“This is such a special event that I took a break from my rigorous nap schedule to be here,” cracked Clinton to a room full of laughs.
You’ve probably seen the headlines by now. Trump and Clinton made fun of each other (and themselves, as per above) last night at a charity dinner. It was a recipe for the comedic relief I’m not sure I wanted: one part horrible, two parts funny, three parts weird. Combine and bake at 375 for slightly begrudged enjoyment.
The setting was the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, commonly known as the Al Smith Dinner. Which, according to Wikipedia, is “an annual white tie fundraiser for Catholic charities supporting needy children held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York.” Or as the Times put it: “[A] presidential campaign ritual of levity and feigned warmth.”
The event is often the last time presidential opponents share a stage before the election, and a mutual roast is part of the tradition. After so many months wrought with political tension liable to rob me of my optimism, a little humor sounded nice. And when I watched this cut of Clinton and Trump’s best jokes, I found myself chuckling in spite of myself:
At the 35-second mark: “You know the president told me to stop whining, but I really have to say the media is even more biased this year than ever before. Ever,” Trump said. “You want the proof? Michelle Obama gives a speech and everyone loves it. It’s fantastic. They think she’s absolutely great. My wife Melania gives the exact same speech and people get on her case.”
That’s actually…funny? “We can appreciate a moment of levity,” my editor assured me via text this morning. “It’s okay to laugh.”
WHY DID THIS FEEL SO WEIRD THOUGH? Pausing to get a chuckle out of all this feels a little bit like laughing with the bully after getting a swirly. But also, there was something refreshing about seeing Trump as least partially recognize his own flaws, something the country has been hard-pressed to get him to do over the past year. And it was refreshing to see both candidates tip their hats, somewhat good-naturedly, at some of the most absurd talking points of this election.
It was kind of nice, but mostly weird. So, what about you? Did you watch? Did it make you feel a way?
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