Jimmy Dore: Television Comedians Are ‘Corporatists’ Who Are ‘Propping Up the Establishment’
Late-night television can’t get enough of President Trump. Whether it be Alec Baldwin’s incendiary impressions on “Saturday Night Live” or talk show hosts’ jokes, the new president regularly faces a wide array of ridicule.
Comedian and political analyst Jimmy Dore isn’t impressed. “Yes, you have to make fun of Donald Trump,” he told Truthdig during a live conversation Thursday. “But that’s pretty low-hanging fruit.” This fruit, he argues, makes up most television comedy and leaves little room for criticisms of the political establishment as a whole.
Dore was answering a question posed by fellow panelist Donald Kaufman, who asked why late-night comedians like Samantha Bee are “willing to make fun of the buffoons or the excesses but [are] not willing to attack the system itself.”
“If you’re a comedian on television, with your own show, it’s a pretty good chance you’re a millionaire, and you have been for a while. And you really like the way the system goes,” Dore answered. “And you don’t really want to upset the system. You don’t want to upset the apple cart … you just self-censor at some point.”
Dore isn’t alone — others have criticized mainstream media comedians of avoiding risk when it comes to dealing with politics. Jimmy Fallon, for example, faced intense backlash in September 2016 when he conducted a “softball” interview with then-nominee Trump.
During Thursday’s live conversation, Dore noted that Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart (formerly of “The Daily Show”), for example, are “brilliant comedians” but argued that many late-night hosts have stopped taking chances.
“Now it’s just kind of sad to me to see Stephen Colbert just become this mouthpiece for a Democratic, corporate establishment. If you’re doing such a less-inspired show to begin with, at least once in a while fuckin’ be progressive.”
“All the television comedians, they’re all corporatists,” Dore continued. “They’re all propping up the establishment. None of them are taking on the establishment or the system.”
Other big names in late-night comedy — Jimmy Kimmel, Conan O’Brien and Seth Myers, to name a few — regularly bash Trump. Contemporary political comedians — Samantha Bee and Trevor Noah, for example — toe the line between journalism and comedy and often prompt accusations that they hold back from adequately criticizing the Democratic Party in favor of ridiculing Trump and the GOP.
This raises questions about the purpose of comedy in the age of Trump. “Is it your responsibility to take on these issues, or is it your responsibility to make people laugh?” communications coordinator Sarah Wesley asked Dore.
“What comedy affords you the ability to do is to take the piss out of the ruling class,” Dore concluded. “That’s what we’re supposed to do.”
Watch a clip of the conversation above, and check out the full discussion here.
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