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Hi, folks, it's Rick Wilson and welcome to The Daily Beast, the new abnormal. Hi, I'm Molly John Fast, a left wing pundit and editor at large at The Daily Beast.
I'm also an editor at The Daily Beast, a former Republican political strategist, best selling author and full time troublemaker. We're here to have fun, sharp conversations with some of the smartest people in media, politics, business and science that help make what's happening in the country and the world clearer.
I'll try to keep Rick to the minimum number of F bombs and try to keep our kids, pets and other wildlife sounds from invading our respective bunkers.
Matt Wilstein is the senior writer for The Daily Beast, covering the intersection between politics and pop culture, as well as the host of The Daily Beast, The Last Laugh podcast. Hi, Matt Wilstein. Hi, Molly. How's it going? You know, I try not to die. It's good. Can I say that on the podcast? Yes, I can say that on the podcast. We're all trying not to die.
Yes, everyone's trying not to die every day. That's right. That's what it's all about. So talk to me about political comedy.
Well, it's been a year, hasn't it, for everything, but for political comedy. Absolutely. I mean, I spent a lot of my time at The Daily Beast watching and writing about and interviewing people who do political comedy, whether it's the late night shows or, you know, really anything. But it's just it's been a it's been a pretty crazy year. But I think the one thing that's really, like, stood out to me above everything else is this like kind of new ish form of aggressive, confrontational political comedy that that's come out this year.
And, you know, thinking about Borat obviously is sort of like the big one, which I know you quite enjoyed the Borat sequel, right?
I love him and I love that he targeted Michael. Well, I really Rudy Giuliani, but also Michael Pinas.
Yeah. Michael Panis. Yeah. Yeah. So, yeah, I mean, I'm just a huge Sacha Baron Cohen fan going way back. And I interviewed him on my podcast when he was doing Who Is America, which was another show that I loved. And then I'm actually about to have I just talked to him, but it hasn't aired yet. The the director of Borat to Jason Wallinger, who is just kind of a fascinating guy who's been around in comedy for a long time.
But this was his first movie that he directed, which I thought was insane because think about that as a first film to take that on and everything that went into it, it took like two years, the whole thing from start to finish. And the obviously the Rudy Giuliani thing was really one of the moments of the year. And he and he had a lot of moments from both.
She's 15. She's too old for you. Why should my daughter please take me instead? Take my take my I do not have her. I'm literally, you know, I bet my back. I don't believe my I will let you enjoy my you know, I bet I would love to. I was in prison many years, so I have techniques with my mouth. What what's going on here? Why does God forbid this union, Rudy Trump will be disappointed you are leaving the hotel without golden shower.
It's funny because this was what started the downward spiral in some way. Yeah, it kind of foreshadowed it in a way, right? Yeah.
Except the downward spiral is what he's still the president. I mean, I guess that here in the can dripping down his face was the lowest moment I've been forces'.
It's total landscaping is this in my mind, it's about opportunity for four seasons, the hair dripping and obviously, you know, putting his hands down, his pants in front of the crowd. It's not not good. It's not great. Yeah. I'm still convinced that there was more going on there than than tucking in.
Yeah, I think that's the general consensus at this point. Yeah, definitely. Yeah.
But yeah, I think there's there's that there's Barat. And then the other one that really stood out to me this year is another person I've had on my podcast is Jordan Klepper, who has been doing this stuff for The Daily Show for years. He was a correspondent on that show, but then kind of left and now he's come back just periodically doing these segments where he confronts Trump supporters at Trump rallies in a year where no one was doing that kind of thing, mostly because of the pandemic.
He was actually going out and and putting on a mask and talking to the mask hordes at these Trump rallies and getting them to say some really insane things. So I think he he definitely wins in my book as the sort of bravest, you know, riskiest comedian who was actually risked his life for comedy this year.
We here to celebrate that. We. Oh, you're four years too late. You're four years too late. What about who did this to you? Not the of the flag that matters, it's how many votes you get.
The Electoral College system, they were here to celebrate the fact that America is a rich, diverse nation with so many different kinds of alleged election fraud people.
