Comedy before Trump
What did you do today? I re-read the January 2013 issue of Vanity Fair. I know you’re thinking, “What the whaaa? A physical magazine? From almost five years ago? Whyyyy?” Yes – an actual magazine.
Why? Because, it was the All-Star Comedy Issue guest-edited by Judd Apatow. (Also, because someone tweeted a photo of the 2003 Young Hollywood issue, which I also own and it reminded me that I am a hoarder, keeping magazines that are so old half of the people on that cover are in rehab or retired, and I should really read them.)
When I was sorting through my hoarding pile and saw the comedy issue – I was thrilled. Lately I have been thinking about comedy. What it was before we lived in the daily chaos that is President Trump? It’s hasn’t even been a year – but I was beginning to forget.
I wanted to go back and remember. The good old days of odd improv characters and dick jokes. This issue would surely help with my need to look back to a time when people still saw the future as bright.
I also saw it and thought, “Why the hell is Megan Fox on the cover of this issue?” I had to investigate. Did Megan Fox have a comedy run that I was unaware of? No. Turns out she was in Apatow’s then upcoming movie This is 40 with Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann (both on the cover, but funny comedic actors). Also on the cover, Melissa McCarthy, who is hilarious. Fun fact, none of the articles in this issue are about or mention any of these four people.
I start reading – comedy before President Trump, this will be swell. First up, the Editor’s Letter by Graydon Carter. A solid Editor’s Letter…until the last quarter:
If there is an omission in this issue, it is the fact that no mention has been made of the man behind one of the great comic creations of our day. Long before masters of invention such as Andy Kaufman and Pat Paulsen, this fellow created a persona so original it almost defies description. And for more than four decades, he has stayed in character. He devised a look involving hair and wardrobe that would have been the envy of Emmett Kelly. His parody reality show is as fresh and funny as The Colbert Report. His lunatic tweets are masterful. I particularly loved the flurry of faux outrage he popped off on Election Night. “This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy!” Hilarious. Then there are his constant public appearances, with the yelling and the short-finger-pointing and the crude bluster. He just never breaks character. I’ve heard that he lives quite modestly in a classic six off Lexington in the East 70s, but that’s just rumor. The fact is, nobody knows who he is. What I do know is that he has stayed in character for so long, and with such dedication, that many people in America still believe that his fake persona, Donald Trump, is a real person. To whoever the dedicated professional under that confection of wispy, tangerine hair really is, this issue is for you.
I did end up reading the rest of the issue, but I could have stopped there. Comedy before President Trump was really just comedians, entertainers and the media alike, making Trump their comedic side-show. A pest we all laughed at. A person we encouraged by saying, “Oh please, run for president – WE WANT TO BE ENTERTAINED.”
Thanks for the reminder Vanity Fair, thank you very much.
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