Saturday, July 29, 2017

The President Show

I don't do much in the way of promoting basic-cable teevee programs, but Comedy Central's The President Show has been one of the best things about summer so far. Princess Snowflake's endless candidacy and now regime of daily fuckuppery has provided a rich goldmine of content for late night hosts, Daily Show defectors, and such like. Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert have been hitting on all cylinders the last six months. Samantha Bee has provided intelligent catharsis via angry snark, and John Oliver has carved a solid niche with his HBO show, primarily by tackling in-depth topics that our sound-bite media entities no longer bother with.

But with TPS, creator Anthony Atamanuik has done something a little bit different. For one, his Snowflake impression is spot-on, far better than anyone else's that I've seen (and I like Alec Baldwin's impression, but Atamanuik's is way better). Atamanuik honed his take for a year or so, on the road with Bernie Sanders impersonator James Adomian, so both players had their targets dialed in pretty well. Even better is that each TPS episode ends with a rather serious "big picture" monologue in the Snowflake voice, which is weird and unsettling, but perfect all the same. And Mario Cantone nailed Da Mooch in the most recent episode.

It will be interesting to see what sort of art will be produced under this regime of disillusionment and indifference and societal despair. It's not just about the daily fodder provided by the inept antics of the bozos in charge right now; it's about the conditions that allowed such people within a thousand feet of any position of responsibility, much less the White House. As I said shortly after the election, the real shock many of us felt was in trying to figure out which was worse --  that the result was a warning about what kind of nation we were becoming, or a reminder of what we've always been.

It sounds pretentious, but it's true all the same:  art can help illuminate the dark corners of our ongoing collective cathexis, and maybe even turn that grim fixation into something productive or useful, even just as a warning. A record number of Democratic candidates will be running for state and federal office next year, and that's a start right there. But artists are supposed to be a barometer of the culture (or a niche) as it stands, and where it's headed.

Comedians are always way out in front on this sort of thing, acting in real time, and writers won't be too far behind. Music and movies will be way behind the curve; if they check in at all, it will be indie projects. The only major music acts anymore are auto-tuned, song-doctored douchebags, and ancient retreads milking the last few bucks out of their aging fan-bases. Movies are even worse, as it seems that the only major movies getting green-lit anymore are franchises, reboots, and animated Hero's Journey template iterations.

TPS is still a little rough around the edges (which actually is part of the fun), seeing as it's only aired about a dozen episodes so far. But it started strong, has improved steadily, and mines its subject with skill and glee. Check it out, support it, tell your friends, even your Clownstick-supporting friends. They probably won't watch it, but you never know.

1 comment:

Dr. Faustus of said...

Watch comics, especially independent and webcomics. Those can be made relatively cheap and fast, and as they're often the product of a single creator (or a small group of creators) they can be sharp and idiosyncratic in a way that mass media seldom are.