There's people that must change and votes who people across across the United States. Where did you hear this? All over. We can't ignore it. We're talking about having people vote. No. One, should Trump have appealed more to the dead person vote?
Should he appeal? We just need fairness. Yeah.
I mean, I have to say, as someone who's been to CPAC twice now, the first time I was OK, but the second time I really felt like it's a little scary. I mean, they're not these people are a little scary.
Yeah. I've never been to CPAC. I've been to Politiken a couple of times, just like the CPAC, you know, cool younger brother, I think.
Yeah. I mean, I feel like Politiken has more of a mix of like normal people to see at least. Yeah.
I mean, CPAC is like really the drag's, you know, man, I thought what was funny with Jordan was you talk a lot on your podcast to comedians about like the ups and downs, their career, their trajectories. You get these stories all the time in Jordan kind of had this mess with this show, the opposition, even though I think it had some great moments. But then you see him immediately, right after, like some people saying that that was a loss for him.
Come back with this just amazing moment in his career. Yeah, it is.
It's crazy. It's like he I quite like the opposition as well. And it was it was definitely it was like one of these long there's been a long string of shows that have tried to follow The Daily Show and failed post Colbert Report. And, you know, it's Jordan Klepper. It's Larry Wilmore, who I also love. But, you know, and just no one seems to really be able to make that timeslot work since Colbert left. But, yeah, Jordan Klepper, it's like he he once he really, like, figured out his thing and focused on it with these segments.
And again, it's like it helps that there's only one, you know, six minute segment every three months when you can when you can do that little amount of work and really pack it in. And it really it shows how the quality.
Yeah. And when you interviewed him, though, he really shed a light, though, on like how much the process went into this and how much craftsmanship he went into, which I thought was really interesting.
Yeah. I mean he obviously prepares a ton because with any of these people who are going out and trying to make comedy with real people, they're basically just like creating tons of different scenarios in their head and hoping that they're funny and that it works out. So, you know, I think he would go in with like a million different questions people. But then he's such a great improviser that he just has to, like, go with the flow of whatever's happening in that moment.
And, you know, if it's taking it, you know, taking the piss out of a Trump supporter who's, you know, has some hypocrisy coming out of their mouth because they, you know, believe in one that I just was watching was he talked to someone who believes who's pro-life and anti choice, but thinks that it should be, you know, a choice whether to wear a mask.
Yes, yes. Yes. That's really common in that group. I mean, yes, sort of an amazing disconnect. Yeah.
Who would have ever thought that we'd get a bigger disconnect with those people than, you know, big government versus small government and chasing women around and voicing their wombs?
Yeah, yeah, exactly.
But the other thing that you were talking when we were bringing this about is that this was a very big year for political comedy and social media.
Yeah. And I think that has a lot to do with the fact that everyone was stuck at home with nothing to do and sort of production value was was prized less maybe than it was in the past. And people were at all just. Yeah. The film themselves in their house. And yeah. I mean, I think obviously the big one in that realm was the real big breakout star was Sarah Cooper, which I don't know when when when were you guys first aware of Sarah Cooper.
What do you what do you remember about about that? Because it was clearly it's like she was nobody and then she was huge.
Yeah. I mean, I definitely saw her do those videos and they're good.
I felt like one day I didn't know it. And then the next day it was like there was 10000 videos. Yeah. And then she got a Netflix special.
How do you keep doing that. Yeah, I mean, that's a big question is how does she pivot from from doing lip synching. Trump is I think will be a hard thing for her career because I don't know if you guys saw the Netflix special, but it was like a lot of Trump, but a lot of kind of experimenting with other stuff, too. And I would say some of it work better than others. But she's already started putting out videos where she's actually speaking in her own voice like she did a great one.
But she's playing a character, which is Jenna Generalises law mentor.
Oh, that's great. That's a really good idea. Yeah.
