- - Wednesday, August 16, 2017

President Trump has been a gift from the comedy gods to professional comics. But not only lefty jesters are enjoying a field day as comedians on the right are extracting nuggets of hilarity from that goldmine, too.

Mr. Trump’s appearance, demeanor and spoken and tweeted tirades arguably offer detractors easy — some might even say too easy — and tempting targets.

“You just have to laugh at how ridiculous it is,” said 31-year-old Trae Crowder, a Tennessee comedian known as the “Liberal Redneck.” “Trump has made it very clear how thin-skinned he is when it comes to ridicule. Lots of previous presidents publicly tried to tune that stuff out and not be affected by jokes.

Trump hates appearing buffoonish, which he is,” Mr. Crowder said. “He’s the poster child for being able to dish it out but not take it — one of the least desirable character traits.”

Trump is pissed off every time someone makes fun of him because he doesn’t have that philosophy of the leader is only a public servant, not a god or father figure,” said Bassem Youssef, known as the “Egyptian Jon Stewart” due to his satirical news show, “El Bernameg” (“The Program”). “That’s why he reacts very fiercely to satire.”



Mr. Youssef, who had to flee Egypt’s military takeover by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, is also no fan of Mr. Trump’s apparent cozying up to authoritarians such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Meanwhile, Pakistani-American comic Mona Shaikh mocks Mr. Trump during her routine, calling him “Orange Hitler” and “Hitler 2.0.”

Miss Shaik, who produces “Minority Reportz,” showcasing mostly female nonwhite comedians at L.A.’s Comedy Store, also takes to task the president’s well-known penchant for “rating” women.

“He rates women as a ‘three’ or ‘four.’ Has he looked in a mirror?” she said.

Regarding Saturday’s clashes between white supremacists and counterprotestors — as well as the president’s delayed, flubbed attempt to distance himself from the so-called “alt-right,” Miss Shaikh said, “You can’t be an American and a Nazi at the same time. They don’t go together.

“The fact that Trump came out and said ‘many sides’ are to blame — what are you talking about?” she said. “You don’t see other ethnicities marching in the streets saying ‘white lives don’t matter.’”

However, at the other end of the satirical spectrum, the president and Republicans have their droll defenders as well. Stand-up comic and author Evan Sayet, who writes for TownHall.com, decried former President Barack Obama’s push for dignity and propriety even in dangerous times.

“My feeling about Donald Trump is … he fights,” Mr. Sayet said.

Mr. Sayet, a New York-born Jew, was once liberal but says his ideology changed upon observing liberal talking points in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and “the idea that we deserved them … that the way to avoid further attacks was to be nicer to terrorists.”

“It’s important that the left be ridiculed because, in no small part, they’re ridiculous,” Mr.

Sayet, who has written material for both Bill Maher and Arsenio Hall, said. “The culture is overwhelmingly leftist. If it’s not left of center, it’s not going to be” paid attention by Hollywood, he believes.

Mr. Sayet points to what he believes is a preponderance of liberal late-night comics, among them Mr. Maher, Stephen Colbert and Samantha Bee, with having a platform, whereas conservative comedians do not.

“Half the country is underserved,” said Mr. Sayet, who penned the book “The KinderGarden of Eden: How the Modern Liberal Thinks.”

However, one of his colleagues, “Ellen DeGeneres Show” staff writer Adam Yenser, believes humor surpasses partisanship.

“You have to be funny first,” he said. “If you can get people to laugh at it, to see the absurdity or what’s funny about it, it will make them more open to another point of view rather than coming at them with ideology first.”

During Mr. Obama’s reign, the conservative-minded Mr. Yenser enjoyed trying to win audiences over one one-liner at a time. But Mr. Trump’s administration presents him with much bigger challenges.

“He’s Republican, so conservatives see some positives compared to liberals, but Trump isn’t a traditionally conservative person, and his policies aren’t all conservative,” Mr. Yenser said. “It’s interesting trying to present conservative views in a comedic way while differing yourself from the attacks liberal comics make against Trump.

“You still want to be a satirist and go after Trump [but] from a conservative point of view.”

But do jokes about the president — whoever is in office — really change people’s minds or simply reinforce their already established prejudices on the chief executive?

“[Humor] serves a very important function, but I don’t think it changes many people’s minds,” said Mr. Crowder.

However, he finds Mr. Trump’s claim that he’s “more presidential” than all of his predecessors — except Lincoln — risible.

“You can’t help but laugh at such a ridiculous statement,” he said, “but it’s also concerning.”

“I care about deeds — that the economy is booming, [Bashar] Assad is not using poison gas [in Syria], we’re standing up to North Koreans instead of kowtowing to them,” said the right-leaning Mr. Sayet. “[Mr. Trump‘s] words do sometimes bother me, but I care about deeds.”

At the same time, Mr. Trump’s threats, such as “fire and fury” against Pyongyang, are no laughing matter.

“This guy wants war [which would be] the only thing that’s going to secure his spot for the next four years,” said Miss Shaikh, the Pakistani-American comedian.

Mr. Crowder, the Liberal Redneck, said that while the 45th president has provided he and his colleagues with endless material, there is often something distinctly unfunny about the current White House occupant.

Trump the man is easy to laugh at. But Trump, the U.S. president, is way more terrifying than he is funny, in a worrisome, incompetent way,” Mr. Crowder said. “The dread definitely outweighs the humor to me.”

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