'He's Like A Self-Caricature': Peter Sagal on Donald Trump and Campaign Humor

Apr 12, 2016

It’s been a busy season for political analysts. The cable news channels are wall-to-wall with campaign news, and NPR has featured live coverage of primary election nights in many states, including Wisconsin.

And of course it’s been a busy season for political satire. From Saturday Night Live to Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, there have been countless sketches blasting candidates on both sides of the aisle.

Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! host Peter Sagal says GOP front-runner Donald Trump may seem like an easy mark, but coming up with material about him has been pretty difficult.

"You can't make up anything funny for humor purposes that he might do or say that he won't actually have already done or said," Sagal says. "He's just... he's so bizarre and extreme and exaggerated. He's like a self-caricature. There's nothing a comedian can come up with to mock him because he'll already go there and do it."

According to Sagal, part of the problem is Trump's sense of humor, or lack thereof. "You know that if he happened to hear you he wouldn't get it or appreciate it, cause he has no self awareness," says Sagal.

Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! avoids critiquing a candidate's policy, so it relies on poking fun at their personalities. Although this election season has been full of larger-than-life personalities, Sagal believes the realities of the current political climate have made it a hard topic to joke about.

"In a weird way, we're sort of beyond analysis, we're beyond anything that makes sense and it also makes it harder to joke about because for the same reason," he says. "How do you make jokes about chaos? It's like making fun of a car crash."

Sagal and the rest of the Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! gang were in Milwaukee for a live recording of the show at the Riverside Theater.