President Trump is nostalgic. Ah, the good old days, he says, when America was great, coal was king and people still said “Merry Christmas.” And, the comedians weren’t so darn mean.
This week, the president has been particularly wistful about that last one, using a couple early-morning tweets to criticize the late-night shows — in particular, their “one-sided hatred” of him and his administration. On Thursday, Trump went on Twitter to lament the sad state of evening comedy and apparently quoted a guest on “Fox & Friends” talking about the way things used to be.
“The three very weak and untalented late night ‘hosts’ are ‘fighting over table scraps. [Johnny] Carson did a great job, it wasn’t political,'” Trump wrote, referring to the late, iconic dean of late-night TV, whose run spanned three decades.
The implication, as many saw it, was that the president thought Carson would never poke fun at Trump. Cue the video of Carson . . . doing just that.
Comedian Mike Drucker, who writes for the show “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” posted footage of Carson in 1989 joking about the short-lived game show, “Trump Card.”
“He’s on everything. He’s got his name on buildings, he’s got his name on boats,” Carson said, before his punchline about Trump’s reputation as a hard-driving landlord. “And this show, apparently, is a lot like ‘Wheel of Fortune,’ but instead of Vana White, Leona Helmsley comes out and flips a homeless person into the street.”
As the crowd hooted its approval and Carson continued: “And one of the features each week is called the ‘Eviction of the Week.’ Trump stands under a tenement window with a bullhorn and yells, ‘Come on down!’”
A couple years later, Carson included Trump in another bit, one that jokingly tied him to the Clinton family.
“Don’t worry about Gennifer Flowers,” Carson said, referring to a woman who alleged a sexual relationship with Bill Clinton in the 1990s. “She got a new job today as a Donald Trump backup mistress.”
The tension between Trump and comedians not named Johnny Carson, especially those who appear on “Saturday Night Live,” is long-running and mutual.
“They’re not, like, talented people,” Trump said, of modern-day late night hosts at a 2018 rally. “Johnny Carson was talented.”
On “The Late Show,” in June, host Stephen Colbert responded to that sideswipe.
“He is right, Carson was a legend,” Colbert said, before playing more footage of Carson making a Trump joke.
It is not just the president’s gripes that are getting recycled — comedians seem to be reusing their jokes. Johnny Carson would never have done that.