Intelligence Squared

Tuesday, November 27 at 2:00 pm

Trump Is Bad For Comedy

From the opening skit on “Saturday Night Live” to “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” to the pages of The Onion, President Trump has become the face of comedy. Some comedians and writers argue that in the Trump era, satire has become more challenging and jokes have become cheap.  Trump, according to his critics, has normalized the absurd and the nature of political satire in a post-truth world. But others disagree; they argue that the president serves up comedy-gold every day, making their jobs – and the laughs they seek to elicit – easier than ever before. And, they argue, comedy is much more “woke” than it used to be, with late-night hosts and comedians playing a pivotal role in the fight for social justice. Is the president killing comedy? Or is he making the funny business ever more relevant?

The Debaters:

P.J. O'Rourke
Political Satirist & Best-Selling Author
P. J. O’Rourke is a leading political satirist and editor-in-chief of the web magazine American Consequences. He has written nineteen books on subjects as diverse as politics, cars, etiquette, and economics, including his most recent book “None of My Business,” as well as “Parliament of Whores,” and “Give War a Chance,” which both reached number one on the New York Times best-seller list. He is a contributing editor at the Weekly Standard, a research fellow at the Cato Institute, and a regular panelist on NPR’s “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me.”

Sara Schaefer
Critically Acclaimed Stand-Up Comedian, Writer & Producer
Sara Schaefer is a critically acclaimed stand-up comedian, writer, and producer who has won two Emmy awards and a Webby award for her work on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” She has written for Ed Helms’s Comedy Central special, “The Fake News with Ted Nelms,” and co-hosted, with comedian Nikki Glaser, the MTV show “Nikki & Sara Live.” Schaefer has been named one of New York Magazine’s “10 Comedians to Watch” and one of HuffPost’s “53 Favorite Female Comedians.”

Kurt Andersen
Host, "Studio 360" & Best-Selling Author, “Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire”
Kurt Andersen is the best-selling author of three critically acclaimed novels. His non-fiction books include, most recently, “Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History.” He is the co-author, with Alec Baldwin, of “You Can’t Spell America Without Me,” a fictional Trump memoir. Andersen is also the host and co-creator of "Studio 360," the Peabody award-winning public radio show. Previously, he co-founded Spy magazine, a monthly satirical publication that frequently featured Donald Trump.

Billy Kimball
Writer & Emmy Award-Winning Supervising Producer, “Veep”
Billy Kimball is an Emmy award-winning writer and co-executive producer for the hit HBO series “Veep” starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus. He has also written nine episodes of "The Simpsons" and wrote the Academy Awards in 2016 and 2017.  In 1992, he executive produced more than 40 hours of live coverage of that year's presidential election for Comedy Central under the rubric "Indecision '92."

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