Protecting the Earth may not be a laughing matter, nor, for many Americans, is the outcome of the presidential race.
Even so, comedians including Seth Meyers, John Oliver and George Lopez delivered jokes Wednesday night to benefit the Natural Resources Defense Council. And also to provide those in attendance at the New York event — clearly not a Donald Trump crowd — a bit of solace.
Meyers, host of NBC’s “Late Night,” even voiced a bit of hope for how the Trump administration might turn out.
“I have been wrong about him every step of the way,” Meyers said. Wrong that Trump wouldn’t run; wrong that he wouldn’t get the GOP nomination; wrong that he wouldn’t win.
“The good news is, based on my pattern of getting it all wrong, he’s going to be a great (darn) president!”
The benefit for NRDC — a nonprofit advocacy group dedicated to clean air, clean water and healthy communities — was billed as “the place to be the night after the presidential election.” But clearly the original plan had been to celebrate Hillary Clinton’s election. When Trump pulled his upset win, it caught the comedians, like nearly everybody else, by surprise.
In fact, news of Trump’s victory sent many citizens, including standup Mike Birbiglia, straight to their computers.
“We were all Googling ‘What do you do when someone who talks like a dictator takes over your country?'” Birbiglia joked. “And all the results were in Korean.”
Will America manage with Trump as chief executive? “That’s a difficult question to answer,” mused Oliver, host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight.”
George Lopez performs onstage during the Natural Resources Defense Council’s ‘NRDC’s Night of Comedy’ Benefit with Seth Meyers, John Oliver, George Lopez, Mike Birbiglia and Hasan Minhaj on November 9, 2016 in New York Cit (Getty Images)
But in its favor, he proposed, is the fact that America is “a defiant nation.” As an example of its national defiance, he reported that during the devastating financial crisis of 2009, Americans spent $310 million on Halloween costumes — for their pets.
Hasan Minhaj, a senior correspondent for Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” is American-born to Muslim parents who originally came from India.
“For the past 15 years I’ve been blamed for 9/11,” he said. But referring to Wednesday’s date, when Trump’s victory was clenched, he added, “White Americans are now responsible for ’11/9.'”
Lopez, an American-born standup whose humor draws on his Mexican heritage, invoked Trump’s pledge to crack down on immigrants. Upon arriving on stage Lopez told his audience, “I can’t stay long.” A pause. “I’d LIKE to, but I don’t think I have anything to say about it.”
But as he was speaking, he produced a sheet of paper.
“This isn’t my notes,” he said. “It’s my birth certificate.”