Comedy Tonight: An essay


“Something familiar, something peculiar, something for everyone on comedy tonight
Something that’s gaudy, something that’s bawdy, something for everyone on comedy tonight.”

“Comedy Tonight,” song from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart

Donald Trump isn’t a president, he’s a boorish, unfunny stand up comedian. This is the reason he is so infuriatingly, terrifyingly awful as a statesman and a leader.

We hear his schtick every time he has a rally. There was his gig in Montana, when he singled out the candidate, who was vilified in 2016 for body slamming a reporter. Trump’s up there on the stage, in front of the Trump-placard-carrying faithful, saying “Did you see him? Whoomp!” and gives a demo of tipping over someone. “That’s my kind of guy,” he says.

Meanwhile, faced with the probable torture, murder and dismemberment of a U.S. resident journalist, he blithely puts on his serious face, e.g. the one he doesn’t use at rallies or speeches, and says his administration is going to get to the bottom of it. We can’t take him seriously at times like this because he doesn’t take himself seriously. He’s always waiting for the next opportunity to be funny. The seriousness of any serious situation escapes him.

He has the chaotic mind of a wannabe comedian, the no-talent who walks around believing in his own comedic skill, his great timing, and his ability to deliver a punch line. The issue is, he’s not a comedian, he’s the President of the United States. So every time he acts like a comedian, he comes across as the moron from next door at the neighborhood barbecue, making everyone uncomfortable, except the moron down the street who looks up to him as the really funny dude who makes fun of everyone except himself and other morons.

He is everything his rich and powerful supporters wanted: an entertainer of the hoi palloi, the great deflector of attention through use of bald statements meant to appeal to the base in his base, the bully in the school yard, with his average folk supporters standing behind him because he’s powerful. But he isn’t. He’s a tool. What outrages many people delights others. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the handlers are knitting our country’s fabric; it will clothe them and their ilk. The rest of us will be naked and cold.

And all because a would be comedian, who got fired from a television show, and became president, is standing on the biggest club stage of all time.