Trump in Doonesbury 30 years ago? What was he doing at the time that you decided to take him on?
In the fall of 1987 Trump took out some full-page newspaper ads touting his foreign policy views. Apparently the whole world was laughing at us even back then, especially Japan. The ads were widely seen as a trial balloon, and people started speculating that he would run for president. The New York comedy community erupted. We knew from years of enduring his big honking hubris and idiocy that there was no one on the planet less suited to be president. To ignore his presumption would have been comedy malpractice.
The jacket of your new book “#SAD! Doonesbury in the Time of Trump,” includes an excerpt from “Trump: Surviving at the Top” that mentions you by name, and indicates that he’s not fan of yours. What are the differences between the way you handle criticism, and the way Trump handles criticism?
The main difference is that I don’t particularly mind it. It’s an occupational hazard. Also, I poke con artists and hypocrites for a living, so if one of them says “ouch,” it means I’ve done my job.
What’s the deal with the Roland B. Hedley Jr. character in the new book? He even has a real-life Twitter account.
Roland was an early adopter. The idea of a personal broadcasting system was catnip to him, so he jumped on Twitter in 2009. For me, writing in 128-word snippets was an interesting challenge, a kind of comedy haiku. It was also a major time-suck, so after a year, I suspended his account and published all his tweets in a book called “My Shorts are Bunching. Thoughts?” Following the 2016 election, I reactivated him, mostly because I was no longer doing the daily strip and wanted a way to react to the Trump presidency in real time. As “Trump Tweets Bureau Chief” for Fox News, Roland’s required to defend the indefensible, so for me as the writer, every day is Opposite Day.
How long ago did you anticipate Trump’s running for president, and why?
I never really predicted it, I just satirized his every head fake. Most people have forgotten that he actually ran in 2000 as a Reform Party candidate. His campaign only lasted a couple months, but I was all over it.
What was your personal reaction to the 2016 election?
Horror, but not despair. I have a lot of confidence in the robustness of our institutions.
On the banner on his Facebook page, comedian Lewis Black is standing in front of a “Fake Newsstand” and holding a newspaper with a headline that reads: “President makes comedians obsolete.” Agree or disagree with that?
Totally disagree. It may be a tragedy for the country, but this is a golden age for comedy and satire. Look at the large, appreciative audiences all the late night shows are attracting. I seriously doubt even Black actually thinks comedians are obsolete. I see the headline as just a joke about Trump’s clownishness.
How is “the Time of Trump” going to end?
In ignominy. It’s just a question of when. He’ll never shake all the investigations. Once out of office, he’ll spend the rest of his life in legal jeopardy, if not prison. History will be even less kind.
What is the status of “Alpha House” (The satirical Amazon streaming series, created by Trudeau, starred John What: “Doonesbury” creator Garry Trudeau. When: 8 p.m. Nov. 13. Where: Keswick Theatre, 291 N. Keswick Ave., Glenside. Tickets: $35-$65. Info.: (215) 572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com. Goodman, Clark Johnson, Matt Malloy and Mark Consuelos as four Republican U.S. senators sharing a house in Washington D.C.)?
The show is over, although we’re not sure why. Amazon ordered fresh episodes, but then changed their minds. The studio’s a bit of a black box.