Late-night talk shows in the Trump era


Comedy Central

Alysa Lebon

Since the 2016 elections, the American public has followed the rise of late-night shows taking full advantage of President Donald Trump’s unpredictable personality. From monologues to impersonations, late-night shows have not held back; the president continues to react, which in turn allows this trend to flourish.

“Saturday Night Live” is the frontrunner for creating sketches based on political figures. When the show first introduced comedian Alec Baldwin as Trump in October 2016, the media went into a frenzy.

As Trump went on to win the presidency, “SNL” continued to entertain viewers with special guests joining Baldwin’s Trump, such as Bill Murray’s Steve Bannon and Beck Bennett’s Vladamir Putin impressions. The cold opens sent audiences into hysterics and the president into a tweeting rage.

With news of the impeachment inquiry, “SNL” wasted no time airing investigation-themed cold opens. Baldwin’s Trump received phone calls from a collection of characters, from Kanye West (Chris Redd) to Kim Jung Un (Bowen Yang). In the sketch, Trump hopes for a savior, and the sketch ends with Trump getting Liam Neeson on the phone.

Trump monologues have increased the viewership of late-night shows. “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver obtained over 35 million views for his episode on Trump’s financial successes and failures. “But the problem is even when you can demonstrably prove Trump to be wrong it somehow never seems to matter,” Oliver said during the episode.

College students are becoming a key demographic for late-night shows thanks to all of the political content. “Viewers can tell John Oliver has a Democratic point of view,” University sophomore Dipali Chand stated, “but he stills allows the audience to understand politics in a satirical and educational way.”

Late-night shows have an excess amount of content they can perform concerning Trump just from his everyday activities. Despite his antics, the president continues to act shocked and responds in ways that provide even more content for the shows.

Comedy Central
Comedy Central

Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Myers and Trevor Noah have sarcastic takes on the president’s tweets and actions. Kimmel referred to the president’s comments about getting a “moat filled with snakes and alligators” as “Gatorgate” and then proceeded to joke about how this was only the second-biggest news story. Meyers described the president as having an impeachment meltdown and Noah described Trump going from “a president to a spray tan Samuel L. Jackson [sic].”

While America watches the president face accusations of treason and corruption, late-night shows come ready every night with up-to-date jokes. This timely cycle keeps viewers coming back for more. Productions can reach thousands to millions of views within a day of the episode’s upload or premiere.

This amount of satire is something unique to this presidency and may never be presented to this degree again. While Trump is president, the cycle will continue to interest viewers and inform millions of people about the workings of the government through comedy. The more Trump continues to do outrageous things, the more producers and comedians will continue to entertain the public.