Late-night comedy shows fueled by US politics

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Since the 2016 election, more late night shows have been making skits based on the presidency of Donald Trump, and President Trump has now called for “equal time” on these shows.

Trump’s comments and actions, like his recently proposed tax bill, otherwise known as the “Cut Cut Cut Act,” and even minor tweeting errors like “covfefe” instead of “coverage” have fueled late night hosts in their creation of more political content.The shows with more biting commentary, like Stephen Colbert’s “The Late Show,” have surged in ratings over more neutral shows like Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show.”

“With Donald Trump’s victory in the election, comedians are starting to poke fun at him because it’s easy,” senior Hunter Hanstein said. “So many people thought the election was a joke last year that now they make the presidency a joke.”

Some may say going the political route is taking the easy way ou, but writers struggle to prepare for their shows as news is ever-changing in the political world. As seen in the election of 2016, many late-night shows projected Hillary Clinton’s victory, writers can no longer depend on expectations to drive their sketches. However, many writers of shows like “Saturday Night Live,” “The Daily Show” and “The Late Show” continue to integrate current political events into their shows. Known for its exaggerated portrayal of political figures, “Saturday Night Live” particularly has gained a large audience, with a current average of 9.9 million viewers per episode, according to Variety.

“It must be hard to keep up with political news and integrate it into comedy shows,” junior Iynkary Warren said. “There’s always something new to cover, especially with the Trump administration’s unpredictable actions.”

Comedy shows have been particularly poking fun at the current Republican political officials, including President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Vice President Mike Pence, alienating their more conservative viewers. Some are concerned by the projected loss of conservative viewers, but according to the “New York Times,” the content has allowed multiple of these shows to surpass others that pride themselves on their political neutrality.

“The hosts of a lot of late night shows are more liberal, so it makes a lot of sense that they’re making fun of Trump on their shows,” Warren said. “After all, their audiences are mostly liberal as well.”

Past presidents have also always been targets of late night hosts, as the face of the nation, but none to the extent that President Trump has. This may be due to his extremely controversial views on certain subjects, which allows shows to build upon the backlash that he receives. There has even been a show created called “The President Show” starring Anthony Atamanuik as Trump, in which a fictional President Trump records a weekly show to bypass the “fake news” and tell his own side of things. Shows ridiculing Trump have been increasingly popular and are projected to continue rising in the next two years.

“Donald Trump tweets about [late night comedy] all the time. Whenever “SNL’s” Alec Baldwin comes on and does a Donald Trump skit, you’ll see the next morning on how “SNL” is not funny,” Hanstein said. “I definitely think it makes an impact on real world politics, because it does pop up in the news very often.”

Though President Trump has a large following, late night comedy has made him the focus of many of their comedic sketches. While some believe this use of politics alienates some of the show’s viewers, it has actually propelled late night comedy shows to the forefront of television programming.

“Sometimes the political sketches can be funny; sometimes shows try too hard to make a joke out of everything, “ Hanstein said. “I definitely think there’s a grey area between what’s appropriate and what’s not, but a majority of late night shows end up bringing a lot of viewers because of it.”