US Presidential Candidates Provide Grist for Comedians
LOS ANGELES—With the U.S. presidential campaign in full swing, the candidates are providing an endless source of material for actors and comedians to take to their own stages.
In Hollywood, a comedy show called “Candidate Confessions” is drawing crowds who enjoy laughing at the antics of the presidential contenders.
At the Second City comedy club, the musical performance pokes fun at the U.S. presidential candidates and President Barack Obama.
“This has been the most exciting, interesting primary season I’ve ever seen,” said writer and actor Erin Coleman, who plays Hillary Clinton.
Many of the show’s writers say the candidates, with their physical appearance and personality quirks, provide plenty of material for inspiration.
“Sometimes, it’s really easy because the candidates give you such gold,” said writer Josh Willis.
However, writing a fresh song about Clinton posed a challenge, admitted director and writer Rani O’Brien.
“That was the most difficult, just because she’s so well known,” O’Brien said.
Yet Coleman found a way to convey humor.
“She rolls her eyes dismissively, which I think is hilarious, when she just has no tolerance for fools and so she has a little eye roll that she does,” Coleman said. “She has a laugh that will come out at inappropriate times that we do in the number a couple of times. She can get crazy eyes when she is trying to emit human warmth.”
Lampooning the candidates
The writers of “Candidate Confessions” readily acknowledge they are lampooning the candidates, but say the comedy hits on some truths.
“All of these jokes come from a true place about the candidates,” said Willis, who is one of the writers of the Donald Trump song. “I think in some ways, we find truth about candidates through comedy in a way that we don’t get by watching them perform in speeches and debates.”
The Donald Trump song includes the derogatory comments he made last year about illegal Mexican immigrants, calling them criminals and rapists. Willis feared some of Trump’s remarks might be too offensive, but “most of that made it [into the song] anyhow.”
Members of the audience say political satire similar to “Candidate Confessions” is a part of everyday entertainment for many people in their 20s and 30s. This age group, known as millennials, grew up watching political satire on television and social media.
Millennials make up a good chunk of the audience in “Candidate Confessions.” Ivan Orlic is one of them.
He said that for some, such satire is their only source of news.
“It’s playing this really important role that some of the traditional media are failing to reach — the audience that satirical comedy can engage so effectively,” Orlic said.
Role of satire
Willis considers satire an important part of the American political process.
“There’s nothing like being able to poke fun at your politicians,” he said. “In a way, we also poke fun at ourselves, and I think that’s a really healthy aspect of this kind of comedy, too.”
O’Brien believes that if Clinton saw the show, she would like it.
“She’d just think it was silly, and kind of true and kind of not true, and she’d just think it was ridiculous,” O’Brien said.
As for Trump’s reaction, Willis thinks he might use a few colorful words, but in the end he would probably like the song about him.
“He said almost everything that’s in the song,” Willis said.
The writers say that as the political season continues, they will make adjustments to the show to keep it current.