laugh track
October 11, 2016

Only one kind of joke was officially off limits at Donald Trump's 2011 Comedy Central roast, but many others were crossed out or rewritten by Trump himself, The Huffington Post reports. "I have done this a long time and nobody blacks out punchlines," comedy writer Jesse Joyce recalled, adding that sometimes Trump's edits showed "a classic lack of an understanding of how a joke works."

Trump made a few lackluster attempts at cracking wise. He changed a joke meant to slam [Seth] MacFarlane from: "The only way you'll ever draw a crowd is with a pencil." Trump's revision: "The only crowd you'll attract is flies."

After a joke that cited climate change, Trump suggested a parenthetical: "(Which obviously doesn't exist)."

Elsewhere, Trump suggested a broadside against the entire dais: "Their all losers and I like associating with loser because it makes me feel even better about myself." (The grammar mistakes are Trump's.)

Even in a script designed to be self-effacing, Trump couldn't resist boosting himself. At the conclusion of the rebuttal, in an exaggerated (even by Trumpian standards) riff about how he lives in a "25,000 square-foot penthouse atop my solid-gold space station," Trump ordered that the square footage be goosed to 50,000. He changed a line that read, "I'm sorry, I must go now and make a million dollars somewhere else," to a "billion" dollars. [The Huffington Post]

Comedy Central's senior vice president Jonas Larsen admitted Trump struggled with understanding humor: "One thing that stuck out to me during rehearsal is he would always poll the people around him if they thought it was funny. He never really seemed to have a grasp on what was funny and why it was funny. He was always looking at others to validate if it was funny," Larsen said.

Perhaps that explains why Trump and his allies have frequently claimed that his offensive campaign gaffes are "jokes, "sarcasm," or "quips." Read more about the process of writing Trump's Comedy Central roast, including how the comedians talked Trump into making fun of his hair, at The Huffington Post. Jeva Lange

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