Is Hollywood FINALLY getting the message from the fed up American people?
After tanking ratings, boycotts and, and backlashes, two new Netflix comedians are vowing to avoid anti-Trump and political vileness.
From Washington Times
What do “The Tonight Show,” “The Daily Show,” “The Late Show,” “Full Frontal” and a raft of other late-night TV talk shows have in common (besides left-leaning hosts, that is)?
Answer: Donald Trump. Or, more precisely, a penchant for mocking, satirizing or otherwise mining comedy from the 45th president of the United States — often with limited success.
That makes Netflix’s latest entrants in the genre all the more notable. The streaming service is offering a pair of late-night talkers who vow to put humor first and partisan politics a distant second.
“The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale” kicked off last month with an episode devoid of Trump bashing — quite a feat for Mr. McHale, who developed his brand of smarmy left-of-centerism as host of E network’s “The Soup” and deployed it as master of ceremonies of the 2014 White House Correspondents Dinner.
Even more surprising is an upcoming talk show hosted by rising comic star Michelle Wolff, a former writer for “The Daily Show” and the headliner for this year’s White House Correspondents Dinner, where the sitting president — regardless of party — typically is the object (and deliverer) of jokes.
Netflix’s press release for Miss Wolff’s show said it “will take a break from the seriousness of late night comedy. Instead of making the news fun, she’ll make fun of everything and everybody. There will be no preaching or political agenda … unless it’s funny.”
But don’t think Netflix’s move signals that comics have burned out on Trump gags less than two years into his presidency, said conservative pundit and touring comic Chad Prather.
Mr. Prather said some audiences legitimately crave politics-free banter. Others still clamor for ideological yuks, though. He shares his right-leaning views on social media and via PoliticalCowboy.com but keeps his stand-up show mostly apolitical, hitting both sides of the aisle along the way.
That’s not enough for some conservative fans.
“I have people saying, ‘I wish you had done more political stuff.’ They don’t feel like they have a voice,” said Mr. Prather, who hosts his own talk show on PodcastOne. “Everyone on both sides is begging for someone to tell their story.”
Another factor is at play: Audiences want their ideological foes to get a whupping, he said.
“It’s a strange feeling, like pouring salt on the fields where nothing will ever grow again,” Mr. Prather said.
Stephen Colbert’s take-no-Trump-administration-prisoners tactics on “The Late Show” on CBS have made him the new king of late-night comedy/commentary. Ratings have risen for ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” possibly because of its namesake’s increasingly partisan presentation.
Lou Perez, head writer and executive producer of “We the Internet TV,” says modern talk shows offer viewers a comfort level they have come to expect, much like with classic sitcoms.
“If I watch an episode of ‘Cheers,’ there’s something there for me to enjoy,” said Mr. Perez, whose online sketch show attacks the left and the right.
Making fun of Mr. Trump offers select talk show viewers a similar sense of ease, he said, adding that doesn’t necessarily mean that Mr. McHale and Miss Wolff are headed for failure in the realm of the unknown.
“If there’s a desire for escapism out there from late-night talk shows, the escapism is rooted in originality and wanting something new,” Mr. Perez said. “Everyone is dipping into the same well [now]. It runs the risk of turning a hilarious comedian into an OK comedian.”
Jeffrey McCall, professor of media studies at Indiana’s DePauw University, said the very nature of our unorthodox president means three more years of talk show put-downs.
“For one thing, Trump provides a constant stream of potential comedy content with his tweets and public statements,” Mr. McCall said. “Trump’s pronouncements are not intended to create humor, of course, but comedy writers can take advantage of the frequent Trump comments for comedic spin.”
Mr. Colbert and company also have minted their shtick over the past year in a decidedly partisan fashion, he said. Undoing that approach isn’t easy, and it could threaten careers, he added.
“If Colbert or Kimmel or [‘The Daily Show”s Trevor] Noah were to back off of their constant Trump jokes, they would appear to their anti-Trump fans to be caving to moderation,” he said.
Mr. McCall said late-night humorists now consider themselves part of the pundit class. Witness Mr. Kimmel’s frequent monologues, in which the jokes are few and far between.
“Their political perspectives are now part of their fabric, so they can’t just betray their personal attitudes by backing off of Trump,” he said.
These new Netflix shows may change course and start zinging Mr. Trump like their peers. The tall task in that scenario, said Mr. Perez, is finding something fresh to say along the way.
“You’ve got to make fun of the administration and what’s happening,” Mr. Perez said. “How can you be original about it? That’s the challenge.”