Thursday night’s Democratic National Convention ended with Joe Biden accepting his party’s nomination with what may be the best speech of his presidential run: an electric call to action, profound acknowledgement of our nation’s grief, and as close to a “mad as hell” moment as we’ve seen from him as he pledged to lead our country into a stronger, safer, and sane new chapter.
It was shortly thereafter that this purported chapter began, with Zooey Deschanel and a Property Brother doing a comedy bit as a warm-up act to Diplo DJ-ing a virtual dance party in front of a White House green screen. Hmm.
This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by senior entertainment reporter Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.
The four-night DNC was a remarkable event, pivoting an alienating and self-aggrandizing political masturbation session into a sobered, astonishingly intimate hand and heart out to voters and hurting Americans. Biden’s closing speech was the clincher, the perfect time to call it quits.
But lurking in the shadows like the friend who forces you to stay for “one more drink” even though you’ve already called an Uber and suddenly it’s 3 a.m., you’re staring at a string of 17 texts to your ex while spilling the 40-piece nuggets you picked up on the way home all over the bed, there was this idea of throwing a “DNC After Party.”
I don’t know why I watched it (my editor asked me to), but I did. It was deranged. It was unbelievably corny and possibly not actually appealing to a single soul. Except me. I loved it, this thing that never should have happened, but did and was totally, gloriously, endearingly stupid.
Just the idea of it alone.
If you were reeling in the moments after Biden’s speech from someone speaking about the atrocities facing our country in rational, intelligent terms, if you were just completely thrown off your axis by stridence and dignity—hell, normalcy—standing in for the absurdity we’ve endured in terms of the presidency, well the DNC was looking out for you.
Don’t worry, the convention said. Here is an after-party DJ’d by Diplo over Zoom following a toast from Alyssa Milano delivered while choking back tears. Welcome back to surreality, and a political circus tent that makes you feel like you are losing your damn mind.
Like any great after-party, the music started 40 minutes after the event was supposed to begin, and only once a dozen or so speeches about political activism had been given.
Presiding over the “festivities,” a word that has never been used more loosely than in this moment, was Bravo host Andy Cohen, who promised that “tonight’s after-party is one last hoorah before we get back to work” and get Biden elected.
If there is any reason why this bastion of silliness worked, it’s because Cohen was the emcee. No one does infectious, unbridled enthusiasm better, delivering puns so groan-worthy they instead transcend and become, in his delivery, borderline brilliant. And he was having to put in the effort here.
The first guest was Democratic party chair Tom Perez, who added, “And for tonight’s purposes, chair of the Democratic after-party.” If there is one thing I wish for anyone reading this, it is that you could have seen my face after he said that.
Perez laid out the rules! Oh my god, the rules. These rules just need to be typed out for you to read. It’s a patriotic duty.
1. “Dance like no one’s watching, then vote like you threw out your back and need your healthcare.”
2. “It takes two to tango, and it takes 270 to win.”
3. “Nobody puts Baby in a corner, but, you know what? We can put Biden in the Oval. “
4. “Look both ways before crossing Kamala.”
5. “Give Trump the boot, then rally.”
6. “Fight for your right to party.”
A Trump-themed “boot and rally” joke at a Democratic National Convention after-party? Be still my trash-bag, cornball heart.
What followed was about 30 more uninterrupted minutes of a random assortment of celebrities doing little comedy bits and making appeals to campaign for Biden. It was relentless and exhausting and kind of just a poor man’s version of what we had just spent four nights watching. But it was also super-diverse, gay, and campy, so I cherished every second.
Jaime Camil, of Jane the Virgin fame, recapped the week as a telenovela—or, as he called it, “a teleJoevela.” Get it? I thought it was cute and actually really clever. Have I attracted some sort of DNC Stockholm Syndrome? I’m blinking three times for help, but in the meantime swooning over how hot and charming Camil is while doing this bit.
Iron Chef Cat Cora and her activist and music producer wife Nicole Cora introduced a menu of delicious-seeming snacks and cocktails, which I first thought was rude considering I was just eating Ritz crackers out the sleeve and drinking old red wine out of a box—and then I knew was rude when I discovered that their “No Malarkey Nachos” was made with pita chips?!?!
Then there was the Zooey Deschanel and Property Brother thing, followed by a thing from Grey’s Anatomy’s Jason George, and then a really funny thing from Aubrey Plaza, and then a confusing thing from figure skater Michelle Kwan. Joe Biden Skyped in with a pre-taped message and a joke about all the ice cream he eats. Still, nowhere to be heard, was any music or dancing.
It happened eventually, as Diplo arrived with a tongue-in-check set in front of a green screen that made it look like he was spinning records from the White House lawn, at which point I danced my way over to the computer to write this so I could go to bed.
Thinking back, I’m not entirely sure what exactly it was I watched, or what purpose it was meant to serve. A press release promised “curated content that includes a call to action to bring awareness to important issues and to engage voters,” which, wow, what a party... and I guess is what this was.
I delight in the randomness of these things. I also understand that the vast majority of people have had it up to here [I am raising my hand high above my head] with celebrity-driven political hijinks.
Given that palpable exasperation, it’s confusing that the DNC read the room and thought “maybe we should do more of that.” But the harmlessness of this after-party thing doesn’t quite deserve the ire when lumped in with the more egregious Hollywood-meets-Washington efforts.
What we all deserve, however, is Tom Perez to hone a tight five. “Give Trump the boot, then rally.” I’m still losing it over those rules.