1 May 2011

With the teaching year coming to a close, I am happy to unwind a bit before plunging into the summer’s work.  What better way than to plunge in to the comedic stage that is American politics (courtesy of Donald Trump).

Lest you wonder the relevance of political comedy to this blog… my seminar class recently looked at literary comedy, discussing works by George Saunders, Graham Greene, Donald Barthelme, Danielle Evans, Sergei Dovlatov, George Eliot, Woody Allen, and Philip Roth (Lorrie Moore would have been an obvious addition to this reading list, but we’d already a few stories by her previously).  How does humor work in literature?  What’s funny and who decides?  How does the author control the humor, so that the reader is laughing at the right moments, for the right reasons, absorbing the intended nuances? Where is the author relative to the joke, the character, the reader?  Timing, narrative distance, voice.  In her interview with The Paris Review, Amy Hempel talked about schooling herself in stand-up comedy as a part of her writers’ education.

Among his many gifts and talents, our fair President is also a humorist in his own right. I suppose this is one of those things where, if you are an admirer of the President, you will find this brilliant and hilarious; if not, well… you can empathize with the visibly-irritated Donald Trump (who is I’m sure perfectly happy to have the camera turned on him).  I particularly enjoyed Michelle Obama’s good-sportness (in a subtly laugh-out-loud moment, we see her on video working in her garden with school children —  “Look, a carrot!” she exclaims) and the President’s obvious ear for language as he joked about Tim HOSEnee Pawlenty’s undisclosed middle name.

Incidentally, the President way upstaged Seth Meyers; I love Seth Meyers, but this was quite painful.

For a more serious look at Donald Trump’s impact on the political moment, check out Lawrence O’Donnell’s impassioned plea to NBC to reveal Trump’s intentions for the fall. [via HuffPo]