So she's kind of like, you know, imagining what sort of the people behind the scenes are in this insane Magga world. But again, like, I guess I don't I don't think Mago world is going to go. Anywhere, really anytime soon. So I think if she wants to keep working in that in that realm, she can. Yeah. Who else did you see doing interesting things? I mean, the other breakout star for me, who's I think a lot less well known than Sarah Cooper at this point, but it's also just amazing is this woman, Blair Erskine, who does these also just ridiculous videos.
And I think it's even like it's more difficult than what Sarah Cooper was doing because she's actually creating original stuff and creating original characters where she's spoofing, again, Magga people like a.. Maskers. And she did, I think, with one of the one of my favorites when she was playing Tiffany, Trump's best friend and one which I thought was pretty funny.
Tiffany's like my best friend. We met like three months ago at this club. So I got Jacksonville. And over the weekend she was like, hey, do you want to come to my dad's house or how? Then what do you call it? We're having a kid. And I was like, sure, you know, because I grew up poor and everyone's like a like a rich person already. And I was like, I'd love to go to a kid, but we've been here for like five days and it has not happened yet.
And, like, the stuff that has happened is like pretty I don't know, like not OK.
Oh yeah. That one was so good. She came out of nowhere. She's like, you know, I don't I was looking at her imdb just be like, I wonder if she's done anything else. And like, no, she's done, you know, some short films or some random things. And I think maybe she's been in a commercial or something, but she's she's really just someone who was at home during this time, started making videos on her phone and totally blew up.
And now she posted them. It's like they're highly anticipated, get shared all over Twitter. I know everyone at The Daily Beast gets excited and watches them the second she posts them.
So it's pretty crazy. Yeah. No good for her. Yeah. Yeah. I think it's interesting, too, because you're seeing especially I became like addicted political tick tock this year and never did I think that I was going to be an all of 18 year olds political humor.
Yeah, well, with something from an eighteen year old on ticktock that that got you.
And if you say George's daughter, I know out of respect to cover do abnormal guess probably I will not say Claudia.
You know what, she is quite she's quite beautiful. I mean I think and I found her funny, but I don't I'm not a total connoisseur, so I don't know.
Was she trying to be funny? I'm not even sure she's pretty funny. What's actually funny? What are the what are the best ones to answer?
The question was, was she did a tick tock of her Bob coughing when she got back and looks like it was like some of the best gallows humor of the year. My God.
I mean, this kind of hilarious. But yes, it's true.
I know. Where is she going to go next? I think she she could have a big future. Claudia Conway.
Yeah, I could see her ultimately ending up being famous. But again, for what you know, it's good to have something you're famous for. Yeah. Instead of just who you are. Yeah.
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Sarah is living in fear. And it's not just this Christmas. Your love can make all the difference. Visit Trocaire dot org or call 1854 or wait for a wait until love conquers fear. So another thing we were going to talk about is the biggest staple of comedy of the last half a century, sorry, alive.
Yeah, it's been also a very weird year for Saturday Night Live, which is something that I am just weirdly obsessed with, as anyone who knows me knows and for no good reason.
Like most I think most of it's pretty bad, to be honest with you and I yet I watch every minute of it every week where we're very glad that you're on that page, because Molly and I were discussing this before here that we were both like, so it lives a little rough.
Well, hey, you talked to Alec Baldwin.
So, I mean, you explain, has it always been bad?
Well, the thing that everyone talks about this is like Lorne Michaels thing is that everyone thinks that when they were in high school, it was the best that it ever was more to do with that has more to do with their sensibility when they were in high school like that, just like people's favorite records.
It's all it's always the record that you really felt at 19 years old.
Yeah. And that's like it's totally true. It's like for me, I'm like, yeah. When it was Mike Myers and Dana Carvey and Chris Farley, it was the best. Like that's that's just when it was the best. Yeah. I don't know if that is that true or is that someone else might have very different perspective on that.
It's funny because it's like there's clearly occasionally they hit it out of the park and those clips become huge viral sensations. Yeah.
