Comedy Central President Kent Alterman had a cheeky chat with British comedian Jimmy Carr here at the Edinburgh International Television Festival today, which also turned to the serious business of covering Donald Trump.
Asked if there was concern that the overall amount of Trump-focused comedy takes away from the gravity of the world’s current political situation, Alterman said: “It’s easy to fall into this pattern — the cliché of the echo chamber. It’s easy to look across the late-night landscape where everyone is making the same kind of jokes. My opinion is that our shows and talent are being responsible and shining light on implications as well as making fun of it.”
He noted that since the U.S. presidential election in November, Comedy Central has received “an onslaught” of pitches for shows about Trump, “from animated to fake reality to scripted. We said ‘no’ to all except one.”
That would be The President Show, created by and starring Trump impersonator Anthony Atamanuik.
“The show we said yes to is responsible,” Alterman said. “Anthony is doing a deep psychological impression of him. He is very conversant with policy, and his creative team are doing a great job of being responsible. The reason it’s funny is because it’s tapping into what’s happening and the implications.”
The exec continued that he would say the same thing of The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah and The Jim Jeffries Show’s eponymous host.
Speaking about supporting shows like South Park, which can take comedy to extremes, Alterman said that although they are vetted, “We’re not in the business of censoring people, we’re in the business of empowering people. As much as comedy can be fun and frivolous, it serves a really important service. … The court jester was the only one who could speak truth to the king. It helps process society. It reflects society. We take that really seriously.”