After Iran’s recent ballistic missile test, Donald Trump announced, in a totally appropriate and completely presidential manner, that the United States is “formally” putting the country “ON NOTICE.”
That’s a strange announcement to make for so many reasons but not least because Trump’s national security adviser, who used the same phrase, hadn’t yet announced that the U.S. would be taking any military or diplomatic actions against Iran in response, making the warning seem like empty, potentially dangerous rhetoric. (The Treasury Department has since announced sanctions.) But Stephen Colbert noticed something even odder about the phrase—that Trump has seemingly been stealing material from his Comedy Central show, The Colbert Report.
See, on the show, Colbert played a fictional version of himself, also named Stephen Colbert, an “over-the-top TV character who’s desperate to be loved, doesn’t believe in facts, and has a pet eagle,” a description that applies pretty well to our current commander in chief. “Plus, we both ran for president,” pointed out Colbert, who announced his candidacy on The Colbert Report in 2007 and seriously attempted to get himself on the ballot in South Carolina. “Only one of us knew it was a joke.”
Trump putting Iran “on notice” is another Colbert-copycat move, since the character had a recurring segment in which he would literally add his enemies’ names to an On Notice board. On Thursday on the Late Show, Colbert dug out that very same board—after retrieving it from his scene designer’s parents’ house in Massachusetts—specifically so he could add Trump’s name to it for stealing his jokes. (Still on notice: grizzly bears.) Colbert isn’t the first to notice how closely Trump resembles satire, but he missed a much more important point: If Trump really is mimicking the fictional Colbert’s riffs, then instead of the State of the Union address, we can soon expect regular presidential segments of Tip of the Hat/Wag of the (Short, Stubby) Finger.