There’s nothing funnier than watching someone go on stage and take an enormous pratfall. Theoretically, watching an entire nation go on the global stage and take about fifty enormous pratfalls in a row should be funnier, but as Stephen Colbert’s look at our ongoing trade war with China and the upcoming war war with Iran we seem to be headed toward, it’s actually kind of depressing:
Some things just don’t scale, and “watching dumb, destructive people do dumb, destructive things” turns out to be one of them. It’s hard to know what a late night show is even supposed to be on this timeline, but when all of the latest news developments are about Donald Trump doing stupid and awful things that will have consequences that stretch beyond our lifetimes, there’s a cumulative effect that the traditional late night monologue form can’t really absorb. It feels like difference between watching someone get hit in the head once with a giant prop hammer and watching someone go to town on his own face with a sensibly sized ball-peen. Maybe our national commitment to stepping on one rake after another will someday go back around to being funny, like Sideshow Bob. Right now, though, it’s just rakes in the face.