Late last year, in a column titled “SNL’s Homophobic Trump-Putin Jokes Need to Stop,” our writer Kevin Fallon took on Saturday Night Live’s tired (and offensive) bits insinuating that President Trump is quite literally in bed with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
“Basically, I think, the joke isn’t a joke at all—at least not one particularly tailored to these two political leaders or with any sort of perspective on the situation,” Fallon wrote. “The baseline idea here is that guys in love is inherently funny. No other observation or ‘take’ needs to exist to elicit a laugh; it’s simply funny because they’re dudes. Dudes in love. Dudes who have sex together. Ha! (?)”
He’s right: There’s nothing funny about the Trump-Putin gay jokes. They’re lazy at best and homophobic at worst.
And SNL isn’t the only culprit. Stephen Colbert, while an undoubtedly nimble and talented political satirist, has made a habit of teasing Trump for having a so-called romantic relationship with Putin, with Colbert once branding the U.S. president “Vladimir Putin’s cock holster”—a crack that led to online calls for his ouster from Trump supporters.
In response, Colbert said, “I don’t regret that. I believe he can take care of himself. I have jokes, he has the launch codes, so… it’s a fair fight.” But then he issued a mini-mea culpa: “So, while I would do it again, I would change a few words that were cruder than they needed to be. Now I’m not going to repeat the phrase, but I just want to say, for the record, life is short, and anybody who expresses their love for another person in their own way is to me an American hero.”
But all the #FireColbert brouhaha, and his sorta-apology, hasn’t stopped Colbert from making these same jokes about the president. And he did it again on Tuesday.
During his monologue, the Late Show host addressed Trump’s verbal jabs at Democratic opponent Joe Biden.
“Trump marveled at how much press had assembled there to cover him,” offered Colbert, cutting to a clip of Trump comparing the press scrum outside the White House to the Academy Awards “before they got political.” Then Trump said of Biden, “I’d rather run against I think Biden than anybody. I think he’s the weakest mentally.”
“Do you really wanna open that can of worms?” asked Colbert.
Trump then hit Biden on his trade war with China, claiming, “Biden thought China was not a competitor of ours… Biden is a dummy.”
“Biden’s the dummy?” said Colbert. “May I point out: Only one of you is sitting on Putin’s lap with his hand up your butt.”
Get it? (And no, this isn’t just a ventriloquism joke.)
Now look, it’s tough to make creative jokes about Trump all the time, and policing comedy is a slippery slope. There’s also the matter of the Trump administration’s regressive, anti-LGBTQ agenda, which recently included the refusal to fly Pride flags from U.S. embassies abroad. (The Washington Blade came up with a handy list of all the major anti-LGBTQ actions the Trump White House has taken.)
Even so, these jokes are tired and homophobic. There are a million things to mock Trump about. You don’t have to resort to retrograde gay-fright jokes. Do better.