Comedy

Probably Not Helpful (#trumpstyle)

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

President Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump): "I will not be attending the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!" [via Twitter, 25 February 2017]

Frankly, this just won’t help. Meanwhile, The Hill reports on deteriorating relations between White House and press:

Bloomberg L.P., which hosts a high-profile after-party for the dinner, had pulled the plug on the event. Vanity Fair, which usually partners with Bloomberg in throwing the party, announced earlier this month that it would not participate.

The New Yorker, the magazine that hosts a kickoff party before the dinner, cancelled its event earlier this month, while CNN and MSNBC are also reportedly deliberating whether they will pull out of the annual dinner.

Trump’s announcement comes a day after his administration’s latest clash with the media.

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Something About Getting Trumped by a Girl

#trumpedbyagirl | #WhatTheyVotedFor

White House press secretary Sean Spicer delivers his first statement in the Brady press briefing room at the White House in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 21, 2017. (Shawn Thew/EPA)

This is interesting:

Melissa McCarthy portrays White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer in a comedy sketch on Saturday Night Live, 4 February 2017. (Detail of frame from NBC.)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.

“Trump doesn’t like his people to look weak,” added a top Trump donor.

It seems Politico wasn’t kidding. That is to say, the headline, “White House rattled by McCarthy’s spoof of Spicer”, now seems nearly quaint. CNN hit today with, “White House ramping up search for communications director after Spicer’s rocky start”, and The Hill piles on with, “CNN: Trump regrets hiring Spicer, blames Priebus”.

And we should probably tip our proverbial hat to DailyKos diarist Th0rn, who reminds:

First it was millions of women in pussy hats making Donald Trump squirm. Now it’s one woman in a wig.

In my world, woman does not equal weak.

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The Donald Trump Show (Somebody Stop Me)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump answers a question during the third presidential debate at University of Nevada Las Vegas, 19 October 2016. (AP Photo/John Locher)

“I don’t know, you tell me. You know what? Why don’t you ask Hillary if she cares that cows can’t digest corn?”

Bill Scheft

You know, it’s a lot funnier to actually attribute it to Donald Trump, but there isn’t really a good way of doing that anymore. There is, to the one, Poe’s Law; there is, to the other, Donald Trump’s easily confused legion.

But it’s the one funny line in the premature flaccidity. Nor ought we blame Mr. Scheft; flaccid is the way of the Trump, and pretty much all caricature of this emblematic strangeness extends into that range, eventually achieving its best expression as metacommentary considering Donald Trump’s seminal lack of viability.

Prematurity? Bravado? Mindbending foolishness? It isn’t so much superstition this time; rather, the fact that Donald Trump is the GOP nominee at all tells us there is enough wrong in the world that vigilance serves us best.

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Image note: Detail of photo by John Locher/AP Photo.

Scheft, Bill. “Donald Trump’s exit interview: ‘I just found out what the job paid. $400,000. You’re kidding, right?'”

Jeff and the Band Name

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 31 October 2016.It is a personal principle of humor that there is always a Jeff. Never mind.

I will say, however, that I know an age peer whose given name is Johnny, and one of my parents’ generation whose given name, apparently, is Jimmy. And you can damn well blame Adam for making that random slice of vignette relevant to anything under the sun.

Also, what’s the name of your next band?

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Image note: Detail of Bug Martini by Adam Huber, 31 October 2016.

Sean Hannity (Poor Donny)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (left) with campaign surrogate, FOX News host Sean Hannity.  (FOX News, 2016)

“I have had it. Thirteen freaking days. Wake up. This can be won. But it’s very, very hard. And I’m telling all of you who is important here. And basically every red state’s important. If you think, ‘well, my state doesn’t matter, it’s Texas,’ no, you better vote. ‘My state’s Georgia,’ well we’ve seen polls that are close in Georgia. ‘My state’s Utah.’ Who’s this idiot that’s running third party that’s killing Trump out in Utah. Who put him up? What was it? The Bush people? The Romney people? Seriously? Really? You’re going to elect Hillary because we lose Utah? What a disaster that would be for the country.”

