This piece was written for and read at Studio &’s “Action/Reaction” collaborative piece where “over 30 artists have added their reactions, perspectives and creative solutions to this collaborative art installation …” I present it here in a shortened version.
Play along with me for a moment. Set aside, if you can, all the suffering, present and future – human, environmental, intergalactic – so we can talk about Donald Trump as a comical figure. Take away the corruption and cronyism, the fear-mongering, the power grabbing, the bigotry and bullying, the xenophobia, and the fact that this megalomaniac is president. Take that all away and you have the makings for a hysterical comedy.
And Trump has absolutely no idea – zero self-awareness – which is usually the first step in making character-based comedy.
Think about your favorite fictional comedic characters. Chances are they, too, have very little self-awareness when it comes to what makes them funny to us, walking through life unaware that they’re hilarious. And while we who watch are rolling on the ground laughing, no one else in these fictional worlds understands that the thing happening in front of them is funny.
Now, look at Trump: He’s gaudy and tacky. He styles his allegedly-real hair to look like the world’s cheapest wig. Trump wigs in the Halloween costume section at drug stores look too respectable. And his embarrassing orange-trash spray tan looks like something you’d see on an episode of “Cops” on the swerving driver who is pulled over and discovered not to be wearing any pants. You take away this guy’s inherited money and he’s a raving lunatic sitting in a lawn chair at a neglected Florida retirement community wearing a worn-out bathrobe and house shoes.
This is a man who trots out the phrase “bad hombres” to a torch-and-pitchfork campaign-rally crowd and gets roaring adoration. And so he tries it out again on a nationally-televised debate, having to ignore the ridicule of basically everyone ever. But then, as president of the United States, he uses the phrase again while talking to the president of Mexico. That’s hilarious if it weren’t so horrifying.
Given this, I say we laugh at Trump for the joke he is. Nothing would needle him more than to not be taken seriously. Make it Trump’s next news conference, if the mainstream press isn’t barred in its entirety. Reporters could be a real-life laugh track. As he waves his arms and vomits illogical and frightening strings of words, the press laughs at him. He will in turn, rant and rave and spew more bile. And they will laugh even louder. What better way to make him insecure and ultimately ineffective, preoccupied with petty feuds that demean the office, than to turn him into a joke right to his face?
After all, what good will it do to play the game of reporter-politician? You don’t ask serious questions of an unserious man. You ask an unserious man unserious questions, questions like, do you prefer Cocoa Pebbles, Cocoa Puffs, or Coco B. Ware? Or, do you pronounce it “Woost-a-shire sauce” or “Wershersher shauce”? Or, why are unicorns hollow? Or, Grape Nuts: No grapes, no nuts, what’s the deal?
No matter what the press reports, even if everything was verified 100 percent accurate by nonpartisan library nerds in the most neutral pockets of Scandinavia, Trump would brand it “fake news” and label serious reporters enemies of the state.
So why not impose the worst possible punishment on Trump: Laughter? When he’s frothing behind a podium, trying to get everyone to take a bite of his baloney and Easy Cheese sandwich, reporters laugh.
Meanwhile, we continue to fight and resist. We stay awake and vigilant, we stay loud and forceful in our ideals and activism. Reporters continue to shine light, doggedly working, questioning the almighty out of his policies and actions. Tune in to John Oliver and Stephen Colbert and “SNL” and Trevor Noah. Because if we laugh, he’ll be too preoccupied to inflict even more damage on our country. His delicate ego will be too wounded, his flimsy masculinity too threatened; he’ll be too distracted to fully unleash his agenda of cruelty. It’ll be our best medicine until he leaves or, more likely, is escorted from the White House with a jacket over his hands.