Intelligence Squared US Debates: 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 and a national object of derision. But has the bombardment of Trump punchlines, impersonators, and even Trump-themed television shows been bad for comedy? Some comedians and writers argue that in the Trump era, jokes have become cheap, repetitive, and superficial, with constant bits on Trump’s tan and the size of his hands. And worse yet, Trump has normalized the absurd and the nature of 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 Trump making the funny business funnier and ever more relevant? Or is it time to table the Trump jokes?

Arguing for the motion:

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: 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 “Light 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.”

Arguing against the motion:

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 supervising producer for the hit HBO series “Veep” starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and a writer known for his work on “The Simpsons,” “Saturday Night Live,” “Cedric the Entertainer Presents,” and “Lateline.” Kimball was previously the original executive producer of “The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn” from 1999 to 2001 and the senior vice president and chief programming officer of Fusion TV. He was a writer for the Academy Awards in 2016 and 2017.











When: Thu., November 1, 2018 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Where: Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College
695 Park Ave.
212-772-4448
Price: $40
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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 and a national object of derision. But has the bombardment of Trump punchlines, impersonators, and even Trump-themed television shows been bad for comedy? Some comedians and writers argue that in the Trump era, jokes have become cheap, repetitive, and superficial, with constant bits on Trump’s tan and the size of his hands. And worse yet, Trump has normalized the absurd and the nature of 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 Trump making the funny business funnier and ever more relevant? Or is it time to table the Trump jokes?

Arguing for the motion:

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: 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 “Light 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.”

Arguing against the motion:

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 supervising producer for the hit HBO series “Veep” starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and a writer known for his work on “The Simpsons,” “Saturday Night Live,” “Cedric the Entertainer Presents,” and “Lateline.” Kimball was previously the original executive producer of “The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn” from 1999 to 2001 and the senior vice president and chief programming officer of Fusion TV. He was a writer for the Academy Awards in 2016 and 2017.

Buy tickets/get more info now