I mean, what I say to everyone who's like, should I be watching SNL? I'm like, no, you should be watching whatever. The one clip the next day is that we often post on The Daily Beast is is what was worth watching and otherwise know sitting through the whole thing is definitely not necessary. But, you know, their political stuff, I think always gets attention because it just it becomes a thing no matter what it is. And, you know, I think it's Tina Fey as Sarah Palin is obviously one that stands out.
And I think that was that was like an example of something that was funny. But it was more because Sarah Palin was so funny than anything Tina Fey was doing. It was she was she was just verbatim repeating the, you know, ridiculous things that came out of Sarah Palin's mouth.
But 30 Rock is really funny. Yeah. And but that's you know, she was that was she was writing it and she was like, yeah, but that was born of SNL.
Yeah. Yeah. And it's sort of the SNL behind the scenes in her, you know, exaggerated way. And I think that's also one of the things of what SNL stays relevant through is that the things SNL spurs are truly, truly some of the most amazing stuff we've ever had in comedy, whether it's the really popular stuff on to just the obscure stuff like you had Robert Smiggle on TV. Funhouse is my favorite thing ever. And I think triumph that some of the best political comedy of the past few years as well.
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. He's great. It definitely is a thing that they do come up with some brilliant stuff, which is why it's still known as such a big thing, don't you agree? Yeah.
And I think the other thing I mean, this kind of goes into the Tina Fey thing, because when she was playing Sarah Palin, she had already left the show. So she was kind of one of these earlier celebrity celebrity, you know, guests coming in. And so and then with Alec Baldwin playing Trump, he basically became a member of the cast over the last four years, which is something he probably never thought he would do. And then they just kind of kept trying it again and again.
Like, you know, Ben Stiller, who we talked to back in the day was Michael Cohen. And that was really funny. And like Robert De Niro was was Robert Mueller. And then I think they they they jumped the shark a little bit this year when they brought in Jim Carrey as Joe Biden, which to me just really didn't work at all. As great as Jim Carrey is, I just didn't I just didn't see it in his impression that that it was really he was terrible.
Like, it just it wasn't funny. It didn't capture what was funny about Joe Biden. If there is something funny about him, which I don't know.
Well well, unlike President Trump, we do accept the results of this election.
We're not mad at them. We have to act graciously in victory, though. We need to go forward together. Unfortunately, there are situations in life and this is one of them where there must be a winner and. Hazar. Lee Hill is here. Are they keeping him on?
So, no, they this this past week, they officially replaced him first. Jim Carrey did this, like, very kind of tweet that got a lot of attention that I thought was like strangely sincere, where he was like, I'm stepping aside as Joe Biden, like I've done my service and now's the time for me to leave. So luckily, I think he saw the writing on the wall and and also didn't want to be Alec Baldwin for the next four years, going to SNL all the time.
Like, I think he has better things to do.
Yeah, but Alec Baldwin as Trump is really God. Yeah, he is good. And he is more Trump than Trump at this point.
Yeah, I think and it was a larger than life impression, which is what you need sometimes, and especially with someone like Trump. You know, I think having a big celebrity, you know, made sense in that way with Joe Biden. I just I think they they tried it with Jim Carrey and it didn't work. But they now they have one of their actual cast members, Alex Moffett, who you might know, Molly as the SNL, Eric Trump, who is quite, quite cool.
Yeah. I don't know if you've seen those.
The thing they do with Don Jr. and Eric, I think is actually very funny. And they often do it on Weekend Update. Yeah, well, they'll come on. And Alex Moffett plays Eric as this, like as, you know, the dumbest Trump son. And it's basically just looking looking over to Don Junior and mimicking all of his movements if you watch him. And just like anyway, it's very funny, but he he he premiered his Biden and it's not like it was the funniest thing ever, but it was it was like a pretty accurate impression.
And I think it's great that they have someone from the cast doing it and they're to do it because they just they they haven't had that, you know, for the last four years in these big roles. And they are they already have Maya Rudolph in his Comilla. And she's great, but also someone who's, you know, not from the Kasit one. She can't be there all the time. And two, it it does kind of take away the opportunities from these people who are, you know, supposedly the main cast members on the show.
