Donald Trump and Satire: Super Soaking
Lessons in civics from comedians.
Barack obama was bad for satirists, even if few seemed to mind.
Moderate, upstanding and cool, the first black president gave close observers of human ridiculousness little to work with.
Most gave up and welcomed him admiringly onto their shows.
“I can’t believe you’re leaving before me,” Mr Obama, appearing on “The Daily Show” for the seventh time, told its outgoing host, Jon Stewart.
It was not the relationship to power the acerbic Mr Stewart would have liked.
Thankfully, Donald Trump is making satire great again.
The most conspicuous beneficiary, “Saturday Night Live” (SNL), a hitherto jaded platform for comedy skits on NBC, is seeing its best ratings in over 20 years.
This is partly thanks to Alec Baldwin’s parody of the president as an irascible halfwit.
But the chaos in the month-old administration has provided additional targets.
On February 4th SNL unveiled a hilarious parody of Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, as a gum-chewing maniac.
The belligerent Mr Spicer has since appeared cowed.
There are a couple of lessons here for more sober political commentators.
One is to abandon the complacency about Mr Trump that, until Mr Baldwin took over in October, had rendered SNL’s portrayal of him toothless and pointless.
Another is to let the weirdness of this presidency speak for itself.
“America first, Australia sucks. Your reef is failing. Prepare to go to war,” the SNL Trump blustered down the phone to Australia’s president, Malcolm Turnbull, on February 4th.
That, minus the threat of war, is pretty much what Mr Trump said to Mr Turnbull in a recent phone call.
Other satirists are finding Mr Trump’s tendency to defy parody harder to handle.
“It’s really tricky now as satire has become reality,” Trey Parker, co-creator of “South Park”, a satirical cartoon which presented the Trump-Clinton contest as the “giant douche or the turd sandwich”, has said.
“现在讽刺已经变成现实的情况真的很棘手”, 南方公园”的联合创始人Trey Parker这么说到，他曾将特朗普 - 克林顿的竞选以一则“巨型灌肠或者三明治”的讽刺漫画展示出来。
The Onion has the same problem.
One of the satirical online paper’s recent headlines, “Eric Trump Scolds Father That He Mustn’t Inquire About The Businesses, For He’s Sworn Not To Tell,” is a pretty faithful description of the firewall between the 45th president and his family firm.
在洋葱网的最近头条中，“Eric Trump 责骂其父亲，即他不可打听企业事务，因为他宣誓了不过问，”这是对第45位总统和他的家族企业之间所存在的防火墙的一个相当靠谱的描述。
Indeed, many of the headlines generated by Mr Trump’s administration are deeply Onion-esque.
Kellyanne Conway, a Trump spokeswoman, was briefly barred by CNN for using alternative facts—her references to a fictitious jihadist atrocity, which Ms Conway called the “Bowling Green Massacre”, were the last straw.
Mr Trump’s wife, Melania, has sued a newspaper for reporting lurid untruths about her on the basis that this cost her the “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” of making millions as “one of the most photographed women in the world”.
No satirist could do better.
SNL’s response, in sending up Mr Spicer, is to shift the focus onto one of the relatively normal players in Trump world, to show how pervasively strange it is.
At first glance, none of this should bother Mr Trump.
SNL’s weekly audience of 10m represents less than half his Twitter following and is dominated by left-leaning millennials who would sooner work in an abattoir than vote Trump.
Yet Mr Trump, who unlike his core voters devours the mainstream media and loves to hobnob with the celebrities who appear on shows like SNL, minds the lampooning a lot.
“Not funny, cast is terrible, always a complete hit job. Really bad television!” he tweeted last month.
SNL’s response was to start planning ways to take Mr Baldwin’s impression, which the actor has described as a civic duty, to a wider audience.