Friday, November 6, 2015
The Trump Factor
A lot of folks are coming out against Donald Trump's upcoming appearance on SNL. Lorne Michaels couldn't ask for greater publicity. I'm sure Saturday Night Live will enjoy its highest ratings in years, if not ever, with the human hair piece taking center stage for an hour-and-a-half. I wonder if REM will be there as musical guests?
Michaels has long liked to generate controversy, especially when much of the humor evaporated from the show. Take for instance the Sarah Palin impersonations from the 2008 campaign. Tina Fey eventually caught on as to what it was all about and dropped the role. It was nothing more than a ratings grabber and earned Palin quite a bit of support in the process. All calculated, to be sure, as Michaels is a Republican. He actively supported McCain in 2008.
It's not like Republicans take a joke better than Democrats. Both Palin and McCain were notably upset by the Palin impersonations. You don't hear Obama or Hillary whining about the numerous caricatures of themselves. For the better part of two terms, Phil Hartman gave us a very amusing impersonation of Bill Clinton, which Bill repeatedly laughed off. Hartman even took a stab at Trump all those years ago.
Rather, Michaels knows that these characterizations help political candidates gain greater recognition, not so much because a great many people watch SNL, but because the sketches are immediately picked up on the Internet and go viral the next day, as the Tina Fey/Sarah Palin sketches did. That will be the case with Trump as well, although Trump's appearance will also help to salvage a flagging show that long ago saw its better days.
The Trump Factor will go down in the annals of television history. He has boosted ratings across the board. Even John Oliver, who never planned to invite Trump on his show, will no doubt enjoy a boost thanks to the Donald calling him out recently. Ever since Trump entered the race, television and twitter has never been the same. The guy has turned the media literally on its ear.
No one would have ever taken any interest in the GOP debates had it not been for Trump. Despite all the sharp criticisms, CNBC enjoyed its biggest night ever thanks to the Donald. This is why Trump is negotiating his own deals with the networks, including this return to NBC after their high profile breakup. However, the RNC is now dropping NBC over the last debate.
There is no way to escape Trump, which is more upsetting than his highly publicized appearance on Saturday Night Live. The guy is everywhere and there seems to be no way to shake him. Even in Lithuania, he appears repeatedly on the news. He's a big hit in Russia, and has earned the praise of Vladimir Putin no less. Apparently, the feeling is mutual. You can see the two getting along swimmingly well, just like Putin and Silvio Berlusconi, but hopefully it won't be as fellow world leaders.
SNL can have Trump, and Ben Carson too, who I'm sure will come up repeatedly on the show now that he has offered his theoretical observations on the uses of pyramids. This appearance will probably help Trump regain his control of the GOP leader board, provided he doesn't go overboard on Carson. For the time being, Michaels will have to make do with Ben Carson impersonations, as the good doctor has said no to any such appearances himself. Dr. Ben believes that running for president is a serious matter.
At least, Trump knows how to have a good time. I suppose that is his primary appeal. It certainly isn't his political savvy. He's enjoying this ride and will no doubt take it as far as he can into the primaries, as he hasn't had to pay for much of this publicity. In fact, quite the opposite as his "brand appeal" has never been so high.