The week began with “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert presiding over an anti-Trump TV special (also known as the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards) that featured a self-deprecating cameo by former White House press secretary Sean Spicer.
The week is ending with President Trump making “South Park” look prescient by taunting North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un on Twitter.
In between, Jimmy Kimmel helped drive the national conversation about the Cassidy-Graham health-care bill put forward by Senate Republicans. And if you were interested in Hillary Clinton’s reaction to Trump’s speech at the U.N. General Assembly, Colbert’s program was the place to find the news — because he scored the interview.
To some extent, late-night comedy took over politics this week, and “Saturday Night Live” isn’t even back on the air until next Saturday.
My Fix colleague, Eugene Scott, tackled the question of why entertainers wade into politics. Some entertainers seem to feel as though the reverse is happening — that it is actually the world of politics that is infringing upon their territory, as current events stretch notions of what is possible in real life and resemble scenes from film or satire.
“I never imagined I would get involved in something like this,” Kimmel said Tuesday. “This is not my area of expertise. My area of expertise is eating pizza, and that’s really about it.”
The comedian painted Cassidy-Graham as a cruel joke — a plan that does not guarantee coverage for people with preexisting conditions, even though Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) previously vowed on Kimmel’s show to support only a bill that included such a protection.
“So, ‘yep’ is Washington for ‘nope,'’ I guess,” Kimmel quipped.
After a 20th season that centered on Trump-related humor, “South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker sounded eager to move on when they previewed season 21 in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter this month.
“Last year was such a headf---, and we were so happy when it was done,” Parker said. Yet he also sounded resigned to the likelihood that the president would do something to compel more Trump commentary.
“We are not actively putting it in, but we are not actively leaving it out,” Parker said. “It’s the world we live in.”
Sure enough, Trump’s Twitter mockery of Kim Jong Un (“Rocket Man”) inspired Wednesday’s episode, just the second of the season. The episode depicted “distracted driving awareness week” at South Park Elementary School. The primary distraction was not smartphone usage, in general, but checking the president’s tweets, specifically.
The episode concluded with a song called “Put It Down.” Here’s an excerpt of the lyrics:
People are dying; the fault is our own.
You can do lots of damage when you’re on your phone.
We all have to agree to change it somehow.
Let’s all make a pledge to end it right now.
Put it down.
Don’t be on your phone while being president.
Put it down.
Might do something dumb and cause an accident.
The suggestion, of course, is that the “accident” Trump could cause is not a mere car crash but a nuclear war with North Korea.
Trump presumably did not watch this “South Park” episode (it aired at the same time as Sean Hannity’s show) and on Friday he reengaged with Kim Jong Un, who had called him a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard” on Thursday.
Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn't mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 22, 2017