If you clicked this link to witness a blistering defense of Donald Trump against the liberal snowflakes who are trying to pussify America, you have clicked the wrong link, I dislike the man as both a person and a politician. But I didn’t write this article as a sendup of everything Trump, either. Everywhere you turn on the internet there’s another article demonizing him. Some articles are well-written and policy-based, others inarticulate and without facts, but regardless I don’t think one more from me would really serve much of a point. No, I wrote this post as an analysis of the kind of jokes I’ve seen people use surrounding him.
As far as I can tell there are three major breeds of Trump jokes that I hope to never see again, knowing full well that I will see one of them within the next 10-15 business days. I’d just like to point them out in case any of my sparse readership feels like it’s time to be king-comedy of a Facebook comments section. It might seem like these don’t need mentioning they’re so old, but I still see them, I assure you. As of this post it’s been around 60 days since the man ascended to the throne and already I’m prepared to claw my goddamn eyes out every time I so much as feel a Trump joke coming on. Anyway.
For those of you who don’t know, in February of 2016, John Oliver did a whole episode of his show in which he dug up the information that the ‘Trump’ name, so prized by The Donald himself, was actually changed from ‘Drumpf’ sometime in the last hundred years or so(ish). He then went on to say the original name was a more accurate reflection of the insecure man Trump is, coining the phrase “Make Donald Drumpf Again”.
I know what you’re thinking, “Oh boy, a hot take on a joke already analyzed by professional writers, and a year later, no less. I can hardly contain my erection.”, but this joke will occasionally pop up on protest signs, political art, and online posts, so I think it’s worth a little poking around. Granted a lot of these comics don’t flaunt the name as their main joke, but I still think even if you use “Drumpf” as an accent on a joke and not the joke itself, you’re missing the mark. This is for a couple of reasons.
When the family changed its name is unclear, maybe his grandfather did in the 1800’s, maybe someone else did earlier. If it was grandpa Freidrich Drumpf he might have done it to make for an easier transition into American society or avoid anti-German sentiment surrounding the world wars, both reasons that seem rather justified. If it was an earlier ancestor in his homeland of Germany, who gives a fuck why? Point is, if you’re using the name because it sounds silly, because it sounds like a fictional cave troll or something of that ilk, you’re already off to a bad start. What you’re doing is mocking a perfectly legitimate Germanic surname. Now I understand that in America it’s not insensitive if the nationality you’re mocking is majority white, but the concept of laughing at a foreign name doesn’t much help your point. Especially considering a lot of what people seem to hate about Trump is his lack of inclusivity or tolerance.
But maybe you find this name change as a sign of falseness. You’re accusing the family of putting up a glitzy façade to mask the very real vulnerable person behind. You’re accusing them of… branding? How dare the man’s ancestor use the completely legal system at his disposal to make a name that peoples’ fickle sensibilities will be able to remember and adore. What a lowlife thing to do. Everybody knows you should stay true to the name you’re given, just like William Jefferson Blythe III (Bill Clinton), Leslie Lynch King, Jr. (Gerald Ford), Marion Robert Morrison (John Wayne), Jerome Silberman (Gene Wilder), Robert Allen Zimmerman (Bob Dylan), Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz (Jon Stewart), Nicolas Kim Coppola (Nicolas Cage), David Robert Jones (David Bowie), Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali), Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou (George Michael), Farrokh Bulsara (Freddy Mercury), Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain). Nobody worth respecting changes their name.
So maybe those points are moot because nobody you know uses this joke anymore. But what about…
Let’s make no bones about it. This is a penis thing. These jokes have absolutely nothing to do with his hands, and I think that’s dumb.
As a man, I understand this criticism, there are few more crushing blows a man can be dealt than being told his junk is small. Dick size really is the greatest equalizer of all. Every man has one and at their very core every man, regardless of uniform or title, wants to be told his penis is special and good. Sexual interaction is one of the most important aspects of life, so why wouldn’t half of America take the opportunity to hit a man they revile right where it hurts?
