Comedians have the right to mock politics

By Breanne Williams, Columnist
On October 19, 2016

Amy Schumer made multiple jokes during her show in Tampa about Donald Trump causing approximately 200 people to walk out in protest. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

Comedians are known for weaving their political and social stances into their routines. However, when Amy Schumer began criticizing presidential nominee Donald Trump during her show in Tampa on Sunday, approximately 200 people walked out. 

Last night, while performing at Madison Square Garden, Schumer read an open letter to Tampa, sarcastically apologizing that she dared to think her personal political views could offer a comedic outlook on the current election. 

“Dearest Tampa, I’m sorry you didn’t want me — a comedian who talks about what she believes in — to mention the biggest thing going on in our country right now,” Schumer read. “How could I think it was OK to spend five minutes having a peaceful conversation with someone with different views?”

The outrage expressed in a chorus of boos and the eventual walkout was not unique to Schumer’s performance. Saturday Night Live (SNL) has made humorous critiques of elections, politicians and lawsuits a foundation of the show. 

Tina Fey’s impression of Sarah Palin and Larry David’s Bernie Sanders created catch phrases that became renowned throughout the country, like Fey’s iconic reimaging of Palin’s claim that “I can see Russia from my house.”

Despite the biting humor, fans rarely complained, and Palin appeared multiple times on the show because she was able to recognize a joke. However, Alec Baldwin’s recent portrayal of Donald Trump has received backlash not only from his supporters but also the candidate himself. 

On Sunday, Trump tweeted, “Watched Saturday Night Live hit job on me. Time to retire the boring and unfunny show. Alec Baldwin portrayal stinks. Media rigging election!”

Apparently his supporters agreed, as many took to the internet to voice their frustrations with the sketch comedy show. However, the rest of the country appears to still have a level head and is able to appreciate a joke for what it is, causing viewership to increase by over 22 percent from last year with more than 7 million viewers tuning in to last week’s broadcast.

On Sunday, Schumer experienced a taste of the tension embodied in this debate when jokes about the candidate caused a chorus of boos to erupt throughout the theater. Schumer called Trump an “orange, sexual-assaulting, fake-college-starting monster” and brought a Trump supporter up on stage to ask why he was voting for Trump. 

“Do you get worried at all with how impulsive he is,” Schumer asked. “That he gets so fired up from Saturday Night Live doing a skit on him … do you worry he’ll be impulsive and get us in a lot of f—ing trouble we can’t get out of?”

The booing began and Schumer told the audience they were welcome to leave if they were that upset. They did just that. 

While Schumer is often a polarizing presence due to her raunchy and often offensive humor, her eclectic fans rarely speak out against her. Those who dislike her — as oh so many do — avoid her. 

In Tampa, over 200 people who obviously adored her enough to spend money on tickets chose to leave rather than hear her disparage their favored candidate. 

This election has fostered a passion previously absent from politics and has created an unprecedented division among voters. 

Liberals believe Trump is the most unqualified, repulsive candidate in U.S. history, and Republicans believe Hillary Clinton a devious liar who will say anything to get a vote. The majority of voters are not voting for a candidate, but rather against their opponent.

A Pew Research Center survey taken in August found 53 percent of Republican voters were voting against Clinton and 46 percent of Democrats were voting against Trump. That number has undoubtedly grown as the candidates continue to reduce themselves to bickering, school-yard-taunting children. 

The closer we get to Election Day, the tenser the atmosphere becomes. Obviously, viewers are no longer able to decipher comedy from politics and one can only speculate how they will react to SNL and other comedians critiquing the chaos that was last night’s debate.

 

Breanne Williams is a senior majoring in mass communications.

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