The Legendary Unlaughter of Donald J. Trump

Moira Marsh (Indiana University)

During the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, a story arose in the press suggesting that Donald Trump ran for President to get even for being publicly roasted at the White House Correspondents’ dinner in 2011. This narrative eventually took on the characteristics of a contemporary legend, circulating even more after President Trump’s inauguration, and still appearing to this day. This paper explores how and why a single comedy event was elevated to a political origin story. I trace the roots of this narrative to the American ideology of the sense of humor and its ritualized expression in the institution of the roast.

Part of 54-03 News, Politics, and Humor, Friday, October 22, 2:00 pm–3:30 pm