Nazeem Hussain, Emily Heller and Stephen K Amos answer one pressing topic: how do you induce gags about the US president?

Forget Uber rides, Tinder shenanigans and airline meat; standup comedys topic du jour is Donald Trump. But has the orange ones ascent to the US presidency been a boon for comics, or does he represent a threat too grave to be flippant about? How has the role of comedy shifted in an period in which the old rules of political participation ought to have radically rewritten?

With the Melbourne International Comedy festival taking over the city throughout April, we caught up with some of its performers to mull these issues and asking questions: how are you dealing here Trump?

Emily Heller

Its hard to induce[ Trump] funny because it is a very real terror and its still so new. Im still figuring it out. But I feel like it colourings every joke, whether[ the joke] is explicitly about Trump or not. I dont know if comedy has the ability to change folks thinkers but Im hearing from audiences that they need it, that it stimulates them seem less alone.

I used to think comedy was a medium to address any kind of person but now, sometimes, you get a clearly articulated sense that audience members support Trump and, when I get that appreciation, I dont really am worried about entertaining them any more.

The day after such elections, I was scheduled to perform on a indicate to celebrate Hillary Clintons win. It was an all-female lineup and it terminated up being one of the best indicates Ive ever done. It was full of people who were incredibly confused and disappointed and it terminated up being enormously cathartic. It reminded me how valuable live performance is.

Emily Heller is one of the USs most acclaimed young comics and writers. She has appeared on Conan, Chelsea Lately and Late Night with Seth Meyers

Emily Heller: Sometimes you get a clearly articulated sense that audience members support Trump. Photograph: Mindy Tucker

Damien Power

I tend to avoid the really topical material because I find thats so well covered by people like John Oliver. I guess Im taking broad strokes; a lot of my material stems from the fact that the left/ right paradigm has become very weird and confusing.

I definitely think theres a place for more escapist or surreal comedy. I embrace all of it. Ive never supposed I was changing “the worlds”; my No 1 goal has always been to be funny. Weirdly, these days, with the way mainstream media and social media are with their varied biases, people are often looking to comedians to provide a voice of reason. People want a gasp of fresh air amid all the insanity.

Damien Power is a Barry-nominated comic whose job has depicted comparings with George Carlin. He was also a member of the satirical group True Australian Patriots

Cal Wilson

The stuff that Im doing, its not a political diatribe. I merely sprinkle it through the indicate. I dont have a degree in political science, its fairly simple material. The degree I induce is that I never seemed qualified to talk about politics before but now with Trump I seem overqualified to talk about it. I mean, half an avocado would be overqualified to talk about politics compared to him. He just says whatever he wants. I call it asshole jazz.

When you have a man that says such dreadful things about women and immigrants so openly, I feel like we have to be bolder about being allies. He has given people a licence to bring out their secret racism or their secret sexism. People suppose, Well, if the president is saying it, it is essential OK.

Cal Wilson has been a popular drawcard at the Melbourne International Comedy festival since she won its best newcomer awarding in 2001. Her new show is Things Ive Never Said

Nazeem Hussain

My indicates tend to be political but from a very personal view. I dont merely respond to the news of the working day, it has to resonate with me personally. What is more important and interesting to me is that hes the president because a large segment of specific populations voted for him. Im interested in how those minds gained currency. Trump is a symptom of the modern west; he didnt “re coming” with these minds or convince people to suppose like that, hes nothing new. Its more the underlying feeling around Trump thats interesting.

Over the last six months, Ive seemed the need to be on stage more. For me, its therapeutic. Its like the crazier “the worlds” get, the more we need to be able to laugh at the obvious sillines and to share in that experience.

Not that comedy is a social movement but I suppose every social movement is about joining together with like-minded people. I dont think you go to a rally imagining it will change “the worlds” you go to come together with people who seem the same and to experience it together.

Nazeem Hussain cowrote and starred in Legally Brown. His latest show, Public Frenemy, was written in a 10 -day blitz after his stint on Im A Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here !

Nazeem Hussain: Trump is a symptom of the modern west.

DeAnne Smith

My sense is that people are sick of hearing about Trump but it also seems like, in 2017, its not enough to going to tell some cute gags. Im approaching it through broader gags about misogyny and sexism. I dont invest too much period on Trump specifically but he seems like an abhorrent human being. I actually left America after Bush stole such elections and I supposed things couldnt possibly get any worse. That just seems quaint now.

But I think of it as a fun challenge. This sounds cheesy but I think its become even more important to stay true to yourself as a musician now. I played a indicate the nighttime after such elections and it felt like everyone in the chamber had really “ve been through” something traumatic. Everyone was devastated but it terminated up being one of the best and most cathartic indicates Ive ever done. People really wanted an excuse to come together.

DeAnne Smith is a Canadian-American comedian who was nominated for a Barry award in 2011. Her current show is Post-Joke Era

Stephen K Amos

My main thing is to be very careful about it because I dont want to be doing the same sort of joke fields as my fellow comics. As with Brexit, it has really divided society, so you have to be very sensitive in your approach. Ive been on bills where comics are just writing off all Trump advocates and I dont want to go down that track of merely labelling all persons who voted for Trump or for Brexit as a bigot or a sexist.

Its a very strange period where the most powerful man in the free world is actively involved on social media hes having a pop at Alec Baldwin, having a pop at Meryl Streep. Its like, I wouldnt want to go into Woolworths and appreciate the president milling around there. I would think, Hey, havent you got more pressing things to do?

Stephen K Amos is an English comic and Melbourne International Comedy festival regular. His indicate World Famous focuses on casual racism and the changing notion of free speech

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