Comedian and former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Norm Macdonald spoke at length about his disdain for the politicization of comedy in the era of President Trump, saying “SNL” performers turned the fair and square election of Mr. Trump into some sort of national tragedy.
In an interview published Thursday by The Daily Beast, Mr. Macdonald was asked by writer Matt Wilstein whether he watched this past season of “SNL.” Mr. Macdonald didn’t hold back when it came to comedian Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton character singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” in the first episode since Mr. Trump’s election.
“Oh my god, did you see that?” Mr. Macdonald said. “And this wasn’t even a tragedy; just a guy got elected. … And I was sad Leonard Cohen died, I love Leonard Cohen. But at the end, Kate McKinnon said, “I’m going to get through this and so are you. [The actual quote was, “I’m not giving up, and neither should you.”] I was like, what the f– are we getting through? That a man was duly elected president? What are you, crazy?
“Like, at first, I seriously thought she meant Leonard Cohen’s death,” he said. “And I was like, well I can get through that. I can get through anything. I got through my own father’s death. You think I can’t get through a man getting elected president of the United States? It was so absurd that, for some reason, she was the one that was supposed to let me know that it’s all right to go on. Go on as if nothing happened. Nothing exploded.”
Mr. Macdonald, who once stated that Mr. Trump “will become a beloved president,” said he has a great deal of respect for Alec Baldwin, but thinks his impersonation of Mr. Trump is “playing” into the president’s hands and contributing to his success.
“Because if you satirize someone, or mock them, you’re trivializing any danger that they might be,” he said. “I don’t know any other way to do something. You can’t get a laugh without making the person more likable.”
“You know, they show the old Carson shows and he never mentioned — during Watergate, he’s doing these really tame, little jokes,” he said. “I wonder when it happened. Maybe with Jon Stewart. But it happened at some point that talk show hosts had to be political pundits. And if a train explodes outside of my house, I have to have James Corden talk me through it.”
“I always wrote non-political jokes, because I just hate politics so much. Jim Downey wrote the political jokes,” he said. “And I was kind of shocked, because someone sent me a thing of all the Hillary jokes I did. It was like 20 minutes of them. And they were all, everyone of them, the premise was that she was a huge liar. And that was like 20 years ago. I didn’t know that. I guess she was. My theory is this: People hated Hillary Clinton so much that they voted for someone they hated more than Hillary Clinton in order to rub it in.”
The comedian debuted his own YouTube talk show “Norm Macdonald Live” on Tuesday, with his first guest being retired “Late Show” host David Letterman.
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