Little more than a year ago, satirist Armando Iannucci tweeted a joke about Donald Trump that sent the social networking site into meltdown. The Veep creator proposed a film idea, in which Trump is drugged and moved to a replica White House, where he carries on playing at being president while surrounded by Truman Show-style actors.
“Studios, your highest bid please,” was the call to action he signed-off his tweet with, and days later, Deadline revealed that Iannucci had several meaningful offers on the table from U.S. studios. In an interview on Tuesday at a TV conference in London, Iannucci said he got 12 offers in total, but in news that will sadden his 620,000-strong Twitter following, he explained why he snubbed every single one of them.
It boiled down to three reasons, Iannucci said at Digital UK’s Outside The Box event. The first was simple: “I just didn’t want to spend a year with Donald Trump.” The second reason, he added, was a little harder to define. Iannucci said the clamor for his idea, and the speed with which he received offers, spoke to something “subversive and unpredictable” in modern culture.
“The fact you can tweet something and within 24 hours people can be making these quite strategically momentous decisions about what their studios are going to make actually slightly scared me,” said Iannucci, who is currently promoting his feature The Personal History Of David Copperfield.
Iannucci’s final reason for turning down the Trump movie was because he thinks the U.S. president is quite simply beyond satire — and that means comedians have to switch up the rules of engagement to land their blows.
He said: “The problem I have with Donald Trump is that satire or comedy is about exaggeration, distortion… But that’s what Donald Trump does. When he talked about finding [Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi… it was like this jazz riff on nothing. He is providing his own entertainment, he’s obsessed with ratings. That’s what he is, a salesman. He’s a self-basing satirist. He is parodying himself.
“The comedians who have had the most [joy] on addressing somebody like Trump are the ones who have become kind of like journalists, like John Oliver. They have a team of researchers who go through the archives, so instead of making jokes about Trump, they… feel like they have to provide some kind of argument, some kind of essay behind it. It’s almost like Trump is the comedian and the comedians have become the journalists.”
Iannucci did offer a glimmer of hope, however, for fans of his Trump movie pitch. He told the audience of TV executives that he might return to the idea in “30 years,” when Trump is long gone from the White House.