How Comedy Reacts
At the Anonymous Theatre in Chicago, sitting around a bag of chocolate, 10 comedians sat feeling not as funny as usual. They tried to chuckle about the recent election, but overall there was a feeling of uneasiness. Was the election not funny anymore? Had they fallen on serious times? At a time when the public looks to the humorous to feel better, the people who create that content weren’t as inspired as usual.
“I don’t think right after it happened people wanted to try out their best jokes,” said Wen Powers, a comedic writer. Powers writes satirical articles for online publications, and wrote one about celebrating the expected Hillary Clinton win. After getting his article accepted by popular website McSweeney’s the day before the election, the publication couldn’t run it after Donald Trump’s upset victory.
As news of the election results came in, there was a chaotic response from Clinton supporters and media outlets confused as to why polls and predictions had crowned her the winner. This affected the entire country, creating a divide between red and blue parties. To the people who are on the front lines of comedy, they are now nervous to attempt to alleviate their viewers’ sadness with laughter.
“They [comedians] have to address it, or else it feels wrong,” said Sarah Albritton, a stand-up comedian. Albritton hosts a podcast as well as performs stand-up, and she was apprehensive about promoting her latest podcast release so early after the election results because “it didn’t feel right,” said Albritton.
Popular satirical political shows like “The Colbert Report” and “Samantha Bee” were somber in their post-election coverage. Though these shows are coming from a humorous point of view, according to a study done by the Pew Research Center, many consumers go to these shows as “a source of news about government and politics.” Many of these shows lean toward the liberal party, and their upset by the election was very apparent in their post-election coverage.
“I hope the world of comedy sticks their feet into the fire,” said Powers about moving forward in Trump’s presidency.