Home News Revisiting Comedy Central’s ‘Roast of Donald Trump,’ where the phrase ‘President Trump’...

Revisiting Comedy Central’s ‘Roast of Donald Trump,’ where the phrase ‘President Trump’ served as a punchline and Trump could take or leave any joke thrown his way


comedy central roast: Anne Hathaway and James Franco presided over an Oscars ceremony that seemed impossible to get more bizarre; The U.S. Senate deviated from its 10-year term limit to extend then-FBI Director Robert Mueller’s tenure; Donald Trump donned red tie as a series of entertainers (including Mike “The Situation”) insulted him for 90 minutes on “Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump.”

Time often has a way of making the past seem absurd and, in some cases, prescient, which was likely part of why CNBC pulled this program from its vaults for rebroadcast this week on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday nights (11 p.m. ET/PT). Furthermore, this weekend’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner provided another justification: an intimate gathering wherein a sitting president presides over dinner with journalists while an entertaining comedian cracks jokes at their expense.

As is his tradition, President Trump will abstain from attending this Saturday night’s event on C-SPAN (9:30 p.m. ET). Rising star Michelle Wolf, an alumna of “Daily Show,” will roast him from afar instead.

Seven years can make a huge difference, and Trump was no different. Perhaps age, power, or constant ridicule finally got to him and caused him to lose his sense of humor – or at least willing to pretend so in order to further his wealth, fame, or political aspirations as referenced during “The Roast.”

In the opening credits of “The Roast,” which chronicles a day in the life of Trump from his perspective (though he had no involvement), Trumpian touchstones such as a branded helicopter and a brief but pointed glance from a young blonde as they share their limousine ride to Trump Tower for deals to be struck and campaign posters approved, are immediately familiar and startling: As Trump leaves she gets kissed by an attractive beauty queen.

As the show commences, he enters on a golden golf cart flanked by models wearing sashes amid an explosion of cash, giving off the impression that he is not only amused by the joke but taking pleasure in it as well.

One constant in Trump’s public life has been his affinity for celebrity (see how quickly he accepted Kanye West’s praise on social media this week). And though his 2011 roast didn’t draw from the usual suspects like Sorrentino, Jeffrey Ross, Snoop Dogg, Lisa Lampanelli, and future producer of Trump-friendly “Roseanne” revival Whitney Cummings as well as Marlee Matlin and Larry King — he still manages to remain composed under pressure; at one point even puckers his face slightly in reference to an impression made during an appearance on “SNL”.

Trump the President typically avoids such confrontational rhetoric on Twitter and keeps his TV appearances to friendly, open-ended exchanges on “Fox & Friends.”

There are the classic jokes about his hair, wealth, and penchant for young women (which now has a darker hue after the “Access Hollywood” tape and Stormy Daniels news). But one of the most popular topics at that point was his shift into politics – something which had just started at that time.

Host Seth MacFarlane gently corrected him, “Not ‘I am running for president.'” And they laughed.

“Donald says he wants to run for president and move into the White House,” Snoop tells him during his brief appearance at the microphone. “Why not? It wouldn’t be the first time someone pushed a black family out of their home.” The crowd applauds, Ivanka covers her face in amusement, and Trump simply smiles as he gives Snoop a pat on the back after their set is complete.

Sport brings out the best in people, and Snoop Dogg is no exception; she always says something kind before each performance and every performer always follows up with something kind after their exchange of insults. Seven years later, Trump continues to target Snoop on Twitter; last year he labeled his music video about Trump “failing”.

It’s not simply whether Trump would now share the stage with these comedy central roast, but whether their chemistry would be mutual in spite of Trump’s often confrontational presidency.

Though it’s debatable whether Trump actually enjoyed himself during the roast (Cummings appeared on King’s show in 2017 to discuss this), he certainly took pleasure in its conclusion when, according to tradition, he gets the last word. Trump launched some insults of his own with off-script asides that generated applause from the audience in response. He even killed them with a profane joke about his hair which was reluctantly accepted with an “OK, very funny” response.

As the show draws to a close, Trump the campaigner appears from nowhere – promising a run that never materialized in 2012. Teasing an unlikely presidential run that never materialized in 2012, Trump tells his crowd, “You will have the great pleasure of voting for someone that will surely go down as one of America’s greatest presidents: Me!”

Time will ultimately decide who has the last laugh on this one.

H. Jon Benjamin of ‘Archer’ and ‘Bob’s Burgers’ knows it all comes down to his voice – and what an incredible voice it is!

Bill Hader breaks away from the “SNL” mold with HBO’s ‘Barry,’ the story of a hit man with an unusual dream.

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Chris Barton was a former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times who focused on TV, music, and pop culture.

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