Remember that scene in the original Dawn Of The Dead where the host of the last on-the-air TV talk show, addressing his off-camera remaining crew, reminds everyone that you still have to laugh every once in a while? While nobody’s saying that we’re in the zombie apocalypse (for one thing, the infected there don’t shout racial slurs), there were some eerie echoes during Stephen Colbert’s Monday monologue. The host, doggedly making jokes as a COVID-riddled Donald Trump returns to a White House decimated by that same virus, took undisguised sips of whatever was in his Late Show coffee mug, and the scattered off-camera chuckles of what sounds like his socially distanced three-person in-studio staff eerily reminded viewers of nights when a packed studio wasn’t an immediate hot spot on a CDC map.
The fact is that Colbert was discussing the inescapable fact that the chickens of governmental incompetence, murderous indifference, and megalomaniacal ass-covering were very much roosting all over the Trump Administration. In addition to Mrs. Trump, Trump’s campaign manager, Trump’s Press Secretary, Trump’s most ardent ass-kissing Republican senators, and closest advisors, lickspittles, and assorted spokes-liars, (plus Secret Service agents and household staff who are just doing their jobs), Colbert noted that, as of yesterday, the White House halls can now count a shambling, gasping-for-breath, joy-riding, balcony-preening Trump among its denizens. “Released into the wild,” is how Colbert put it, although “released” might be less accurate than “jail-broke against the wishes and advice of every medical professional except his own, incompetently dishonest osteopath Dr. Sean Conley.” Playing clips of the comically shifty Conley trying to weasel out of repeated direct questions about Trump’s health (Conley finally admitted he was trying to buck up his patient by not revealing accurate information), Colbert admonished, “You can’t ‘change the course of an illness’ by lying about it. That’s why it’s called Make-A-Wish, not Everything’s Fine, Mark Ruffalo Just Wants To Meet You!”
So everyone associated with Donald Trump lies. What’s so worthy of apocalyptic dark comedy about that? Well, maybe it’s that—thanks to experimental drug treatments not available to anyone else on the planet—the still-contagious, 74-year-old toilet-rage-tweeter with the nuclear codes is taking, among other things, Dexamethasone. As Colbert noted with a practiced, joking-through-the-terror aplomb, proven side effects of the unproven COVID treatment and mega-steroid include psychosis, delirium, and mania. Or, as Colbert put it to the gallows delight of those ghostly off-camera figures, “Warning: May cause Donald Trump.” Colbert also noted that the drug can also cause a burning anus, because you have to find your yucks where you can.
Breaking down the timeline of the White House outbreak, Colbert implicated Chief Of Staff Mark Meadows for leaking and ineptly lying about it, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany for infecting two days’ worth of the White House press corps, and Donald Trump, for putting out a video absolutely guaranteed to cause an uptick of videos of irate, red-faced white people screeching that they don’t need to wear a mask at this Arby’s, because the president said so. Scoffing (and swigging) at the videoed, unmasked Trump saying his sleepaway camp with COVID finally taught him how darned serious is the disease that’s killed 200 thousand Americans on his watch, Colbert impersonated noted solipsist Trump protesting, “How could I know that those people were real if they weren’t me?” As to exact-opposite-of-a-doctor Trump’s medical advice to not let the worldwide pandemic that’s brought the nation to its knees “dominate your life,” Colbert could only soldier on, joking that Aaron Sorkin’s The Infest Wing should be hitting your TV screens soon enough. Ha, ha, haaa—drink.