Yeah, I mean, I guess but the goal here is to make the show really funny and and. Well, it is. I mean, being on SNL is a huge opportunity. And if you don't get, you know, out there, I don't know. I don't have so much. But I guess I mean, I guess I guess that's the point. Yeah.
I mean, I think in some they've had some really good cast members on this season to doing political stuff like, you know, Kate McKinnon, who does everything amazingly. But she really took off as Rudy this year because she had a lot to do as Rudy.
And then, you know, they've had they've had some other great people like Cecily Strong plays like she she did Melania, who I feel like she hasn't done Melania in ever in a really long time. But I feel like she got one upped by Laura Benanti, who does Melania on Colbert's show and is unbelievable. And it's like I kind of think she, she's done it to a degree that no one else can quite can quite get there.
It's so funny because Melania herself is so, you know, is basically just a parody.
Yeah, well, they're all that's the problem is that they're all parodies. Yeah. You know, you could say that about A-list people.
I mean, I think like if we do talk about what are good moments of SNL past our teenage years at the Sean Spicer imitation, that one of the great. Yeah. Like that was what Sarah was best moments of all time. Yeah. Yeah.
Melissa McCarthy and I was like that also kicked off the the women playing Placemen and Trump world, which apparently he really did not like. That was the story that came out around then was that. Yeah, that was great. He didn't like that women were playing his people. And so then I remember there were a lot of talk about like maybe they should start having a woman play Trump for that reason.
Yeah, no, that was really great. But is there another thing to that?
Like, there's part of me that thinks Biden is a little hard to catch because it's all in the speech, like it's hard to do him.
Yeah. And it's I mean, I think this has got a lot of conversation around this during the Obama years, too, was that they had a lot of trouble making Obama funny. And like famously Key and Peele with the anger translator, we're the only ones to really find a good angle on Obama.
But, yeah, Biden is Biden is not. I think it's it's tough. It's it's going to be hard.
You could if you sort of were committed to it. The problem with Trump is Trump is so awful that you really you hate him, which adds an element. You know, no one is ever going to say it like, you know, don't be to me, you know, it's hard when you're the guy who's, like, kind of saved democracy for now.
But I also think there's like that thing where there was they may have been a little careful leading up to the election because the stakes and that for once, once Biden is president and now I mean, there's a little bit more freedom to be harsh because, you know, he's already beat Trump. Yeah.
Yeah. In fact, now that you say that, it's funny because, like, I think the only good Joe Biden impression I heard was when Episode one did that episode where it was three, Joe Biden's talking to each other and they don't care if he gets elected. Yeah, you can. You're allowed to be funnier in that sense. Yeah, I mean, there was I remember also with Will Ferrell as George W. Bush, there was like all this talk about how he made Bush more likable, even though he was playing him very dumb.
He made him likable to it to a degree that people were willing to vote for him and that there's like this theory out there that he actually, because he seemed more fun than Al Gore, both in real life and on mostly on SNL, that that actually influenced the election, which I don't know if I believe that. But it's possible.
It's a theory. Yeah, certainly. Certainly anyone who works for SNL likes to say that, you know, oh, no, no, we we don't have they don't want to be responsible for elections, for deciding elections.
Yeah, yeah. I like having Trump dance the hotline bling. Yeah. Well that that's a whole other thing.
When they had Trump that was that's the very, you know, original sin of of of political comedy at this point. Yeah. Thank you so much for coming on. This was really great.
Thank you, guys. Stay safe. Happy holidays.
On that note, we'll wrap up this episode of The New Abnormal for The Daily Beast. In future episodes, we'll be talking with smart folks from The Daily Beast and beyond, from media, culture, politics and science to help us understand what's happening to our country and the world.
We hope you'll subscribe to us on your favorite podcast app and share the show on social media. We're just getting started and don't want you to miss an episode if you'd like to follow us on Twitter. I'm Molly Chang, Fast and Historic Wealth, and thanks so much for listening. And we'll see you again on the next episode.
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Wait for a trucker until love conquers fear.