Late-night’s Conan O’Brien didn’t turn his TBS show into yet another Trump-bashing showcase.
O’Brien leaned on his tried and true shtick instead, a blend of surreal and silly punchlines that didn’t require a poly-sci degree to enjoy.
Yes, he leaned to the Left before, during and after Donald Trump left the White House. And boy did it show a time or two. Even the late-night Jimmys didn’t pull off a bit as grotesque as this:
Now, O’Brien is trying to put the era of Trump-obsessed comedy in perspective, via Kara Swisher’s New York Magazine podcast.
It wasn’t the veteran comic’s finest hour.
O’Brien, who left his TBS show in 2021, says late-night hosts aren’t to blame for the endless parade of limp Trump gags.
It’s the real estate mogul’s fault.
“… I think he’s hurt political comedy by being so outlandish himself. I think the January 6 thing is a blip compared to how much he’s hurt comedy.”
Jokes aside, O’Brien noted that “when Trump came along, what a lot of people have to revert to is: ‘Doesn’t he suck? I hate that guy. He’s an a**hole.’ And those aren’t jokes.”
He’s right on one count.
So many “jokes” attacking Trump over the past six years weren’t funny. They were mean-spirited barbs infected by liberal talking points. Comics ignored Trump’s curious appeal, the political rallies that doubled as stand-up events and his effective first (and only?) term in office.
All O’Brien and friends saw was the cartoon version of Trump, one cemented by the partisan press.
Call it Hitler 2.0.
“You can’t parody something that already has that crazy, irregular shape. It’s not possible.”
O’Brien is on stronger ground here. The Babylon Bee suffers from a similar issue. How do you mock the modern Left when every third news headline already sounds like a Bee parody?
Dig deeper. Learn more about Trump and his singular brand. Listen to both his critics and supporters. Chances are, the jokes will be much funnier than what late-night hacks delivered over and again.
None of this is to say Trump isn’t a juicy target for comedians. He might be the juiciest in recent memory.
A sly satirist could wring endless laughs from his gargantuan ego, his physical mannerisms and slippery public profile.
Or, they could just watch Tyler Fischer.
The comedian’s Trump impression is … incredible. It’s not cruel or mean-spirited. Fischer nails the mannerisms and vocal rhythms, using both to create a fresh take on the 45th president.
Fellow comedian Shane Gillis also serves up a solid Trump impression, bringing a creative spin to the larger-than-life figure. [Note: Very adult language in this clip]
Gillis doesn’t downplay Trump’s cruel streak or megalomania. Neither comic is fawning over Trump or ladling out red meat to MAGA nation. They’re finding interesting ways to filter his persona to comedic effect.
It’s the opposite of what Alec Baldwin brought to “Saturday Night Live.” Even liberal scribes grew frustrated by the actor’s one-note Trump impression.
You’d think a bombastic reality-show-host president who never stops creating controversy would be a bottomless gold mine for Saturday Night Live — so why do SNL‘s Donald Trump sketches feel so tired and toothless?
O’Brien’s longevity in the late-night trenches speaks to his enduring wit. His inability to bring something fresh to Trump gags, and willingness to defend his peers for doing the same, is beneath him.