Donald Trump’s upset victory in the 2016 presidential election was the very definition of a surprise, and in the weeks since the election, late-night comedians have been producing a steady drumbeat of political material in response to Trump’s win. Humor was a staple of this election season (see this list compiled a few days before Election Day); now, here are some picks of the best political humor to come out of late-night TV since the election.
“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” (2015-present), Don’t Move To Canada Just Yet
Stephen Colbert had the dubious honor of hosting a live election night show, which took an unexpected turn as more and more states ended up in Trump’s column. But despite staying up on election night, Colbert was back on the air the evening of November 9 and opened his show with a 16-minute election monologue. Though doubtlessly produced by a reeling staff under tight time constraints, Colbert’s wide-ranging monologue managed to tackle everything from anti-Trump protests to God’s response to Trump’s win. Jon Batiste, normally a lackluster sidekick, even managed to inject an admirable quip into Colbert’s joke about his sleeping for “jazz hours.”
Though it mostly worked, Colbert’s monologue was not without its dark spots; one nonsense gag saw Colbert don sparkly cat ears, do a cat impression and then point out “seconds ago I was sad, but now … I’m a sexy kitty!” A cringe-worthy departure from the resigned wit of the rest of the monologue.
“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (2014-present), President-Elect Trump
John Oliver has emerged as one of Trump’s most vocal critics since famously declaring in late 2015 that he “couldn’t give less of a shit” about Donald Trump. Oliver dedicated an episode of “Last Week Tonight” to Trump in February, which culminated in the phrase “make Donald Drumpf again.” After Trump’s win, Oliver once again dedicated an episode of his show to Trump, this time trying to divine why Trump won and where America goes from here.
For the duration of the episode, a clearly perturbed Oliver gave a summary of the election while managing to make a joke or two. One delightfully bizarre joke grew out of a wider comment about the role of fake news in this election. After playing a clip from the “The O’Reilly Factor” (1996-present) where Donald Trump defended tweeting false statistics because they “came out of radio shows.” Oliver remarked, “‘I got it from radio’ is maybe the weirdest nonsense explanation I’ve ever heard. It’s like if someone said ‘this sandwich tastes weird’ and you said ‘but I found it in a hole!’ If there’s nothing wrong with it, what was it doing in a hole?”
As with most every episode of “Last Week Tonight,” Oliver’s argument concluded with a strong call to action for viewers to donate to organizations that champion, among other issues, independent journalism and LGBTQ youth. The episode itself ended with a montage of a diverse group of figures, including celebrities and a dog, requesting that 2016 should go f— itself.
“Saturday Night Live” (1975-present), Classroom Cold Open
Saturday Night Live’s comedic digs at Trump have drawn criticism from the president-elect in the past, and the cold open from the show’s Dec. 3 episode was no exception. The sketch depicts Trump retweeting “random (real)” people during a security briefing. Though the sketch’s premise is not especially cerebral, Alec Baldwin’s Trump impression, impossible lip motions and all, is in full effect. At the sketch’s conclusion, Steve Bannon, in the guise of the Grim Reaper, makes an ominous entrance, after which Baldwin’s Trump and the Grim Bannon announce “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!”
Following the show’s airing, the sketch led to Trump himself commenting on the impersonation. In typical late night fashion, Baldwin tweeted back, “Release your tax returns and I’ll stop. Ha.” If this sketch is any indication, be sure to tune in next for the response.