There are people out there for whom the Democrats’ battle to pick a candidate to take on President Donald Trump in 2020 will never be funny.
Those people are not on late-night television, which is probably going to prove a good thing. Yes, this is an important election, especially if you believe the norms of the republic are eroding quicker than Miami beachfront property.
But there’s going to be a lot of debating and campaigning from a field larger than a high-school glee club and without the saving grace of spangly outfits. There will be gaffes, and there will be illogic, and we’ll have to find a way to laugh now and again, if only to try to convince ourselves that things are sort of normal.
Also, those humor-averse people have never seen a presidential debate featuring Oprah-anointed self-help guru Marianne Williamson, who had her political coming-out party Thursday night and was mocked by Trevor Noah as a CBD oil proponent, by Stephen Colbert as the “crystals and bee pollen” candidate, and by Seth Meyers as someone who would work to repair U.S. relations with Narnia.
“Anyone curious what she means by ‘harnessing love,’” Colbert said, referencing Williamson’s plan for dealing with Trump, “do not Google ‘love harness.’”
Williamson, Meyers said, “rose up out of a lake under a full moon to be at this debate.”
And in that water birth, she was almost as strange to the political comedy crew as former Vice President Joe Biden was in his decision to stop abruptly in the middle of a rant defending his record, saying, “My time’s up, sorry.”
“Your time might be up,” responded Noah.
“You know it’s bad,” said Meyers, “when you’re cutting yourself off.”
Wednesday and Thursday, those comedians did their shows live, actually late at night, to cover the Democratic horde in real time, which is something they’ve previously been doing for things like election nights and assorted milestones of the Trump presidency.
And Americans got a preview of what the next 10 months will be like, comedically speaking, as the Democrats try to winnow their field down to that one glee clubber who can actually sing and dance at the same time.
Or maybe the metaphor should be the debate society because, yeah, these sequential group Q-and-A things — 10 candidates one night, 10 the next, four left out to wonder, as Meyers said, how they’re trailing Marianne Williamson — were sort of debate-like.
The stakes were high, Noah said. “With the election a mere 496 days away,” the “Daily Show” host pointed out, candidates “could go from, ‘Who is that?’ to, ‘Oh, yeah, that guy.’”