By Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
Two light-haired, deadly serious anchors sit behind a news desk, delivering the latest on the race for the US presidential nominations in Finnish, with English subtitles: “Last week, after Powerful Tuesday, the Elephant Cowboys realised Mr Business Wig’s rage could not be stopped. He has such rage because his mini-hands lead to a mini-penis.” The two purport to be “Finland’s #8 News Team: the only source you need for the US election with the latest analysis of the GOP and Democratic contenders from a European perspective.” Though, in fact, thevideo came courtesy of the United States-based Funny or Die, a comedy site known for its parodies.
The Finnish-born actors – Ritva Dale and Steve Siltanen – helped refine the translation scripted by Funny or Die writers. It’s hilarious partly because beneath its silliness the sketch gets at a fundamental truth: the 2016 US presidential elections may look particularly ludicrous – some, including US Secretary of State John Kerry, would say downright embarrassing – to the rest of the world. And there’s no better way to tell what other countries think about the circus, led by Mr Business Wig himself, Donald Trump, than to look at the comedy they produce in response.
Comedian Ulrich von Heesen imagines that in a Trump presidency African-Americans will have ‘apologized for slavery’
Comedians around the world have plenty to say about this year’s US presidential contest, from broader commentary on American culture (many contend US presidential debates are laughably superficial) to pointed criticism of Trump’s rise. Canadians can’t help but use the opportunity to jab at their neighbours – and offer possible refuge for those fleeing a potential President Trump. And Bassem Youssef – known as ‘the Egyptian Jon Stewart’ and banned for his political satire in his own country – will soon debut an entire web series dedicated to skewering the election, The Democracy Handbook, on Fusion TV’s F Comedy platform.
French comedian Gad Elmaleh, who normally doesn’t draw much on politics for his act, has been essentially forced to pontificate on the American race for president since he happens to be touring the United States. Known as ‘the Jerry Seinfeld of France’, he took an observational-comedy approach when discussing US presidential debates on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore: like many other American phenomena, he said, the debates are too focused on efficiency, and pleasing audiences with short attention spans, to be substantive.