Alec Baldwin recently announced that he may, following SNL’s season finale in May, retire his Donald Trump impersonation. His reasoning: “I don’t quite know if people want to continue with that. If everything stays the same in this country as it is now, I don’t think people will be in the mood to laugh about it come September.” Or maybe we’ll just be in the mood to laugh at a different impersonation, at least for a while, declaring it the “eviscerating” takedown “we all need,” before we do a 180 and start questioning whether it in, in fact, what led to Donald Trump’s rise.
And soon we shall have exactly the thing at which to aim more frantically conflicted feelings about the effectiveness/funniness of Trump satire. Today, Comedy Central announced The President Show, a new weekly half-hour Trump spoof starring Upright Citizens Brigade performer Anthony Atamanuik that premieres at the end of the month.
According to a press release, on the show, the fictionalized Trump has figured out a way to bypass “the crooked media by hosting a late-night show direct from the Oval Office. No unfair questions from reporters, no awkward photo ops with German ladies, and no bedtimes. Just a fun show where he can put his unique Trumpian spin on such late-night staples as desk segments, field pieces and guest interviews.” His sidekick is, of course, Vice President Mike Pence, played by Peter Grosz.
In her critique of Baldwin’s Trump, Flavorwire’s own TV Editor Lara Zarum proclaimed, “New York-based comedian Anthony Atamanuik had been touring a much sharper and funnier Trump throughout the campaign.” Flavorwire also did an interview with Atamanuik about his impersonation; though it was before the election, when most of us were predicting very different results, the comedian was still considering ways to impersonate Trump without giving him power through comic representation:
It is always important that if I’m gonna get something from it, I’ve got to make sure to take something away from him in the process. I think that’s the only way to do him. I don’t think there’s anything beneficial about making him lovable or hapless or just sort of a joke.
And if SNL, with its somewhat under-written — though in my opinion, amusingly impersonated — 5-minute cold opens, can make Donald Trump feel threatened, who knows what 30 minutes of scathing, weekly attention will do to him.
So, could this be the thing that’ll break the curse of Trump-Can’t-Be-Satirized rhetoric? Could this be the thing that’ll inspire more think-pieces questioning whether it’s the thing that could break Trump-Can’t-Be-Satirized rhetoric? Could the smartest thing be to laugh at or lightly critique political comedy while ascribing actual weight to real, rather than symbolic, politics? Hmmm….
The President Show premieres Thursday, April 27, airing weekly at at 11:30 p.m., following The Daily Show.
Check out the first promotional clip: