WASHINGTON DC – Frustrated that real life increasingly negates the function of satire, humorists are taking their craft to the world of politics.
“Voters have been commenting on how surreal this election season has been, like how it writes itself,” said standup comedian Dale Bridger. “Surely you didn’t think this level of absurdity just happens.”
Bridger is referring to the growing corps of comedians and comedy writers who have fled the entertainment market to develop ongoing episodes of Election 2016, the reality show format so new and changing that it doesn’t yet have a name.
“It’s been easy to get on with various campaigns,” said Myra Nash, a writer who used to work on hit sitcoms. “You don’t even have to be with the presidential candidates. There’s plenty of corporate cash to go around, and endless material.”
Nash is referring to the bizarre, unfathomable actions and statements made by politicians across the board. “Pick a subject. Guns, immigration, economy. Instead of them saying something mildly controversial and then we make fun of them, we just have the good stuff pop right out of their mouths.”
Bridger points to a turning point between 2012 and 2014 where the election cycles became “too weird” for him and his colleagues to keep up.
“The 2000s were crazy, but stable in terms of how to work the angles. Then Obama got in, and the Tea Party went full derangement mode. It was hard, because how do you ridicule something that’s doing most of the work for you? But then, 2015 happened.”
Bridger and Nash refer to Donald Trump’s entrance into the presidential race as “The Trumpening,” an epochal event that separated everything that came before from everything after.
The political landscape got so weird that comedians had a hard time translating it into relevant material. By the time there were a dozen candidates running for president, Nash and Bridger knew something was up. They contacted friends and discovered that several of them had signed up as writers.
“Not just speech writers. They were scripting entire campaigns,” said Nash. “We definitely wanted in on that.” Due to strict nondisclosure agreements, the pair cannot reveal what words or actions were bits that they wrote, but she assures voters that she and Bridger took part in “many of the howlers you’ve seen shared on Facebook.”
Some of the more amusing moments, Bridger contends, came from writers who had worked in pro wrestling. The art of presenting contenders as heroes or villains, sometimes each in succession, in the context of a fake conflict, fit perfectly with the theater of Washington.
As for the actual result of the 2016 elections, Bridger and Nash are more solemn.
“Nothing’s really going to change,” said Bridger. “That’s all been decided already by the higher-ups. Our job is to keep regular people gnawing at each others’ throats so nothing meaningful gets done. And they pay us quite well to do it.”