How do you effectively satirize the most lampooned man on the planet? That's the daunting challenge facing "Our Cartoon President," a 10-episode Showtime series -- produced by Stephen Colbert -- that's receiving a State of the Union-timed online/on-demand preview prior to hitting the linear network.
Spun out from a recurring bit from Colbert's late-night show on CBS (which also happens to be Showtime's parent), the animated series has a goofy stylized look and a gifted Trump mimic in Jeff Bergman. There is also some quite-clever writing, courtesy of showrunner R.J. Fried, such as Trump saying during an address, "Each and every one of you voted for me, and the ones who didn't, you kinda wanted to see what would happen."
As Colbert and company well know, the dizzying pace of news coming out of the current administration has often flummoxed satirists, forcing late-night hosts to tear up and rewrite monologues at the last moment. Given recent headlines, some of the jokes practically write themselves.
Perhaps inevitably, there's thus a familiarity to much of the humor, such as Trump constantly regaling his cabinet with blow-by-blow recaps of his Electoral College victory; or his sons, Eric and Donald Jr., portrayed as a latter-day Beavis and Butt-head, admonished to limit their appearances to safe venues, like "Hannity."
Because Trump gets so much media attention, "Our Cartoon President's" funniest bits generally involve more peripheral targets, from the fawning hosts of "Fox & Friends" ("There's just something about this show," Trump gushes, as he watches it in bed) to White House policy director Stephen Miller, depicted cavorting with the forces of darkness.
The biggest hurdle for "Our Cartoon President" is the abundance of overlapping material that's available mocking Trump and his inner circle -- including, but hardly limited to, late-night comedy (among that Colbert's show); "Saturday Night Live;" and Comedy Central's "The President Show," which is really just a live-action cartoon.
For all that, the program's closest cousin might actually be "That's My Bush!," a 2001 series from the producers of "South Park" that attempted to turn then-President Bush and his family into a laughtrack-sweetened sitcom -- and awkwardly ran into some of the same problems.
"Until I get a better job, we're stuck here," Trump tells his wife, Melania.
While "Our Cartoon President" certainly has its moments, the best news for Showtime might be it's only stuck with this experiment in quick-turnaround animation, at least initially, for 10 weeks.
"Our Cartoon President" is available online and on demand starting Jan. 28 and premieres Feb. 11 at 8 p.m. on Showtime.
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