The in-studio audience during the 9:00 a.m. ET hour of NBC’s Today show on Tuesday did not find it funny when comedian Lewis Black compared Donald Trump’s presidency to having a “stroke.” After he made the joke, the hosts were clearly taken aback and only crickets could be heard from the audience.
After Black noted that he only had to “pick up the newspaper every day” to find material for his stand-up routine, co-host Al Roker wondered: “Is that hard? With everything that’s going on, it’s almost hard to do comedy about this because it’s so, in some ways, outrageous?” Black declared: “Well, I said, you know, they’ve always said about the President is, ‘He must be great for comedy.’ And I go, he’s great for comedy in a way that a stroke is good for a nap.”
The stunned hosts didn’t know how to react and not a single laugh was heard from the audience. Black acknowledged that the joke bombed: “Wow, guys. I am gonna tell you....I went for that....That has gotten a laugh everywhere in the United States....Everywhere, everywhere. How is that stunning?” He added: “And that will explain why I’ve never been on this show.”
In September of 2016, Black appeared on NBC’s Late Night With Seth Meyers to warn voters that anyone who supported Trump in the election would “go to hell.” Earlier that year, on ABC’s The View, he endorsed left-wing Senator Bernie Sanders, proudly declaring, “I’m a socialist.”
Here is a transcript of the November 27 exchange:
9:45 AM ET
SHEINELLE JONES: Tell me this, here’s the thing, this recent article noted, “Even after 30 years of rants and revelations, you’ve been able to keep your perspective fresh.” How do you do it?
LEWIS BLACK: How do I do it?
JONES: How do you do it?
BLACK: Because stupidity always changes.
JONES: Okay, well, there’s that.
BLACK: That’s the way you keep it fresh. Because one idiot shows up, it’s like whack-a-mole in this country.
JONES: Do you have to give yourself a break from it?
BLACK: Yeah, you do. You have to go away for a bit, get out of it. But most of the time it’s like – I pick up the newspaper every day and it’s like you go, “Wow, I don’t even have to – ” Fresh? They’re writing it for me.
AL ROKER: Is that hard? With everything that’s going on, it’s almost hard to do comedy about this because it’s so, in some ways, outrageous?
BLACK: Well, I said, you know, they’ve always said about the President is, “He must be great for comedy.” And I go, he’s great for comedy in a way that a stroke is good for a nap.
JENNA BUSH HAGER: Okay, let’s talk about –
BLACK: Wow, guys. I am gonna tell you –
HAGER: The audience went crazy.
BLACK: That is – I went for that.
BLACK: That has gotten a laugh everywhere in the United States.
HAGER: Oh, really?
BLACK: And that will explain why I’ve never been on this show. [Laughter]
HAGER: Well, you have to talk – well, we have a smaller audience.
BLACK: Everywhere, everywhere. How is that stunning?
ROKER: It is stunning.