Donald Trump defies parody. We can make fun of him. We can insult him. And we can try to cut him to his core, but he cannot be parodied. In fact, as good as Alec Baldwin’s impression of Trump is on SNL, it’s not really very funny. It only works to the extent that we know that Donald Trump is watching, and as someone who reviles Trump, it’s exhilarating to know that Trump is basically looking in what is almost a reverse-fun house mirror, which is to say: Baldwin’s impression of Trump is less alarming than the actual Trump because we know Baldwin is putting on an act. Trump is being himself.
I have only watched a few clips now of Comedy Central’s The President’s Show — a late-night talk show hosted by “Donald Trump” (as played by Anthony Atamanuik) — but I’ve seen enough to know it’s not effective as parody. Here’s a two minute clip from the episode — the best two minutes I’ve seen of the show, so far.
It doesn’t work. Parody Donald Trump expressing child-like wonder about an 18-wheeler driving by before falling into an existential dread isn’t funny because it’s not an exaggerated enough form of the real thing: Donald Trump playing like a child in an 18-wheeler on the White House lawn while a major legislative effort (the repeal of Obamacare) was crashing and burning.
The actual Trump is funnier than the parody Trump, but the actual Trump has something that the parody Trump does not: The tinge of horror.
Here’s another 40-second clip from The President’s Show.
See? Not funny, and you know why it’s not funny? Because it cannot compete with the real thing. Check this out, from the Reuters interview with the President yesterday:
More than five months after his victory and two days shy of the 100-day mark of his presidency, the election is still on Trump’s mind. Midway through a discussion about Chinese President Xi Jinping, the president paused to hand out copies of what he said were the latest figures from the 2016 electoral map.
“Here, you can take that, that’s the final map of the numbers,” the Republican president said from his desk in the Oval Office, handing out maps of the United States with areas he won marked in red. “It’s pretty good, right? The red is obviously us.”
He had copies for each of the three Reuters reporters in the room.
Five months later, and he’s still bragging about his win. There’s nothing a comedian can do with that, folks. He’s taken it as far as it can go.
We’re still waiting for pop culture to give us a great take on the Trump presidency, but I don’t think they’re going to do it going the comedic route. Someone needs to do a deep dive into his psyche and come up with a dark drama about Trump’s insecurity, his loneliness, his spitefulness and his jealousies. We want to see sad Trump walking around the White House in his robe, grumbling at cable news, and lashing out at his staff because of his own deep, deep insecurities. President Trump is not sketch comedy. President Trump is Requiem for a Dream.