Saturday Night Live spent an inordinate amount of time lampooning Donald Trump and his associates.
From Trump to Melania, Ivanka to Sean Spicer to KellyAnne Conway, everyone was constantly on the comedy show’s radar. Of course, SNL wasn’t alone in the persistent anti-Trump barrage.
But now the late-night comedy show writers are coming to a realization which has caught them completely off guard.
They’re bored of writing about Trump non-stop.
While President Donald Trump’s administration has given them ample material for comedy, the consensus among some of the writers for late-night shows is that they’d prefer to not to have to cover it.
“I don’t want this job” was the general feeling among the writers who gathered Saturday at the Television Critics Assn. summer press tour in Beverly Hills for a panel titled “Has Politics Made Late-Night Great Again?” Panelists included Ashley Nicole Black, a writer for “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” Christine Nangle, head writer for “The President Show,” Hallie Haglund, writer for “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” and Jason Reich, head writer for “The Jim Jefferies Show.”
“I just find it exhausting. It’s hard to find it fun,” said Reich of the pressure to keep up with the constant news cycle generated by the administration.
“It can get really boring to deal with this same person provoking the same level of outrage with everything he does,” agreed Haglund. “To try to find a new way to go after that can be really boring.”
She pointed out that during the Obama administration, the show could go a week without using a clip of the President. Now, she said, she was surprised when she found one act recently that didn’t mention Trump’s name once. “It was extraordinary,” she said. “It’s exhausting as much as it is upsetting and boring.”
The writers said they do try to broaden their message to reach those who might not necessarily agree with their perspective, but agreed that it’s not easy in such a divided country.
“I wonder how much is preaching to the choir,” said Reich. “We’re not really going to convert anyone but we’re trying to point things out that people may have missed.”
“I truly do not know if there’s a way to reach the other side,” said Black. “Not in terms of content but in terms of straight eyeballs. People only watch certain channels and read certain outlets. We’re not going to put a ‘Full Frontal’ commercial on Fox. The real problem in our country is people in our country, their media diets are so separated.”
Attacking Trump incessantly has crossed over from comedic fodder, into total activism, which has caused the writers to become fatigued.
Writers don’t like telling the same story over and over, and the result has led to stale comedic bits on these shows, fighting for who can be the most anti-Trump.
And the shows that don’t participate get backlash; late-night host Jimmy Fallon received a deluge of criticism for not being harder on Trump.
Veteran comics like Jay Leno and Norm Macdonald agree that the perpetual Trump-bashing has become boring and bad for comedy, but it doesn’t seem to be slowing down progressives.
However, now that working writers on these shows are publicly voicing their discord with the anti-Trump directive, even if it’s in lockstep with their personal views, perhaps these shows will unshackle themselves and explore everything else that’s funny about society.