Extra, Extra Funny: When Journalists Aim For The Punchline

In times of crisis, when there is only darkness, heroes will rise. When facts don’t matter, when shame is non-existent, and when the ignorant take over, our hope for salvation rests in the hands of a few clever, upstanding comedians. And, I guess, some journalists.

Now, sure it’s not as though politicians and pundits and diplomats were pure and righteous before the 2016 presidential election, but wow, the absurd has made great lengths since then. It really is staggering. The current White House administration will surely leave at least one legacy: being the most ridiculous, eye-roll-worthy, cringe-inducing government in history.

In turn, though, their actions have yielded some great rebuttals from those enlisted in protecting truth: comedians. Oh right, and the journalists. Those mocking the ones in power, calling out lies and deceits and hypocrisy, have triumphed over the last year, delivering both the funny and the insightful. It takes a special kind of comedian (and, I suppose, journalist) to pair together double speak, to cull history as a means of pointing out present day toils, and to take the time to find the funniest possible joke for any given scenario. There is a lot of low hanging fruit out there with the current administration, but we all must be better than what is offered. There are some exceptionally funny jokes to be made.

The following are some of the most outrageous political moments of the last many months, and those who rose to the occasion to mock them mercilessly.

Bowling Green

Lest we forget. Kellyanne Conway, a White House counsellor who appears on TV to either endorse or contradict what the administration says, publicly offered a chilling perspective about ‘the masterminds of the Bowling Green Massacre.’ Of course, the Bowling Green Massacre was not a thing, and in turn she united so many people who needed a laugh.

The L.A. Times was on it, wondering what so many others were: how soon is too soon to make jokes of this fictitious tragedy?

Frederick Douglas

There is a recurring theme of the White House not exacting knowing history (or the present, for that matter). It became really clear that the President had no idea who Frederick Douglas was, or even that the man was rather than is; Trump suspiciously seemed to have no idea that Douglas has been deceased for over a century. It seems pretty clear that he had just heard the name Frederick Douglas that day and couldn’t wait to tell people about it, as if he were a grade school student giving a book report based on reading half of the Cliff Notes.

The exceedingly funny Andy Borowitz of The New Yorker was on it, as he tends to be, offering a thought as to why the President believed Douglas to be alive, lampooning along with him another White House advisor.


For six hours in the middle of one unforgettable night, a tweet by the President hung in the air and captured the bewilderment, amusement, and concern of the entire nation. It garnered a reaction not unlike the nation’s hypothetical response to a random UFO appearing over D.C. that is, if the spacecraft was clearly piloted by a harried, sleep-deprived orange alien.

Many in the Twittersphere offered fabulous explanations for yet another new word coined by this administration: ‘covfefe.’ And while there were tons of hilarious responses, it seems that this headline by The New York Times is incredibly telling, if for no other reason than causing us to reflect back on this time last year and imagine our reaction to seeing such a statement. What world are we living in now?


It’s become unnervingly clear that the President operates as though he is constantly in a dramatic scene in House of Cards, where everything is about power and influence. That’s why he shakes hands like a lunatic. Time and time again, world leaders and politicians have been at the awkward end of his forceful, bizarre, and uncomfortably long handshakes. Unless, of course, you’re Angela Merkel, because apparently women aren’t equally deserving of handshakes.

Before Emmanuel Macron and Justin Trudeau were able to outmaneuver the President on such important matters, John Oliver, as he does so well, addressed this absurd occurrence.

Alternative Facts

Another memorable moment by Kellyanne Conway featured her putting forth a new phrase that has become part of our lexicon, whether we like it or not. ‘Alternative facts,’ previously known as lies, falsehoods, fabrications, or mistakes, were ushered in to help those struggling with reality feel better about themselves.

Seth Meyers, who has over the last year thrust himself into political discourse with his ‘A Closer Look’ segments, had plenty of potent and hilarious insights to make on this sudden shift in how we deal with the world.

People Hiding

We are not yet six months into this Presidency, but the administration has already featured the same number of rejected travel bans, National Security Advisors, and accounts of prominent people trying to hide behind things.

That’s right: both Press Secretary Sean Spicer and former FBI Director James Comey tried to hide—the former from the press and the latter from President Trump—in what became very public accounts that were outrageously absurd. It’s almost unclear which is funnier. Comey wore blue at a White House Event and inexplicably thought the President wouldn’t notice his six-foot-plus body trying to blend in with blue curtains.

Perhaps, though, Spicer is more humorous, if only because he is inherently more accidentally comedic, and he tried to hide from the President as well — in the bushes. Er, among the bushes, as this hilarious retraction in The Washington Post stated.


Whereas sometimes the White House makes up words, there are others within the administration who don’t quite know what some mean. The President’s daughter and advisor professed to not knowing exactly what the word ‘complicit’ meant, prompting Twitter, as well as Merriam Webster, to help her out.

Perhaps the best joke to come out of this, though, was from the savvy writers of SNL, with the help of Scarlett Johansson.


The Orb

Really, who thought this picture was a good idea?


Anthony Marcusa
Anthony Marcusa is a Toronto-based freelance journalist whose writing dabbles in film, TV, music, sports, and relationships – though not necessarily in that order. He’s simultaneously youthfully idealistic and curmudgeonly cynical. But he’s always curious.