I comprehend the reason, but here’s my problem, it’s the laziest possible way to make fun of somebody. When you’re a middle school male you’re handed an insult guidebook and it has two suggestions for when you don’t like somebody: 1. Accuse them of having a small penis/balls 2. Accuse them of homosexuality. It’d be fine if once you graduated high school you were handed a new insult book, but that is not the case. Many people lean on such insults for the rest of their lives, taunts that take as much creativity as scratching your genitals.
I know what some people are thinking, “We use this joke because it’ll get a rise out of him,” and that’s true, because fucking anything will get a rise out of him.
I’d also like to point out that being hung like a mouse or being gay are two things you’re born with. Surgery will add an inch to your dick and a pill can make it hard for the ladies, but it’s not like moral decrepitude led you to need that help in the first place. Business decisions leading to multiple bankruptcies? Choice. Overtanning leading to unnatural appearance? Choice. Opting for the combover instead of accepting baldness? Choice. Possibly small penis leading to possible sexual dissatisfaction of wives? Not something anybody would sign up for.
This grievance is more a catchall for lack of creativity than it is an indictment of making fun of Trump’s complexion, but it’s important nonetheless.
There’s no doubt about it, the man is orange, an unnatural seeming orange. And barring the fact that it’s the result of some crippling liver disease, it’s a perfectly decent thing to make fun of. I just wish people wouldn’t call him some kind of orange and then wait for their standing ovation. That’s not how jokemaking works. A solid joke involves more than that.
When I was in college I had a friend who was not good at jokes. He would come up to me and, as a roast, say, “Rick, you’re an alcoholic” as if that, in and of itself, was a joke. I told him repeatedly that that is not how a joke works. You need to add a clever twist on another fact to make an effective joke.
Here’s a handy chart:
Me being an alcoholic -> nothing else -> Not a joke
Me being an alcoholic -> something else -> Possible funny joke
Here’s a corresponding example:
Initial Fact: I drink a lot
Something Else: Sometimes this causes me to pee myself in my sleep
End joke: Hey, Rick, are you going to sleep here tonight? I just need to know if I should put some newspaper down in the kennel or if you’re going to get an Uber home instead.
End result: Funny joke
People don’t seem to grasp that stating a fact is seldom a joke. Adding ‘racist’ or ‘sexist’ in front of the word ‘orange’ is hardly an accomplishment. Mentioning his combover should not get you a Pulitzer for distinguished criticism either. People have been dropping similar shitty Trump jokes all over the internet since its inception (Remember how Trump was famous before all this?). If you’re going to drag these relics out from the crypt and blow the dust off of them, the least you can do is get creative with your vocabulary.
I don’t know why I bother with this, though, people will always pick the low hanging fruit. After this whole Oscar kerfuffle I was inundated with “Steve Harvey’s off the hook” Jokes and “Now can we just say that the wrong results were read for the election too?” jokes. I know there’s not an original thought under the sun, but can we as a society try to space these jokes more than 3 comments apart?
There’s no real point to this post. I could ask people to stop making uncreative partisan jokes until my face turns blue or until my keyboard is ground into dust, but I know it won’t happen. Why? Political circle-jerkery.
Political circle-jerkery is a common process. Somebody coins a joke, enough people like the original to repeat it, then it becomes mandatory to laugh at it just to slight political opponents. At this point in the process people can post a tired gag on their protest signs or Facebook walls for the benefit of both themselves and like-thinkers, knowing their joke is going straight to the top. That’s how circle-jerkery works. People stop thinking about whether or not what they’re talking about is even funny because they’re caught in the middle of a good ‘ol frothy circle jerk. Once this happens no one can seem to help themselves.
I’d like to emphasize the fact that this lack of creativity or individuality is not endemic to any particular party. On Facebook I watch people feel each other up about Bernie, and in person I watch my friends touch dicks about Trump, it’s an unavoidable part of life. This is really just Hail Mary in the hopes that people might listen. That I won’t have to deal with this Fallon-level shit for the next 4-8 years. That I won’t have to use a goofy necktie hang myself after one too many combover jokes.
So I implore you, before you type that sharp commentary, before you like your friend’s acerbic political post. Think to yourself: Is this take really hot? Is this meme really spicy? Is this joke really witty? Or is your hand just working overtime down your pants?