Clinton the comedian: Will late-night jokes broaden her appeal?

18 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Hillary Clinton, Jimmy Fallon Mock Donald Trump In Skit.

It has been difficult for Hillary Clinton to seem relaxed and at ease on the campaign trail, especially as questions about her use of a private email server as secretary of state have dominated. NEW YORK (CBS DC) – Wednesday on “The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon,” Hillary Clinton joined in on a segment of the show before her interview.

In Billboard’s most recent issue, Jimmy Fallon talks about all things late-night, specifically the time Justin Bieber backed out on doing a sketch at the last minute.Wednesday night, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton stopped by the Tonight Show after the GOP debate to hit some major talking points of her own, as Jimmy Fallon dusted off his toupee to once again expertly imitate Donald Trump. She first appeared in a skit in which the host, Jimmy Fallon, dressed as Trump, called her on the phone to catch up, offer campaign advice, and provide a set-up for her to discuss the many ways that she has fought for women’s rights throughout her long career in public service.

In addition to grilling Clinton on women’s rights and immigration reform, Fallon’s “Donald” offered some helpful campaign tips—chief among them, to yell more: “I yell all the time. Over the course of this wacky yet still young presidential campaign, we’ve seen Defensive Hillary, Elusive Hillary, Exasperated Hillary, High-Handed Hillary, Non-Responsive Hillary and, of course, Combative Hillary.

Later, during the interview portion of her appearance, she and Fallon joked about Trump’s hair (she invited Fallon to touch hers) and mocked his stream-of-consciousness speaking style. Helping NBC’s cause in latenight on Wednesday was its dominant performance in primetime, as the season finale of the Peacock’s “America’s Got Talent” delivered about four times the number of young adults as either ABC or CBS programming in the 10:30 p.m. half-hour. In fact, this phone isn’t even plugged in; I’m just yelling, and you’re hearing me.” After sitting through a few minutes of bloviating, Clinton does what many would do—reaches for a glass of wine.

The beleaguered Democratic frontrunner—who in recent months has watched her poll numbers slide and voter perceptions of her trustworthiness erode amid the low-grade fever of the state department email scandal—looked genuinely ecstatic to be a guest on NBC’s top-rated late-night franchise. Fallon talked about Bernie Sanders going bald and Clinton responded with, “Well, at least he doesn’t have just one strand that he twirls over his head like a soft serve at Dairy Queen.” Fallon then say’s jokingly, “Toupee… I mean, touché.” Noting that Trump and other Republican candidates have never held political office, Fallon asked Clinton, “Is this possible, that you have too much experience to become the President of the United States?” The questions did not get harder hitting from there.

And in metered-market household overnights, last night’s “Tonight Show” earned a 3.2 rating/8 share, well ahead of “Late Show” (2.2/6) and “Jimmy Kimmel” (1.6/4), the third time in the last four nights that Fallon has moved ahead. And she arrived in a hot-pink sweater, black slacks, and plenty of baubles and bangles, with her game-face on, spreading her arms wide for a hug and kiss from Fallon and waving to the excited studio audience.

Her perceived stiffness is something Saturday Night Live dug into early on in her campaign with a parody skit showing her at a beach in a pantsuit, trying to appeal to young voters. On Wednesday’s show, Fallon ended up interviewing Clinton twice — first in his signature Trump hairdo, when he “called” Clinton at home, and then on stage. She posted videos showing her talking to “regular” people in Iowa and elsewhere. (Though, as NPR’s Tamara Keith reported, she was actually talking to hand-picked supporters.) And her campaign recently announced it’s spending $2 million in ads to air “getting-to-know-you” ads in Iowa and New Hampshire. And then, after a commercial, in her second segment on the show, she listened empathetically as Fallon described the emotional wrench of leaving his young daughter at her first day of pre-school. And she told a warm anecdote about her habit of strolling incognito outside the White House as first lady—sporting a baseball cap and sunglasses to avoid being recognized—and accommodating a family of tourists who handed her their camera and asked her to please snap their photo in front of the Executive Mansion.