Sean Hannity

This is just a distraction. Media Matters offers a glimpse into Sean Hannity’s not quite struggle to wear both FOX News and Trump surrogate caps. Two hats, one tongue, half a brain? Right. Seriously: What joke goes here? Are not the words, “Sean Hannity”, enough?

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Image note: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (left) with campaign surrogate, FOX News host Sean Hannity. (Credit: FOX News, 2016)

Media Matters Staff. “Listen To Sean Hannity’s Unhinged Rant Over ‘Idiot’ Evan McMullin Beating Trump In Utah”. Media Matters for America. 26 October 2016.

The Further Misadventures of Dinesh D’Souza (Blame Baby Blame)

Dinesh D'Souza (Detail of photo by JonesFoto, 2012.)“P.S. Obama turned out fine.”

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Salon is one of several newsish websites leading the field for overwritten headlines, for certain, but Mary Elizabeth Williams has a point in explaining, “Dinesh D’Souza, adulterous felon and disgraced academic, really embarrassed himself this time”.

Dinesh D’Souza isn’t just a convicted felon and adulterer. The filmmaker, right-wing pundit, defender of Donald Trump’s right to access beauty pageant contestants’ dressing rooms, and world’s most racist amateur comedian is also generous in his praise toward those who are in his estimation great judges of character―in babies.

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The Donald Trump Show (Burning Sensation)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump departs from a campaign event at Trump Doral golf course in Miami, Florida, 27 July 2016. (Photo: Reuters/Carlo Allegri)

“The political establishments of both parties brought about this war. Are they willing to swallow their pride to end it or will Trump have to do to the Beltway Ivory Tower what Sherman did to Atlanta?”

Joseph R. Murray, II

We might indeed acknowledge uncertainty as to why the thought of Donald Trump’s queer outreach administrator appealing to the burning of Atlanta with all the grace of a domestic abuser making excuses for himself might seem remotely funny.

“You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will,” General William Tecumseh Sherman wrote to Atlanta’s officials as he moved forward with plans to evacuate and burn the city. “War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out.”

Detail of 'This Modern World' by Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos, 15 August 2016.Less than three months before the presidential election, the political establishment and media elites are facing the “curses and malediction” of war of their own making. After years of being used and abused, the Silent Majority they muzzled is rising up and its voice is Republican nominee Donald Trump.

There is no doubt the protectors of the status quo see a threat in Trump. Why else does the media hang on Trump’s every word and pounce whenever they get a whiff of a salacious scent, no matter how faint? Why else has the establishment professed that Trump must change the very formula that resulted in him trouncing multiple Republican rivals―many of whom were thought to be the crème de la crème of Republican politicians?

The answer? Trump is winning this war to restore the Silent Majority and his victory means the pay for play power structure in Washington―enjoyed by both Democrats and Republicans alike―is about to come crashing down.

Maybe it has something to do with the vein-popping apoplexy about what reads like the embittered triumphal confession of defeat, as if it is all of the third week in August and already the time has come to start accounting for what pass as blessings or redemption amid the devastation of failure.

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Image note: Top ― Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump departs from a campaign event at Trump Doral golf course in Miami, Florida, 27 July 2016. (Photo: Reuters/Carlo Allegri) Right ― Detail of This Modern World by Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos, 15 August 2016.

Murray II, Joseph R. “Trump’s recruitment of Bannon means war and everyone knows it”. The Hill. 19 August 2016.

The Power of the Dark Sigh

Source Image: Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 11 May 2016. Modified w/apologies, of course.The setup speaks for itself.

With apologies to Adam Huber, of course. But come on, in a marketplace thriving on bad puns, how can anyone resist that kind of temptation? Just click, damn it. Do you feel lucky? Oh, right. Wrong film. Do not underestimate the power of the dark sigh.

