Does the World Really Need Stephen Colbert’s New Cartoon Trump Show?

Written for Acculturated

August 3rd, 2017

Donald Trump may have left The Apprentice in 2014, but now he’s back with his own T.V. show. Sort of. Stephen Colbert, that hallowed and trusted source of news for ten percent of adults, is creating a new parody show for Showtime that will follow the exploits of a cartoon Donald Trump. The problem with the show is that, well, it’s been done. Not in the sense that someone else has made that exact show already—an animated Trump show is original if somewhat bizarre—but the jokes that will undoubtedly make up the bulk of the show are already old six months into the Trump presidency. Trump jokes have become a crutch for many comedians and represent a lack of creativity that is unfortunately commonplace in comedy today. From T.V. shows like Saturday Night Live to radio shows like Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! Trump humor is as pervasive and predictable as it is obnoxious.

Making fun of Trump has become shorthand among liberals, a quick and easy way to show how enlightened they are. It’s almost turned into a competition, with comedians trying to outdo each other with increasingly vulgar and unfunny jokes. I see your Trump incest joke and raise you a Trump/Putin fellatio joke! The irony of comedians criticizing Trump for being lewd while making such bawdy jokes at his expense seems to be lost on them. I agree with the criticisms leveled against Trump for degrading the state of public discourse. His behavior is crass and unbefitting any public figure, but so is that of Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, Bill Maher, and a number of others. The excuse that they’re comedians while he’s the president is just silly. There are basic standards of civility that are applicable to all members of the polity. It is possible to disagree with Trump, even vehemently so, without sinking to his level. It may be your right to disagree with him, but it is your responsibility to do so in a polite manner.

While the ribald and uncouth nature of Trump jokes offend the moral sensibilities, their repetitiveness offends the comedic sensibilities. Trump jokes are uncreative. They’re unoriginal. At this point they’re as old and tedious as Harambe jokes. I want to make it perfectly clear that I am not opposed to making fun of Donald Trump. I’m no fan of his, and I believe that government figures deserve a bit of teasing in order to humanize them and prevent deification. I find the occasional Trump joke to be funny, but Colbert and many others in the entertainment industry are at risk of receiving a warning from PETA for post-mortem equine abuse.

Trump may be absurd at times, but his buffoonery represents a much smaller portion of what’s going on in the world than you’d think if you paid attention only to comedy. There’s a wealth of material out there to draw from, material that comedians overlook to score easy political points on Trump instead. In the process, they’ve inundated the pop culture landscape with Trump. He’s all over the news, all over Twitter, all over television, an inescapable presence promoted by the very people who claim they want to escape him. It’s like the old Knock Knock, Who’s there? Banana joke. We’re ready to hear Orange already. Comedians, just give us something different.