I miss seeing Alex Wagner on MSNBC. She has one of those mega-watt smiles that is infectious. Alex has landed at the Atlantic and wrote a swell piece on the first debate and Presidential humor: Does Trump Know How To Laugh? She makes an important point about Trump:
Granted, a lot has been made of Hillary Clinton’s sense of humor—her laugh is shrill, too many of her jokes have seemed too prepared for far too long. But undoubtedly, at the first presidential debate on Monday, it was confirmed: Her sense of humor exists! And this mattered, because humor showed Clinton to be as self-aware as she was serious, and served to isolate Trump, making him seem like an angry spider caught in a tangled dystopia of his own construction.
This isn’t to say that Trump can’t get laughs. It’s simply that when he gets them, he’s humiliating people—whether “Low Energy” Jeb Bush, “Lyin” Ted Cruz or “Little” Marco Rubio. Humor borne out of cruelty happens to be the easiest and therefore lowest form of comedy: It is cheap stuff and it does not elevate the candidate, nor make him a more fundamentally sympathetic character. And when Trump does manage to grab laughs, his smile is a forced, flat line—a concession to facial spasm more than a natural expression of amusement or mirth.
Trump cannot joke about himself. He can only laugh at the expense of others. That’s why I call him the Insult Comedian: he has a funny delivery but cannot laugh at himself. There’s nothing quite as charming as someone who can make fun of themselves. Trump is capable of self-exaltation, not self-deprecation. It’s the sign of the jerk.
As to Alex’s point about Hillary. There’s nothing wrong with having joke writers as long as most of the gags land and one can laugh at one own’s clinkers, which was part of Johnny Carson’s genius. HRC’s demeanor at the debate was impressive: she resisted the urge to roll her eyes or pound the podium. Instead she took a different tack:
Clinton, perhaps more than at any time this campaign (excepting her recent appearance with Zach Galifianakis on Between Two Ferns) was relishing in a sort of comic levity, made initially evident in this exchange:
Clinton: I have a feeling that by, the end of this evening, I’m going to be blamed for everything that’s ever happened.
Trump: Why not?
Clinton: Why not? Yeah, why not?
Hey, why not? Therein began Clinton’s meta-routine, which was comprised not of laff lines, per se, but a series of joking asides that amounted to a rhetorical subtweet for the audience at home: Can you believe this guy?
Trump: And I think I did a great job and a great service not only for the country, but even for the president, in getting him to produce his birth certificate.
Holt: Secretary Clinton?
Clinton: Well, just listen to what you heard.
You could almost hear Clinton elbowing moderator Lester Holt in Dangerfield-esque disbelief, as if to say, Can you getta load of this one?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: “Just listen to what you heard” is to the 2016 debates what “There you go again” was to 1980 and “Please proceed, Governor” was to 2012. If it was scripted, it was pure genius. If not, no wonder she did the Clinton Shimmy:
Was Shaq there too? I completely missed the greatest hoopster in LSU history. I know what some of y’all are thinking: It was Pistol Pete Maravich. You might be right but did he ever shimmy like that? Besides, this is neither the time nor place for *that* debate.
Now that I’ve made LSU hoops jokes, here’s the Clinton Shimmy side-by-side with the Insult Comedian:
Trump knows he lost the debate despite the 4chan and reddit shitbirds stuffing the online ballot box. That’s why he looked angry the entire debate and has been making lame schoolboy excuses ever since. Blame Lester. It was the microphone. She was over-prepared. The dog ate my homework. If he weren’t 70 years old, he might have even tried the old my grandpa/grandma died dodge. I grew up with a kid who must have had 16 grandparents die over the years and they all kicked the bucket right before a test.
This string of ludicrous excuses reinforces the notion that he’s unfit to be President. Everyone fails from time-to-time: the real WINNERS bounce back without whining and pointing the stubby finger of blame.
The funniest thing that happened the day after the debate was a tirade by the artist formerly known as Mayor Combover:
If I were Donald Trump I wouldn’t participate in another debate unless I was promised that the journalist would act like a journalist and not an incorrect, ignorant fact checker.
Those mean old facts will get you every time, right Mayor 9/11? Rude Rudy also said this:
“The president of the United States, her husband, disgraced this country with what he did in the Oval Office, and she didn’t just stand by him, she attacked Monica Lewinsky,” Giuliani said in video posted to on social media by a website focused on coverage of millennials. “And after being married to Bill Clinton for 20 years, if you didn’t know the moment Monica Lewinsky said that Bill Clinton violated her that she was telling the truth, then you’re too stupid to be president.”
Remember what I said about glass houses the other day? This from a man who had an affair while Mayor, then dumped his wife for his mistress. I guess that makes him smart even if he thought Trump deserved congratulations for not mentioning Bill’s indiscretions, which is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Repeat after me: if you live in a glass house, don’t throw stones.
I predicted a meltdown right after the Insult Comedian lost the debate to a girl:
I was only wrong about the forum. Trump’s Toddler Tantrum took place on Fox News, which is where all wingnuts go to lick their wounds and tell fat chick jokes. Just once I’d love to hear some self-mockery from the short fingered vulgarian, but I know it will never happen. That is yet another reason why Donald Trump will NOT be the first Insult Comedian elected President. Instead, he’ll be the losingest loser that ever lost.
I keep alluding to the late Peter Tosh’s song Glass House so I’ll give him the last word. Besides, a Rastafarian would scare the living shit out of your average Trumper.