There’s been a few articles coming out lately, saying that comedy, and laughter, can be the key to unravelling the Trump administration by pointing out its flaws in a way that sensible discussion doesn’t seem to be able to. Take for example this New Yorker article, about comedians and sportsmen alike use the term “alternative facts” to poke a hole in its very essence.
“But there is a third kind of humor that could ultimately do the most to deflate Trump. Last weekend, in an attempt to explain the new Administration’s insistence on lying about the size of the crowds at Trump’s Inauguration, Kellyanne Conway went on “Meet the Press” to explain that Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, had been offering “alternative facts.” Trump’s team knows the political power of a concise, catchy, and easily repeated phrase—and they must recognize, in “alternative facts,” a potential crack in the veneer of Trumpism. The phrase is not simply plainly ridiculous, it’s pathetically so. It’s the kind of thing that an aspiring strongman like Trump himself would never say—he just blusters, pretending, or maybe even believing, that the things he says are the real facts, the only facts. Instead, it’s what the semi-reasonable people who work for him have to come up with in order to serve two masters—Trump on the one hand and reality on the other. “He believes what he believes,” Spicer later said about his boss.
In the past few days, the phrase has been popping up everywhere. In the sports world, as Deadspin has pointed out, various N.B.A. coaches have been making a version of the same “alternative-fact” joke with reporters. Mike D’Antoni, of the Houston Rockets, when asked why his team had lost five of their past eight games, replied, “Actually we won all those games. I’m going with that alternative-fact thing.” The Dallas Stars hockey team claimed on their scoreboard that attendance at a recent game was 1.5 million. The comedian Ellen DeGeneres, citing alternative facts, bragged that her movie “Finding Dory” was nominated for an Oscar. A pizza chain has begun selling an alternative-fact zero-calorie pizza, with bacon, pepperoni, sausage, and ham. It’s not even a political joke anymore—Jimmy Fallon is making jokes about it. People are mocking not only Conway and Spicer but Trump as well, the man who sent his underlings out with the impossible task of selling the unsellable. The result is a different kind of comedy consensus: the ridicule of the majority. A good joke may have the power to diminish the new Trump Administration, especially if it’s one it unwittingly tells about itself.”
Saturday Night Live, aware that Trump is watching, has been on point in its delivery and messages to Trump. After discussing the 30-second VoteVets.org ad (a really heart-wrenching ad, I have to say), The Atlantic delves into the most recent episode of Saturday Night Live (which, if you haven’t seen, please watch it).
“Saturday Night Live has learned from this situation roughly the same lesson that VoteVets.org did: The show is recognizing that it can be a platform not just for satirizing the president, but also for, more simply, talking to him. That recognition came to a head during SNL’s most recent episode—the one hosted, for a record 17th time, by Alec Baldwin. It was a show infused with a sense of its own influence over the doings of the West Wing, one calibrated not just to make its at-home audience laugh, but also to make its White House audience angry. It was an episode that had, like the ad that preceded it, a strong message to send to the president about the way he has been doing his job.”
According to Jezebel, a women playing members of his cabinet and press secretary is getting to the President.
“More than being lampooned as a press secretary who makes up facts, it was Spicer’s portrayal by a woman that was most problematic in the president’s eyes, according to sources close to him. And the unflattering send-up by a female comedian was not considered helpful for Spicer’s longevity in the grueling, high-profile job in which he has struggled to strike the right balance between representing an administration that considers the media the “opposition party,” and developing a functional relationship with the press.”
Keep it coming, comedians!