“The Empire Talks Smack”, 9 May 2016

“The Empire Talks Smack — Part II”, 10 May 2016

“The Empire Talks Smack — Part III”, 11 May 2016

“The Empire Talks Smack — Part IV”, 12 May 2016

“The Empire Talks Smack — Part V”, 13 May 2016

We will, of course, update as remaining installments post. (Promises, promises.)

(Wow, we actually remembered to update a post. Yes, it’s surprising. Yes, that’s pathetic. Leave it alone, smackhead.)

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Image note: Detail of Bug Martini by Adam Huber, 11 May 2016. Modified w/apologies, of course.

The Donald Trump Show (The Duck Episode)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington, D.C., 3 December 2015.

“Satirical humor only works if it is punching up. Humor that punches down is just mean. A joke about Trump’s brain is amusing; one about an Alzheimer’s patient is twisted and cruel.”

Sophia A. McClennan

Playwright Neil Simon asserted that comedy is cruelty, a theme that serves well enough as a benchmark as long as we can figure out what it means. Sophia A. McClennen offers some definition, and while the point itself is reliable, whence comes its seeming obscurity? That is, McClennan offers a fairly clear standard, yet also incredibly simplistic, and in this case we ought not criticize the standard as wonder if the critic herself has somehow gaffed up.

The answer to that last, by the way, is no.

Still, we postulate the possibility because it really does seem like the sort of basic notion people shouldn’t need explained so simply. Why did the chicken cross the road? The audience suffers cruelty as the butt of the joke for overthinking it. The rape joke that isn’t a rape joke but instead a blonde joke or a cop joke? Pick your cruelty: Are all cops rapists? Are all blondes stupid? Are all women just there to stick your dick in their mouths? (Hint: “Not another breathalyzer!” is a rape joke.) There is the Sandbox Joke, ne’er to be repeated publicly, which heaps its cruelty on young children for having been born in dark skin.

Is dementia or Alzheimer’s humor ever funny? Perhaps there is an affirmative answer; the cruelty of how many surrealists it takes to screw in a light bulb is illustrative for its lack of abstract gravity―in the end, surrealists can’t complain and surrealism itself is inherently indifferent.

More directly, the heart of McClennen’s consideration:

Last October, Death and Taxes ran a piece wondering if Trump had dementia. They pointed to the fact that Trump’s father, Fred, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s six years prior to his death. They also highlighted Trump’s aggressive late-night tweets, his childish behavior, his name-calling and mood swings. They explained that it would be really easy for Trump take some tests and prove that he is mentally fit. “Because if Trump can prove he’s not suffering from a degenerative neurological disorder that has left him with a damaged mind devoid of all shame or self-awareness, he might just be an asshole.”

Now it may seem like I’m taking this in a flip manner and not respecting the real health challenges that face those that suffer these ailments. But that’s actually my point. I need to be reassured that Trump is indeed OK so that the jokes about him remain funny. Public mockery has been the only way to stay balanced this election. And, of course, the best jokes about Trump have come from political satirists because satire does more than poke fun. It encourages critical thinking in the face of blind acceptance. It doesn’t just make Trump look silly and stupid; it points out that he’s dangerous to democracy. It’s the difference between jokes about his orange face and jokes about his demagoguery.

Or, more directly:

Lee Camp’s Redacted Tonight reminded viewers that Trump speaks at a fourth grade level. That makes him, according to Camp, scientifically proven to be the dumbest candidate of them all. But Camp’s joke is only funny if Trump is talking that way to attract voters who respond to his simplistic rhetoric. It’s not funny if he really has lost the ability to speak like a healthy adult.

It is enough, to the one, hearing the people around me wind up their disgust: “He’s crazy! Why does Trump say these things?” And, yes, it would seem pedantic to suggest they answer their own question. Such as things are, the exclamation ought to carry some weight.

At some point, craziness needs to stop being the punch line. There are, for instance, his supporters, and then everybody else; it’s hard to discern the gray area, the in-between, the fence made for sitting. And everybody else seems to inevitably land at some version of Donald Trump being crazy. Perhaps it’s time we start taking the question of mental health more seriously? Not only would incompetence be, as McClennen notes, specifically not funny, it also seems a grave and necessary question in considering who should serve as president. The title “Leader of the Free World” might well be colloquial, but it also seems fair enough to expect the person we entrust with this duty should not be, at the very least, psychiatrically incompetent.

