The most amusing people are often those who don’t know they’re funny. Despite the looming apocalypse, we surely have the funniest person to have ever run for president, right now..
When Jerry Seinfeld and his teeth walk onstage we know he’s going to set up situations and mess with us in a fictional world which resembles ours, but in the end it’s really parody. Like Lewis Black’s mad shouting; it’s an act, a comedy mask which performers have worn as long as humans have entertained each other. What makes Trump the Comedian in Chief hilarious on a higher level is that his shtick is 100% genuine. We roll around on our sofas at this psychiatric freak show because we know he actually believes everything he says.
Who needs a serious political plan? The yucks are in observational comedy
He is multi-functional. He is great at phone-it-in interviews as a disembodied, Archie Bunker-accented voice on the phone to his team of straight-men and straight-blondes at Fox & Friends, but the best shows are at the rallies where he pulls his own energy from the crowds. The energy roars in their inane and slightly frightening chants; always with the brainless “U! S! A! U! S! A!”, up to the menacing “Lock her up” and “Build that wall!”
But for comic relief the boss starts to ramble off script, and that’s what the punters come to hear. Who needs a serious political plan when the yucks are in the observational comedy of a mentally ill old billionaire from Queens? It’s unpredictable and so entertaining.
So we gasp and chuckle at his latest atrocities, they’re too absurd to take seriously. We’re smiling, head scratching at the self-defeating strategies of victimizing a beauty queen, or the Gold Star family which was only the opening act as later on TV he leaned in, conspiratorially, to suggest of Mrs. Kahn; “Maybe she couldn’t talk, I don’t know….” Genius! Who even says things like that? But it’s funny, this parody of himself – a crazy, off the chain brand of paranoid bigotry and demented fantasy.
Thematically, its Trump’s unending personal feuds that are his A-material, particularly the targets – a dead war hero, a live war hero, a dippy beauty queen, and a federal judge of impeccable quality. All of them end up as the Road Runner to Trump’s Wile E. Coyote as he blows himself up every single day. That’s comedy: Acme Trump. Funnier yet are his vast architectures of conspiracies, plots, threats, and complicated plot twists to try to bridge the gap between actual reality here on earth and his absurd theories and rants.
Then there are the surrogates. Unlike Fox News fanboys, this is his paid team of straight-men. They give the Trump Show resonance: each deserve their own TV spin-off. Bosses as insecure as Trump usually employ people based on loyalty as opposed to competence. Additionally, by Trump’s own admission, his female employees have to be aesthetically pleasing, “10s”, further reducing the pool of competent potential surrogates. It shows.
In a presidential election there’s another dimension to his hiring – the cravenly opportunistic: long discarded broken toys like Skeletor Gui-9/11-liani, “Shinebox” Christie, and lumbering chubby Gingrich. All these X-men are desperate to rescue their fading relevance again with little thought to the implications of their career-ending positions. They make for a back-up band of the disorganized, the failed, the nearly forgotten. Idiocy has a pathetic aesthetic all of its own.
For most Democrats, or adult Republicans, watching Trump has the schadenfreude of witnessing somebody else’s five year old have a melt-down at a party; you almost feel sorry for the poor parents, the sane wing of the Republican party, desperately trying to calm their little tyke’s tantrum while everybody else watches in bemusement: “Thank God that’s not my kid.”
Is it permissible to laugh at a man so obviously afflicted by a personality disorder?
Need more specific proof? Take the political gaff. Long entertainment for journalists and the public, a gaff is an embarrassing or telling slip of the tongue, usually with humorous results. But Trump makes the concept of “gaff” entirely redundant. Because what any normal politician or human would be embarrassed to let slip is standard patter in Trumpland. We watch, wide eyed, laughing and slack jawed as he chainsaws acceptable standards of decency. How can we not laugh at gaffs he is proud of?
Because these gaffs happen all the time, and our eyes fill with tears of mirth – only a lifelong method comic actor, or a delusional person, can deliver lines like that with utterly no irony. It’s all too good, too natural, to be an act. Top that, Seinfeld.
From the beginning we’ve watched insane rallies shouted in rusty burgs, and read screeds of demented late night tweets. Looking back to last year when this farce began, first we thought it was a publicity stunt or a joke. Who, hearing that first “Mexican rapists and murders” blast-off speech didn’t think: “This can’t be serious, surely?” It was framed by a masterstroke of ironic prop comedy, the smooth descent down the golden escalator (!), with Melania trailing, her model’s face in that ever-frozen expression, her rare lines delivered in her master-race mid-European accent; “I am vis’ ze Don-uld.”
Of course, there’s an ethical angle here. Is it permissible to laugh at a man so obviously afflicted by a personality disorder, with such a child-like emotional setup? Isn’t it just cruel to mock a freak? Probably not, if the person holds himself out to become President, and besides, narcissists rarely ever believe they have a problem, a fact which makes them famously difficult for clinicians to treat. The American Psychiatric Association only included it in the D.S.M. in 1980 when it was decided the damage they do to those around them makes the disorder classifiable.
These personality traits, amusing as they are, are active symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder; the thin skin, the self-centeredness, self obsession, arrogance, attention seeking, bullying, entitlement, lack of empathy, and drama incitement.
Not so funny is the fact that this disorder, as former Harvard Medical School Dean Flier tweeted, “Defines Trump,” is uniformly disastrous in a leader. Think Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Libya’s Gadaffi, and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.
All attest to this type of personality in power. Saddam Hussein said it well in the mid-1980s: “The law is anything I write on a piece of paper.” It all ends badly of course – and narcissists don’t give up power easily. Usually it is either the end of them (their death), or the end of their state, marking the finality of their tragedies. As it will be for the United States if Trump wins. But if he wins, in the time before the inevitable – inevitable – impeachments for self dealing, war crimes, or various dishonest felonies (take your pick of high crimes) Trump’s could be our most hilarious presidency yet.
Originally Published: 2 November, 2016
Original Publisher: The Moderate Voice [original post]