The Republican Debates Aren’t Funny

I’m losing my sense of satire. While people around me eagerly LOL and livetweet the Republican presidential debates, exclaiming how great a prolonged Trump candidacy is gonna be for late night talk show monologues, I’m sitting here in front of my laptop with a growing sense of apprehension.

Do I care too much about this dipshit country to laugh about its berserk political leaders? Has my satirical sense been blunted by the tut-tutting liberal orthodoxy that chills dinner party conversations and turns every social media discussion into a finger-pointing downer?

I don’t think so. I’m just as funny as ever, goddammit. It’s reality that’s become hack.

People confuse awfulness with comedy all the time. I often hear our national zeitgeist compared to Idiocracy, one of the funniest satirical movies ever made. But Idiocracy wasn’t funny at all to the protagonist trapped in that fictional future. Ow, My Balls is a hilarious TV show to us, but if that were the only entertainment option available, you’d quickly despair.

Look at Trump. I hesitate to even type his name—I have a self-imposed Twitter ban on mentioning him. There's nothing funny about him; he’s anti-comedy. No, he’s even worse than that; he actively sucks comedy out of any situation in which he occurs. He was already a caricature of himself in the early '80s, already a lazy symbol of brittle, alpha male pathology. But my unfunny friends bring him up as if they’re unleashing a hilarious punchline just by conjuring his name. They say it and then make this face:

Trump is a played-out premise being forced on a victimized audience like a road hack gritting his teeth through one last gig before checking into rehab. Look at The Donald’s appearance on Saturday Night Live, one of the most screamingly unfunny things to happen on an already moribund program. Two pole stars of lameness, flop sweat rocketing out of their embrace and dousing all who witness it. The birth of a comedy black hole.

Saying that the current crop of Republican presidential candidates is “good for comedy” is like saying that a famine is a great way to discover new forms of roughage. There’s nothing life-affirming or soul-sustaining there; it’s just ghastliness as deep as you care to peer into that abyss.

I don’t want to laugh about these ghouls. It feels frivolous in the face of the death-worshipping ideology they represent. I’d like to make it through this corrupt era with both my humanity and my sense of humor intact. It’s one thing to think Ow, My Balls is a funny conceit for a show-within-a-movie and another to consider it quality entertainment in its own right. I can still tell the difference between the two, and I’d like to keep it that way.

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