On this week’s “Last Week Tonight,” host and political comedian John Oliver was making fun of the rumor that President Trump was going to purchase Greenland. To be honest, it’s a funny topic. The concept of America, or any country for that matter, purchasing another country at this point in history is absurd and gives comedians piles of material to work with — or should at least.
Unfortunately for the team at “Last Week Tonight,” who I would estimate is around 20 or more writers and producers — many of whom are probably great comedians — they always have to fall back on the same tired, cheap “orange man bad” premises.
In the middle of what could have been a solid monologue, Mr. Oliver dropped the old ‘Melania doesn’t love Trump and is a prisoner’ tired joke when he said, “Greenland is icy, distant, and semi-autonomous. It’s exactly Trump’s type,” while an image of the first lady appeared on screen. Boring.
Since Mr. Trump became a serious candidate for president in 2015, late night comedians, especially the four heavily political ones (John Oliver, Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert, and Trevor Noah) have beat the same jokes and concepts about the man to death … then dug them, beat them to death again … and repeated that even a few more times.
Here are literally all the ideas they have in no particular order:
He’s not as rich as he claims to be.
Women hate him.
Melania is a prisoner.
He’s a Nazi.
He has tiny hands.
He’s a Putin puppet.
He’s a corrupt businessman.
His hair is bad.
I’m sure I’m missing a few? Probably, but you get the point.
Millions upon millions of dollars get poured into staffing and producing these jokes on TV when they are the same hacky, eye-roll-inducing criticisms you can get for free on Twitter.
Another problem with all of these “joke” premises is that they come from a place of hate, not one of actual humor. Sure, it works for their audiences, but even they are getting tired of the same stuff. The only people who watch and enjoy these shows anymore are ‘bubble-living’ liberals — which makes perfect sense. Every one of the hateful premises for the jokes that they enjoy are based on the same unfounded hateful claims that they yell to each other all day long.
The numbers for the shows whether on social or in TV ratings may stay consistent, but that consistency comes from the same liberal bubble communities. Sure, there might be a spike when you see Stephen Colbert draw a swastika on a chalk board or say something about Mr. Trump having Mr. Putin’s penis in his mouth (both he’s done) because it’s so shocking that people want to see what the extra hateful fuss is about, but other than that, it’s the same stale and tired material.
Michelle Wolf (remember her?) found out the hard way that hateful jokes don’t sell. She bombed at the White House Correspondents Dinner, not because of her making fun of Sarah Sanders (I know that was the headline), but because her material was mean instead of funny. She didn’t try to make fun of Mrs. Sanders — she went to berate her — which I’m sure plays well with the crowds who currently write for political comedy shows.
One out-of-touch step further were her jokes about abortion — she even had a ‘Happy Abortion Day’ sketch on her show — which I’m sure plays to ultra-liberals in bubbles, but not to anyone on either side of the issue, because whether you’re pro-choice or pro-life, abortion is never funny.
One of the best pieces of advice that is given to every comedian early in his career is to go to open mics to perform in front of people who ‘don’t know you.’ People who know you and like you will almost always laugh to be nice. People who don’t know you will sit silently or heckle if your jokes are something they’ve heard before or are just plain bad.
Sadly for the creatives for the late night hosts I mentioned, it seems as if they’re just writing for their friends in their liberal-bubble — it’s been old for Trump supporters since about the first time they heard jokes based on those premises and here’s where they should heed my advice — it’s getting very old for Democrats that they think are on their side outside of their realm.
While Democratic candidates for president push very little policy and more of the premises of hate about Donald Trump that I mentioned above, Democratic voters are slowly losing hope in their 2020 chances. And when they try to escape the stresses of life and politics by tuning in to a comedian who says nearly the exact same thing, their party turns them completely off.
So where one might simply write off Mr. Oliver’s tired joke about Melania not loving her husband — Democrats that don’t live in the bubble groan, roll their eyes and turn off the TV — and eventually their own party.
By the way, the best joke about it was the meme of the huge gold Trump Tower in Greenland — which Mr. Trump copied and tweeted. My only complaint, he should have given the creator, Jon Gabriel, credit.
• Tim Young is a political comedian and author of “I Hate Democrats/I Hate Republicans” (Post Hill Press).
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