Thanks for the Laughs in Trumpland


By the time you read this – barring some sort of miracle, and Lord, do we need one – Donald Trump will be president. If anything that seemed like a bad joke ever came true with such dire potential consequences, this would be it.

Then again, jokes may just be part of what saves us from the most intellectually and emotionally unfit man to ever take that office.

I recently lamented the absence of musical artists from the fray during nearly all of the 2016 election season. But one segment of the entertainment community did honorable duty as Trump laid waste to truth, decency and democracy: comedians.

The honor roll on that count includes Bill Maher, John Oliver, Samantha Bee and to some Amy Schumer-degree Jon Stewart. The last-mentioned’s replacement on The Daily Show, Trevor Noah, seems to have come into his own thanks to the election.

And right at the head of the pack is Alec Baldwin. His impersonation of Trump has brought “Saturday Night Live” back into relevance. And it gets very deep under the paper-thin skin of the man who should never be president.

Proof positive of that was beautifully provided back in early December by one Danielle Muscato, who responded to Trump’s infantile Twitter complaint that Baldwin’s parody is “sad” with a series of brilliant tweets about how maybe he needs to focus on more pressing matters and behave in a more presidential manner. What’s truly sad is that isn’t going to happen.

Baldwin himself offered a clever tweet as well: He’ll stop doing the impersonation once Trump releases his tax returns. Yeah, fat chance of that.

What is likely to happen is attacks from Trumplandia that might send a chill through the brave comedy world. It’s been obvious since Spy magazine dubbed him a “short-fingered vulgarian” back in the 1980s. The pathologically litigious Trump threatened to sue.

Once in the Oval Office, with a compliant GOP Congress and a vacancy on the Supreme Court to fill that will swing it to the right, Trump will have the power to potentially make life very uncomfortable for anyone who speaks out against him. He has already indicated that he does not respect will challenge and attempt to repress media coverage of him and his administration. Can not just Twitter slams but actions against entertainers be far behind?

He’s a treasure trove for comedians, saying and/or doing stupid, outrageous or offensive things on a daily basis – comedic gold. The fact that he gets so out of sorts at even the slightest criticism, much less ridicule, only seems to inspire them further.

Compare him with Barack Obama, a man who has endured the worst kinds of slurs, lies and calumny with dignity and good humor.

For those of us who consider Trump a danger to the nation and world, the jokes and mockery have provided us with comic relief from a man and situation that’s both scary and depressing. It’s been a welcome ameliorative.

But things are about to get very unfunny. So let’s enjoy the laughs for now and hope there will continue to be Trump jokes in the future.

Populist Picks

CD: Blue & Lonesome by The Rolling Stones – A new Stones album worth listening to is an occasion for celebration. Especially as the last great full long-player they made was Some Girls in 1978. They’ve wisely chosen to delve into more obscure songs on their collection of classic blues (other than Willie Dixon’s “I Can’t Quit You Baby”), and are playing their butts off on the music that inspired the band in the first place, especially Mick Jagger on harmonica and guitarist Ron Wood. I doubt this will be a go-to Stones album in the future, but hope it’s a warm-up to a new set of originals that will be.

Films: Star Trek/Star Trek Into Darkness/Star Trek Beyond – It took me a while to get around to this reboot of the original Star Trek TV series and movies, but had much fun once I did. Young actors play the original characters with verve and stunning accuracy – Chris Pine shines at recreating William Shatner’s Captain Kirk – and space is still the place for entertaining adventures galore.

Rob Patterson is a music and entertainment writer in Austin, Texas. Email

From The Progressive Populist, March 1, 2017

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