In a recent episode of his Stay Tuned podcast, show host and former US Attorney for the Southern District of NY Preet Bhara thought he was interviewing producer and director Judd Apatow on the problem with power in Hollywood. At the time, Harvey Weinstein was the big and only story on sexual assault and harassment. But, by the time the two sat down to chat, there were more cases on the books, and more harrowing stories to tell.
The chat quickly went to Trump, with Apatow commenting on Trump’s seemingly humorless demeanor. According to Apatow, Trump has been seen to smile, but never laugh. Perhaps it’s because he sees laughter as a loss of control, or perhaps it’s because he has no sense of humor. Apatow professes to think Trump had a harsh upbringing, certainly one not filled with laughter and believes it may be the basis for his total lack of empathy because, according to Apatow, to laugh one must be empathetic.
There are a few scholarly articles on the potential correlation, but a more readable article is the one by Scott Aukerman, author of the comedy Between Two Ferns hosted by Zach Galifianakis. Two of the shows more famous guests included President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Check out the episodes and Zach’s question if in watching Trump’s success Hillary might ever consider being more rascist, or as secretary to Obama how fast was she able to type?
Trump refused to attend his first Correspondent’s dinner. Is it because he felt he couldn’t deliver a joke?
Many claim Trump first decided to run when he was the butt of a Correspondent’s dinner joke cracked by Obama in 2011. Apatow was one of the writers of Obama’s jokes for the dinners, and in the Stay Tuned podcast credits Obama with a perfect sense of timing and delivery. Yet, it’s haunting to see Trump in the audience stone faced while even the Fox table was getting the jokes.
Prett Bahara commented that another person with no sense of humor is Mitch McConnell. Hmmm.
Twenty four hours ago, I may have written about the value of humor in politics, but today the funniest man in the Senate, Al Franken, is now also charged with sexual misconduct. That’s not so funny, and ethics investigations are likely pending.
Political comedy is a topic in and of itself, and takes an exceptional intelligence and grasp of the absurd. Judd Apatow, however, notes how he’s feels it has no real power as it didn’t change the course of more than one election. Or does it? Does it instead show how the poked politicians react and their own sense of humility and nuance? Does humor help us see a human side of them, and a lack of humor a lack of other key emotional states?
What is true is that in dark times, humor is always needed to help us not get too caught in the dire circumstances, but hold on to some lighthearted perspective just to stay positively charged and energized. So, this week’s hinge actions are on gaining some comedic moments. Here are some suggestions:
- Watch an episode of Superstore on NBC. No Netflix or HBO required. Best to start with the pilot and see how a band of oddly paired associates in what’s clearly Walmart bring various political issues to light with sincere empathy.
- Check out any episode of Between Two Ferns, but likely the one featuring Hillary Clinton. Hillary was sometimes ridiculed just for her laugh, but at least you can say you’ve heard it, which is more than Apatow can say for Trumpl
- See Hasan Minhaj stand in for Trump at the 2017 Correspondent’s dinner. He claims he got the job because a white guy didn’t want to do it, so he got the job as an immigrant. As he said, “We gotta address the elephant who’s not in the room…because he can’t take a joke.”
Have other suggestions? Let us know. We all need a little extra laughter every now and again. It’s why most of the best papers (NY Times aside) always made sure to have some comics.