Did you hear the one about the President of the United States having oral sex with Russian leader Vladimir Putin?
It’s a knee slapper. And there’s much more like it heading our way. The only question remaining, perhaps, is a simple one: How low can modern comedians go when it comes to our current Commander in Chief?
Hollywood’s hatred for all things Donald Trump is epic, and yet we’ve only just passed the marker for the President’s first 100 days in office. It started more than a year ago, a time when Donald Trump was one of several Republican candidates vying for the party’s presidential nomination. Louis CK called Trump Hitler. So did Sarah Silverman.
It was over the top. Outrageous. Yet, at the time, comedians were talking about a candidate. He wasn’t president yet. Even those who despise a particular president understand the office itself deserves some respect.
It’s why many people were aghast when Conservative Rep. Joe Wilson cried, “You lie!” to President Barack Obama during a Joint Session of Congress in 2009. Obama was the president, after all, and deserving of better treatment.
That was then. What we’re seeing so far from the brightest comedy minds with regard to President Trump is something else.
This isn’t Jay Leno teasing President Bill Clinton about his Oval Office shenanigans. Nor does it measure up to David Letterman mocking President George W. Bush’s often clumsy way with the English language.
This is pure, unadulterated hate gussied up as satire. And it’s not solely aimed at President Trump.
The past week delivered more than a few examples of this phenomena. TBS personality Samantha Bee hosted a Not the White House Correspondents Dinner on April 29, an event that targeted Trump repeatedly throughout the night.
Bee embedded her signature brand of “feminism” in her routine, offering up such gems as: “A giant p***y can get elected president, but as long as he doesn’t have one.” She also called Fox News’ Rupert Murdoch “a sentient liver spot,” which is pretty rich coming from a comedian who howled when her own network compared Hillary Clinton’s cackle to that of a hyena’s. Of course, profanity is nothing new for Bee, who kicked off her TBS show, Full Frontal by calling Sen. Ted Cruz a “fish-faced horses*** salesman.”
For her one-night-only Washington event, however, she used everything she could against Trump, including rumors long ago discounted by nearly every sane media outlet. “We are living in a Golden Age of journalism,” Bee said. “Unfortunately, that’s partly due to a golden president who’s rumored to enjoy golden showers.”
Bee’s shtick could be considered mild compared to what The Daily Show’s Hasan Minhaj uncorked later that day at the official White House Correspondents Dinner gala. Minhaj, a heretofore unknown comic, let loose with a series of nasty comments, the kind you’d never, ever hear about a Democratic administration. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos? “[She] couldn’t be here; she’s busy curating her collection of children’s tears.” White House advisor Steve Bannon? He’s a Nazi. Predictably, media outlets such as Vanity Fair hailed him for his insulting act, saying he “took no prisoners.”
And then there’s the latest comedy kerfuffle: The Late Show’s Stephen Colbert let loose with this Trump bashing line: “The only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s c–k holster.”
Had Colbert made his oral sex joke about President Barack Obama, Colbert would be the ex- Late Show host by now. Ironically, the only criticism Colbert’s crack is getting comes from those who viewed the remark as anti-gay. Never mind the disrespect the remark showed the office of the president. And yet Colbert is refusing to apologize for his remarks.
Now, some will argue President Trump has brought this on himself. He said crude things about Sen. Ted Cruz’s wife during the primaries. He lets loose with both barrels early and often on Twitter.
That was then, though. Since becoming president he’s modified his behavior (somewhat). But regardless of whether or not you like Trump or support his policies, he still deserves a modicum of respect simply for the position he holds (and even if he himself doesn’t always behave appropriately). Tease him. Mock him. Hold him accountable. But oral sex jokes? Really?
These “gags” don’t just reflect horribly on the joke tellers. It might impact their career prospects in a post-Trump world. Plenty of Americans, even those who didn’t vote for Trump, don’t think denigrating a sitting President is funny.