OPINION: Late-night comedians on Trump & Clinton
This presidential campaign is the nuttiest in my lifetime, but at least America is maintaining its sense of humor.
Already the Republican Convention has produced gaffes involving plagiarism that leave us asking if the slogan should be changed:
“Make America Guess Again.” …or even more cruel:
“See what happens when you let an immigrant speak on a national stage…”
Late-night comics have found a treasure trove of material in Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. He’s been mocked three times as often as any other candidate throughout the campaign. Many of the jokes have been very direct and even harsh. But some are pretty dang funny:
“In a speech yesterday, Donald Trump spoke in favor of waterboarding. Trump said, ‘It’s how I got two of my three wives to say yes.'” — Conan O’Brien
“A new Quinnipiac University poll has Trump and (Hillary) Clinton almost tied. This is the first tie for Donald Trump that wasn’t manufactured in China.” — Jimmy Kimmel
“After weeks of hesitation, Paul Ryan finally endorsed Donald Trump for president on Thursday. When asked what influenced his decision, Ryan said, ‘Xanax. Lots and lots of Xanax.'” — Jimmy Fallon
Whereas Trump jokes tend to jab at the man’s personal life and business and television career, jokes about Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton are slightly tamer. They have been targeting her classified email fiasco, wealth and husband:
“Although Hillary Clinton was cleared of charges in the investigation of her deleted emails, her actions were described by the FBI as ‘extremely reckless.’ However in her defense, the report pointed out that she was Hillary reckless, not Bill reckless.'” — Conan O’Brien
“Top Secrets? I don’t think she should be allowed to handle Pop Secret. I wouldn’t trust you with Secret deodorant.” — Stephen Colbert
“The L.A. Times just revealed that Bill Clinton has demanded private jets to get to speaking engagements. In their defense, Bill and Hillary need private jets ‘cuz they’re the only planes that can fit all of their baggage.” — Jimmy Fallon
Trump is a free, unscripted spirit who sometimes says regrettable things — and teams of late-night writers are standing by eager to pounce on every slip-up or flip-flop.
“Donald Trump is actually taking a break from the campaign to go visit his golf resort in Scotland tomorrow. Right after he leaves the U.S., Republicans will say, ‘Quick! Build the wall!'” — Jimmy Fallon
“House Speaker Paul Ryan today announced that he will appear at (the) Republican National Convention to deliver a 10-minute speech that he is writing himself. As opposed to Trump, who will be giving a 10-hour speech that he will be writing as he goes.” — Seth Meyers
Unlike anyone who ever ran for the highest office, the more Trump has been targeted and mocked by comedians — the more he becomes a caricature — the more resilient he becomes among his supporters.
This portends an increasingly coarse election as Clinton and Trump battle it out for the presidency:
“Hillary Clinton gave a speech in Columbus, Ohio, where she called Trump an uncaring businessman. Which, I guess, is supposed to be an insult, except those are the exact words he has printed on his business card.” — Jimmy Kimmel
“In a speech today, Donald Trump blasted Hillary Clinton, calling her ‘a world-class liar’ and ‘the most corrupt person to seek the presidency.’ Trump then said, ‘Wait a second, I think I’m in love.'” — Conan O’Brien
This political season’s biting humor reflects the chaotic and divided state of the American people — just as both candidates do.
Still, I think most of us can identify with this joke from Conan O’Brien: “A new poll came out and it claims that 25 percent of voters remain undecided. Apparently, they’re undecided on whether to move to Canada or Mexico.”
Tom Purcell, author of “Misadventures of a 1970s Childhood” and “Wicked Is the Whiskey,” a Sean McClanahan mystery novel, both available at Amazon.com, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist.
©2016 Tom Purcell, courtesy of Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate
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