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Trump’s run for president is the best prop for late night comedy since Sarah Palin

trump tv nightly show donald
Christopher Halloran /
Since announcing his presidential campaign on June 16, businessman/TV personality/blowhard Donald Trump seems to have attracted more headlines and airtime than the rest of the numerous candidates — Republicans and Democrats — put together. Late night TV hosts, in particular, have jumped all over the topic, delighting in the endless comedic inspiration they’ve found in his controversial first speech alone. From the look of things, Trump’s decision to run for president just might be the best thing to hit late night TV since the GOP added Sarah Palin and her uncanny Tina Fey resemblance to the Republican ticket.

What makes Trump such irresistible late night comedy fodder is his infamous willingness to speak his mind, whether that be trumpeting his net worth or blatantly offending and alienating large groups of people. It’s just not something we’re used to seeing in politics.

For example, when Trump landed himself in hot water with his inflammatory remarks on immigration (during his campaign kickoff no less), he was completely unapologetic. Even after his comments cost him his business relationships with Univision and NBC, the mogul remained unabashed. Virtually anyone else would have backpedaled to some degree, but not Trump; he simply vowed to lawyer up — and then promptly brought his case to the court of public opinion, aka social media. In a particularly snarky tweet from July 1, Trump referred to the president of NBC as a “very loyal guy.”

The buzz around the former Celebrity Apprentice host hasn’t been surprising. In fact, it’s more or less exactly what many expected, and even hoped, to see since Trump began toying with the idea of running years ago. In August 2013, John Oliver was filling in for Jon Stewart on The Daily Show when rumors surfaced that Trump was planning a 2016 bid. In his “Can’t You At Least Wait Until Jon Stewart Gets Back” segment, he enthusiastically encouraged him to go for it. Said Oliver at the time, “I will personally write you a campaign check now on behalf of this country, which does not want you to be president but which badly wants you to run.”

Since Trump made his bid official, late night hosts have been giddy over the news. A bit from The Nightly Show perfectly portrayed the excitement of comedians everywhere. In it, host Larry Wilmore received a gift box that indicated it was from “the comedy gods.” When he opened it, he found a screen inside playing a video clip of Trump’s announcement. Lights shone down from heaven and angels sang.

Stephen Colbert, who doesn’t even officially take the reins of The Late Show until Sept. 8, couldn’t resist posting a response on YouTube (see below). He made an announcement of his own, which doubled as a chance to show off his best comb-over, New York accent, and Trump mannerisms. “Donald Trump’s campaign for President of the United States is not just great for America,” the comedian declared, “it’s great for late night television because Donald’s presidential campaign has inspired me, Stephen Colbert, to announce that I will still be hosting The Late Show on CBS.” He added that “Donald Trump running for president is going to make late night television great again.”

And it already has. From a fake game called Trump Stumpers, in which contestants were asked to determine whether the candidate actually made specific outrageous claims (the answer was always yes) to comedians trying to make the most Trump-like, bragging statements, entire segments have been devoted to the hotelier’s campaign — and again, it’s just over two weeks old. Jon Stewart gleefully acknowledged the potential, going so far as to thank Trump on the June 23 episode of The Daily Show. “Thank you, Donald Trump for making my last six weeks [as show host] my best six weeks,” he said.

They say that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but if what we’ve seen so far is any indication, it looks like Trump’s campaign may really put that adage to the test.

Watch Stephen Colbert’s Trump-inspired announcement below.

Announcing: an Announcement!

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