Trumpist Comedy Is Integral Part of Circus of Cruelty that Entertains Ex-President’s Followers*

The former president has spent a lifetime using his showman talents to distract people from his crime, but he’s not joking.

The explosion of laughter in the Los Angeles theater on Oscar night lasted 13 seconds. Comedian Jimmy Kimmel, whom Donald Trump had attacked on his social media platform for his performance as host of the ceremony, said he was surprised the former president was still awake, adding “Isn’t it past your jail time?”

The audience was not just reacting to a witty, improvised joke. It was the familiar laugh of relief of getting the chance to ridicule a tyrant.

Six months before the 2016 presidential election, President Barack Obama blasted reporters whom he thought did not take Trump seriously and were demanding less substance from the Republican than Hillary Clinton. “This is not entertainment,” Obama said. “This is not a reality show.”

But it was and continues to be a spectacle, and the political press continues aimlessly. Given the proximity of the November election and the fact that Trump is virtually confirmed to run as the Republican presidential nominee for the third time against Joe Biden, the tone comedians take will be more brutal, just as Trump’s childish jokes aimed at Biden, or anyone who identifies as an adversary, will become increasingly cruel.

On Monday, Kimmel continued on his talk show to relish how irritated Trump was with the Oscar joke and ran a video in which an obese and near-naked figure bearing the head of Trump sits cutting his toenails in bed while Melania Trump vomits as she is hit by the clippings. It would be difficult to imagine, until recently, this level of ferociousness on an American broadcast.

It is equally difficult to imagine, up until George W. Bush’s presidency, a Republican who would let fly the artillery of vulgar scatology you hear today at Trump rallies and from his supporters in Congress. No insult is taboo. Annoyed by the response to Biden’s vigorous State of the Union address, Trump imitated Biden’s stutter at a rally, mocking the president who overcame stuttering as a teenager at great cost. And in doing so, Trump ignored the insult he delivered to millions of Americans with the same problem.

If laughter on the night of the Oscar is akin to the carnival-like culture that challenges authority and reverses roles, Trumpist comedy is an integral part of the circus of cruelty that entertains the cult that worships the former president. In every Trump speech (and they are ever more disconnected) the diatribes must be filled with bile against racial minorities, transgender people and especially immigrants, whom he describes with Hitleresque fervor as “vermin” that are “poisoning the blood of this country.”

Trump promises horror in melodious tones as if he were telling a bedtime story. Hate is funny, and the crowd, entertained, absolves itself of any compassion or of having any moral compass, isolated on planet Trump, where the violent people who were convicted in connection with attacking the Capitol are honored with the national anthem at the beginning of each rally.

Trump has neither a sense of irony nor the humor of Mark Twain or Millôr Fernandes.** But, what Trump is missing in the psychological armor he needs to withstand jokes from Kimmel he makes up for with his imperviousness to shame.

Jair Bolsonaro, Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un are useful clowns for comedians who want to make them appear ridiculous to the people they subject to utter suffering and death. In contrast, Trump has spent a lifetime using his showman talent to distract people from his crimes. In 2016, they said he was joking. He wasn’t and isn’t.

*Editor’s note: The original Portuguese version of this article is available with a pad subscription.

**Editor’s note: Millôr Fernandes was a Brazilian humorist.

About this publication

About Jane Dorwart 203 Articles
BA Anthroplogy. BS Musical Composition, Diploma in Computor Programming. and Portuguese Translator.

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