Comedians love to push back on the notion that Donald Trump somehow made their jobs easy over the past few years. Even those who made their careers on impersonating the 45th president of the United States are eager for him to be out of our lives forever.
Now that Trump is almost certainly on his way out of the White House, former Daily Show contributor and Nightly Show host Larry Wilmore invited fellow late-night host Seth Meyers on his new Peacock show to talk about how their jobs might change starting in January.
“America’s long national nightmare is almost over,” Wilmore said in this exclusive clip from Friday night’s show, “which for comedians means the task of processing that national nightmare into jokes is nearly over. Thank Jesus!”
The host began by asking Meyers if he feels a “personal sense of relief” since it was him and President Obama “dp’ing” Trump at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2011 that allegedly pushed him to make a serious run for the presidency.
“Yeah man, it’s a real trip,” Meyers said. “If you had told me when I walked off stage that night that people would still be talking about it almost a decade later, I would have assumed, ‘Oh, great, that’s how good I did.’” It says something about his ego as a comedian, he joked, that he still would have rather “killed and made Trump run for president than bombed.”
Wilmore, for his part, worried that Trump has “fucked us” as political comedians because they will never be able to summon the same “fire” for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris that they could for the current president. “Or do you just have to direct it at people like [Mitch] McConnell?” he asked.
Meyers compared Trump to a “heckler” at a stand-up show that the comedian can “crush” so hard that he ends up being the highlight of the night. “But if you’re a good comedian, hopefully the next time you go out you’ll be able to succeed without that heckler there,” he said. “So I feel like Trump’s been the crowd work heckler for the last four years.”
He added that his writing staff is ready to “flex their muscles and show to your aunt and your dry cleaner and all of the people who have said the comedy must write itself—we’re all desperate to show that we actually have been writing comedy. And hopefully, post-Trump we can prove it.”
In 2016, when Wilmore hosted Obama’s final Correspondents’ Dinner, he drew groans when he joked that it made sense for the president to hang out with NBA star Steph Curry “because both of you like raining down bombs on people from long distances.” Heading into the Biden administration, he worried that comedians will be too much in their own “bubble” to make similarly critical jokes about the next Democratic president.
“I don’t think it’s a bubble issue as much as I think it’s a target issue,” Meyers said. “Even the fact that Obama wore a tan suit and Fox News talked about it for a week, at some point the two people are different.”
What he was essentially saying was, no, the Trump jokes don’t “write themselves,” but comedians are going to have to work a lot harder to make politics funny when he’s gone.
For more, listen to Larry Wilmore on The Last Laugh podcast.