personally, it fascinates me, watching the government fall apart around Trump, how much of it was held together out of sheer manners and tradition. Different forms of government that would be better or worse suited to leadership by Trump.
Lastly, comedians could always pretend that Trump will, in fact, prove to be the worst President ever in the history of America, and turn him into a grotesque caricature of a punchline, in much the way everyone now does with Hitler, and political cartoonists do with everyone.
But y'know, funny.