By Isabella Skvarla
For sometime, politicians in this country have been criticized and mocked by comedians, regardless of their party. Whether on Saturday Night Live or The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, comedians have demonstrated that all people have an opinion about how our country is governed.
A prime example of this is Jimmy Kimmel’s coverage of the repeal and replace effort against the American Healthcare Act. During his monologue, Kimmel used the example of his son, Billy, who was born with a congenital heart disorder, to explain to viewers that if the proposed bill passed, individuals with medical conditions like Billy’s would be turned down for healthcare coverage when they were older.
One of the most impactful lines from Kimmel’s monologue was, “If your baby is going to die and it does not have to, it should not matter how much money you make.” By making this statement, Kimmel raised awareness of how the American people would be impacted by the proposed bill. But, to what extent does the commentary of these comedians impact the lawmakers who have to either approve or disapprove of these laws?
Writers for television programs feel that the political climate is impacted by comedians. Lizz Winstead, a co-creator of The Daily Show, which is hosted by Trevor Noah, says in an article published by NPR that the production of comical shows can help politicians begin conversations about serious and delicate issues, as well as humanize the politician.
On NPR, Winstead said, “If you can disarm someone with humor, normally, they think, you know what? I might like this person. This person seems kind of nice. They generally might at least listen to your point of view rather than shutting you out. And I think that - I just think it's a good way to approach sometimes even really tough issues, because you can get people engaged in a conversation through humor.”
The idea behind this stems from the serious demeanor that politicians are expected to keep, and many feel that if this expression is not held, then politicians will look weak and will not be respected by their constituents.
While it is important for politicians to be well liked by those they represent, they must also keep a certain degree of maturity in their work. A fight between a politician and a comedian over a comment is not appropriate, and it is the obligation of all people to question the actions of those in power. For example, President Trump sued comedian Bill Maher over a joke that Maher made during his show, Real Time With Bill Maher, back in 2013. Although the joke was intended to be funny, President Trump did not see it that way at the time and proceeded to sue Maher for five million dollars. Although these events took place prior to Trump running for office, some said that the actions still made Trump look immature.
As for comedians, many of them have realized that their words will impact the opinions of their viewers to some extent. However, whether or not that change in opinion is seen when voters go to the polls is a different story that depends on the region and state. Comedians have an enormous amount of power over a relatively high percentage of the American electorate. Thus, it is imperative that they understand the ramifications of their words.