The show started with a faux phone conversation between Donald Trump (played by Jimmy Fallon in full costume) and Clinton (played by Clinton herself). After all, the headline on the Times story was: “Hillary Clinton to Show More Humor and Heart, Aides Say.” Clinton’s only conspicuous misstep—and a potentially endearing one at that—was when she referred to Fallon’s house band, The Roots, as just plain “Roots.” Of course, maybe Clinton was simply anticipating the moment (the one that will probably be shown on a tape loop all day Thursday on cable news programs) in which Fallon would lay hands on her expensively done coiffure. “Have you ever been able to touch his hair?” Clinton asked the late-night comedian about last week’s guest, Republican frontrunner Trump—a huge topic of conversation for Clinton even though he was elsewhere, debating his rival candidates at the Reagan Library. “Have you ever really touched it?” “Of course!” Fallon agreed, and then, when the candidate tilted her head toward him, not only touched it, but dug his hand into it, grabbed a hank of it, and gently pulled.

It was up 135% in adults 18-49 (0.94 vs. 0.40), 209% in adults 18-34 (0.68 vs. 0.22), 125% in adults 25-54 (0.68 vs. 0.22) and 95% in total viewers (4.45 million vs. 2.28 million). Fallon: “You know, this is a huge election, you never know what might happen, let’s get rid of the people who don’t agree with us, and only talk to the people who do,” Clinton said, mimicking Trump. Clinton was reportedly offered a spot on Colbert’s first show, which aired last week, but her campaign team turned it down. (Perhaps they were worried that he would ask a coherent question about the e-mails; he probably would have.) So the invitation went to Jeb Bush, who, during an oddly paced conversation, earned from Colbert some lukewarm and circuitous praise. “There is a nonzero chance that I would consider voting for you,” Colbert said, causing Bush to pause for a moment, taken aback, perhaps thinking that the host had said “a zero chance.” But such scorn from Colbert was instead reserved for Trump, who is unlikely to appear on “The Late Show” any time soon.

Instead, on Friday, it will be Bernie Sanders, who earlier this summer went on “Late Night with Seth Meyers.” There, Meyers began the interview by making fun of Sanders’s hair, but then, remembering perhaps that he is supposed to be the intelligent late-night alternative (or is that Colbert now?), led a substantive conversation about economic inequality. Digitally, the premiere episode of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” marked the best series debut ever for any CBS show in terms of full episode streams on and the CBS apps – even topping all CBS primetime shows – and broke “The Late Show’s” previous traffic records on both platforms. When Fallon asked about the email flap—a subject he addressed in the monologue, joking that Clinton’s security detail had spent the day at 30 Rock “sweeping all the hard-drives”—she gave her well-rehearsed answers, but more enthusiastically than ever. All of the candidates—including those among the herd of Republicans in the race, some of whom have started their own late-night tours—have the misfortune of campaigning to replace an all-star yakker, Barack Obama, who looks more comfortable on talk-show sets than at least half of the guys (yes, still all guys) currently behind the desks.

Then, while delivering her much-disputed interpretations of what was and was not classified top-secret on her private server, she diverted the discussion, with the cooperation of her interlocutor, into talk about a very important email concerning gefilte fish. Her heartiest laugh, punctuated by a slapping-together of hands, came when Fallon told her: “You’re a tough mother!”—suggesting a four-syllable word that can’t be uttered on network television. “I wouldn’t mess with you. Trump might have made more of a splash on Jimmy Kimmel’s show, which, like Fallon’s, produces reliably shareable moments, but with a touch more vinegar thrown in. Then again, the invitation might not be forthcoming: Kimmel doesn’t seem to like Trump much. (An even better, but sadly impossible, match for Trump: the short-lived but sensation-making “Morton Downey Jr. Show,” which ran for a couple years in the late nineteen-eighties, and where Trump could have traded insults with the vituperative host, mocked his fellow-guests, and basked in the madhouse frenzy stirred up by the braying audience.) Remarkably, the most viral late-night moment for any politician during this cycle was a long, wide-ranging conversation about authenticity and grief.

When Vice-President Joe Biden went on Colbert last week, they talked about how religious faith has shaped the way that they both have faced personal tragedy, and the discussion was raw and unsettling and poignant. Colbert, visibly moved, more or less demanded that Biden run for President—if he does, these several minutes on television will be cited, rightly or wrongly, as a turning point. During an interview segment with actress Dakota Johnson, there to plug the movie Black Mass, Fallon got distracted—indeed, visibly annoyed—by loud music thumping through the walls of Studio 6-B. Watching Clinton on Fallon, Wednesday night, I was reminded of just how many times Clinton has, while running for office, strained to come across as an ordinary person.

She was always funny on Letterman, but during an appearance in 2003 she was more than that, talking about how she felt in the days after her husband admitted to having an affair with Monica Lewinsky.

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