For a few years, I listened to the NPR comedy game show Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me – a tongue-in-cheek program that features a panel of dubious celebrities answering current-events questions to win prizes for members of the audience. The host is the razor-sharp Peter Segel. Sure, the condo prog politics bubbled under the surface; it’s NPR, after all. But it was generally so good – and so in line with what passes for political comedy these days – that it worked.
But lately – not coincidentally, for the past year and change – Wait Waiot‘s shots at President Trump have gotten flabby, predictable – really, cringeworthy. The sound of a staff of writers taking the cheap easy laugh, over and over.
It’s not just obscure radio comedies. Donald Trump seems to be making comics dumber:
…the Trumpian option in their comedy has rendered [Bill Maher, Steven Colbert, Seth Meyers and others] charmless while strikingly limiting their audiences to those who share their politics. I recently wrote a book on the subject of charm, in preparation for which I asked a great many people to name five persons in public life they thought charming. No one could do it. In a political time as divisive as ours, a public figure loses roughly half his following—and hence his charm—just as soon as he announces his politics. For an entertainer to do so is perhaps even more hazardous.
The whole thing is worth a read.