NEW YORK (AP) – From the perspective of late-night pranksters, there is really only one person running for president.
A whopping 97% of the jokes Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon told about the candidates in September were directed against President Donald Trump, according to an investigation released Monday.
That’s 455 jokes about Trump and 14 about Democrat Joe Biden, according to George Mason University’s Center for Media and Public Affairs. That doesn’t even count 64 jokes made about Trump’s family or administration, the study said.
“When Trump is on stage, everyone is being darkened,” said Robert Lichter, professor of communications at George Mason.
He has been studying late night humor and politics since 1992. Republicans are usually targeted more than Democrats by the comic writers, but the difference has never been greater. The closest thing to the 2016 campaign was, when Trump was the punchline for 78% of the jokes against Hillary Clinton’s 22%, the center said.
That’s good news if, like Biden, your goal is to essentially put Trump at the center of the campaign. However, it could be a real challenge for the comics if Biden beats Trump in next month’s election.
What should they make fun of?
“I think they will find a way to keep joking about Trump even after he leaves office,” said Lichter.
There is precedent for that. In 2001, late-night comedians made former President Bill Clinton the subject of more jokes than his successor, George W. Bush, Lichter said.