Making comedy great again
SATIRE: During last year’s US election campaign, Donald Trump promised to bring back industrial jobs and generally “make America great again”. Manufacturing jobs haven’t materialized yet, but President Trump has been good for one industry — political satire.
Although television audiences are falling on the whole, satirical comedy is an exception. According to Global Television, audiences for programmes like Saturday Night Live have gone up as much as 60 per cent. This means more jobs for production crews as well as comedians.
Among those profiting from the Trump effect are actor Alec Baldwin and comedian Melissa McCarthy. Baldwin’s Trump impersonation has been so convincing that his picture mistakenly appeared in a news story in the Dominican newspaper El Nacional instead of Trump’s. McCarthy’s parodies of White House press officer Sean Spicer have been watched millions of times. Spicer says they’re funny but she chews too much gum.
Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central, has found lots to laugh about in satirizing Trump. He’s not alone — late-night talk show hosts like John Oliver and Stephen Colbert are also taking aim at the president. “We have to live in Trump’s world now,” says Steve Bodow, executive producer of The Daily Show. “We used to be able to observe him, but now we have to live in his world,” Bedow told CBC News. “He’s taken the country hostage, in a way.”
"Trump has taken the country hostage, in a way." Steve Bodow
Not everyone is happy about the Trump boom, however. Popular Canadian satirist Rick Mercer says he is “aghast” at Trump’s antics. “There’s no joy there,” Mercer explains. “A lot of people think, ‘Oh, this must be great for people in your business’, and I don’t think anybody in my business wishes ill on the world or the country just to make their job a little easier.”
Mercer worries about Trump’s attacks on the media. “A lot of satirists are on the left and so they often shine when they have something to complain about. But it’s one thing to have something to complain about; it’s another thing when you feel like there is serious harm being done.”