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McClennen, Sophia A. “Maybe Donald Trump has really lost his mind: What if the GOP frontrunner isn’t crazy, but simply not well?”. Salon. 25 April 2016.

Hopeless, Fumbling Elbow Jelly

Detail of frame from FLCL episode 5, 'Brittle Bullet'.

This is hopeless:

In one experiment, the researchers … asked nearly 5,000 people (ages 18 to 76) if they would consider dating a virgin. Most of the people in the study who’d had sex before reported that they would not date a virgin―but but here’s where it gets really interesting: An even greater number of virgins said they, too, would not date someone who had not previously had sex. Younger people in their 20s were particularly less likely to say they would date a virgin―even though most virgins were in this age range —and women were more likely to report not wanting to date someone without sexual experience than men. Virgins, in other words, were themselves not attracted to other virgins and, in fact, sexually experienced people were more likely to date virgins than virgins themselves.

(Basu)

Okay, as briefly as possible:

• The headline, “Adult Virgins Say They Don’t Want to Date Other Adult Virgins”, pretty much sums up the Duh! factor.

• To the other, while Science of Us blogger Tanya Basu does, in fact, note explicitly, “Once considered a virtue, virginity may now be more of a liability for late bloomers”, and while I do recall the punch line from Dennis Miller, late in his Funny Period, about the seventy-two virgins and eventually just wanting someone who knows how to slip you the finger, some manner of amazed insinuation about the time-tested corrupt-the-innocent fantasy value about the idea of virginity goes here. It is almost as if the idea of beggars demanding to be choosers just blundered face-first into one of the most bizarre side effects we might never have imagined, unless the time-tested corrupt-the-innocent fantasy value about the idea of virginity really was an empty trope that only I―and maybe, what, twelve other people?―was ever aware of? Never mind. It’s just that a, Wait, WTF? factor asserts itself.

• And, you know, honestly, I feel some need to stick up for sexual inexperience, here. Listen to me, virgins: If I’d just stuck with all the boyish fooling around, we all, for the most part, would be better off.α So, you know, really, use funny names and fumble embarrassingly through the best time of your life, because, you know, familiarity really does breed contempt, and if we’re lucky it’s merely spending our days lamenting how our partners can’t fuck just so. So get with yourselves and figure it out, because those of us with experience sure as hell haven’t done much by it. Seriously, here you go: Bungee spider web, olive oil, grape jelly, graham crackers, plastic pants, and a box of disposable frosting bags. What’s that? Don’t know what to do with all that? Neither does anyone else; the only rule is, have fun figuring it out. Seriously, expectation is the death of your sex life.β

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α No, really, the kid is the kid is the kid, but the rest of her mother and me getting ahead of ourselves was pretty much a disaster.

β No, seriously, all those embarrassing, awkward, failed relationships and it turns out I was gay the whole time. Who knew? Oh, right―everybody. Strange how they only get around to telling you later. Yeah, you always knew, which is why you never said a goddamn thing. Which was, you know, why? That’s right: Expectation. No, doesn’t mean you need it to the elbow, or anything like that. But, you know, fuck expectation. And no, there is no pretty way under the sun to take it elbow-deep, but you know, most days the only person who can tell you how ridiculous you look getting off with someone impaled elbow-deep into your body is the person who looks even more pathetic for shoving elbow-deep into another human being, so as long as that’s what you want, don’t worry about it. And, for the record, the rocket science of driving to the elbow is simple and twofold: (1) It isn’t rocket science, for fuck sake. (2) Not everyone can take it elbow-deep, so, you know, be kind, be decent. You know. For fuck sake.

Basu, Tanya. “Adult Virgins Say They Don’t Want to Date Other Adult Virgins”. Science of Us. 4 April 2016.