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What Is Clapter (And Why Late-Night Comedians Love It)?

Propaganda comedy is all the rage, and audiences are the worse for it

We all know woke is the worst thing to happen to comedy since props and sledgehammers.

Clapter may come in second.

The Urban Dictionary defines clapter as, ” ‘joke,’ often making a political or social statement, whose purpose is to make the audience applaud and agree instead of laugh. Popular with hack comedians and their fans.”

Others say it came from Amanda Filipacchi’s 1993 book, “Nude Men.” The author created it to describe audiences applauding a hipster magician.

Reddit teems with clapter references and definitions. The following, from user Cyril_Clunge, is spot on.

…when someone tries a joke that doesn’t have a punchline and is just them saying they don’t like Trump and they’re progressive. Congrats, you told a room full of progressive people that you share the same views as them.

No matter.

We know clapter when we hear it even if the term is unfamiliar to some. Consider any variation of “Orange Man Bad” to describe former President Donald Trump.

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In fact, Trump is the main source of modern-day clapter. The modern use of the term goes back at least 16 years, according to one Mark Twain Prize winner. Tina Fey gave a withering 2008 interview in which she credited a colleague for the term only to blast a colleague for embracing it.

You’ll wince at the irony soon enough.

Fey, speaking with Reader’s Digest, said fellow “Saturday Night Live” alum Seth Meyers coined the term to describe, “when you do a political joke and people go, ‘Woo-hoo.’ It means they sort of approve but didn’t really like it that much.”

The “30 Rock” alum then mocked a faux news program for delivering it.

“You hear a lot of that on [whispers] The Daily Show.”

Ouch. True, but ouch.

Late-night TV is the current home for clapter, and it’s gotten much worse since the early days of “The Daily Show.” Yes, that Comedy Central platform still embraces it, but the biggest culprits work the broadcast TV circuit.

Colbert. Kimmel. Meyers. And, to a lesser extent, Fallon.

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The four late-night liberals stock their monologues with clapter aimed at demeaning Republicans, from Trump to whoever might be in the news that week.

Need examples?

Here’s “Daily Show” co-host Michael Kosta mocking Trump and celebrating President Joe Biden at the same time in a clapter two-fer. The subject? A report saying FBI agents could shoot to kill during their Mar-a-Lago raid on Trump’s compound.

“I always thought of Biden as a doddering old man, but Donald Trump makes him look like one of The Expendables.” 

“‘Locked and loaded’? ‘Ready to take me out’? I’ve never heard Joe Biden sound so [expletive] cool in my life.”

Jimmy Kimmel on Trump:

“Maybe you’re right about me being dumb. You know, we should take one of those cognitive tests or an IQ test together or maybe we could sit down for a long game of Scrabble and find out who has the bigly-er brain. I would love to do that with you.”

Meyers on Trump allegedly sleeping during his trial.

“You could say a lot of things about Joe Biden. Yes, he’s old. Yes, he sometimes flubs a word or loses steam in the middle of a story. But at least he doesn’t pass out at his own criminal trial like he’s on a red-eye to Barcelona,” he added. “If you can’t make it through your own trial for defrauding voters in the presidential election without nodding off, how are you going to make it through your daily security briefings as president? Are you going to put a bunk bed in the situation room? Who’s going to be on the bottom? Rudy?”

The Origins of Clapter

Why did the trend begin? Again, blame Trump.

Late-night comedy changed after the real estate mogul entered the political scene. The format, then left-leaning but not aggressively so, collectively picked a side in the Trump/Hillary Clinton slugfest.

They trained their comic firepower on the former and mostly ignored the latter. It was an election year, and they did all they could to anoint Clinton the first female president.

They failed, but they never stopped trying after that. 


These comedians also started seeing themselves as political pundits, attempting to shape the news with their monologues. And the media is partly to blame here. Journalists rally to their side every time they uncork a new anti-Trump manifesto, amplifying them in the process.

Consider this think piece about how Kimmel became the most “important” voice in late-night TV.

The former “Man Show” host “has become television’s most unlikely spokesman for a nation baffled and frustrated by Trump and the Republican Congress in 2017,” Vulture declared.

Late-night comedians helped us laugh again after the 9/11 attacks. They turned to clapter after Trump’s election.

You’ll never hear a clapter gag aimed at the Democrats. The show hosts assume their audience leans to the Left, meaning crowds won’t clap at a joke aimed at themselves. They’re partially right. How many right-leaning Americans are glued to Colbert and co. these days?

Few, most likely. They’re watching Fox News’ “Gutfeld!” which routinely outdraws his far-Left competition. 

How to Avoid Clapter at All Costs

Even liberals are exhausted by clapter. They share their disgust at the format on social media. Yes, we hate Trump but can you tell a different joke, they ask.

Make all the Trump jokes you want but just make them, you know, jokes. The monologue used to be the only thing I’d watch but now, for the reason above, I can’t be bothered with it …

If you’re sick of all the clapter, there’s hope.

Rebel comedians abound in our digital age. Shane Gillis. Ryan Long. Tyler Fischer. Tim Dillon. Andrew Schulz. They don’t pledge allegiance to one political party. They’re just … funny. They also mock who needs to be mocked, never pulling punches along the way.

Trump. Biden. AOC. Pelosi.

Make a mistake, and they’ll call you out. And they’re laughing all the way to the bank.


  1. The fact these people are always on the same page is good evidence that they are managed from behind the scenes. You don’t get on TV without being “vetted”, by which I mean a proven team player. Only team players get to occupy positions of influence. So of course they repeat the same things at the same time to the same canned clapter. It’s all a show, like the Soviet Potemkin Village.

  2. Greg Gutfeld is the only funny person doing late night these days, and also the only reason to watch Fox News.

  3. It’s really amazing how hard the corporations and the TV businesses they own work so hard to turn the entire country far left. And they struggle. Even if almost every show is far left, its still not working 100%. They won’t be happy until we are all living in our pods, eating bugs, and working our 12-hour a day factory jobs so our leftist kings can live in luxury.

  4. CBS screwed the pooch when they tapped Step=hen Coal-Bert to replace David Lefterman. They could have (and should have) given that gig to Craig Ferguson, who is not only hilarious but also nonpartisan.
    Hard to say if he would have stayed that way, but if his work on the Late Late Show, or whatever it was called, is any indication, I think he would have.

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