Once again, the Trump administration spent the weekend doing a sort of Gish Gallop of absurdity and incompetence, making so much ridiculous news that Monday’s late-night shows had no chance of covering all of it. But this weekend Trump also made a fatal error: The news was funny enough that Seth Meyers was able to get laughs just by laundry-listing it. You don’t need a take or an angle on an administration where aides announce their strategy going forward is “Keep him away from Twitter, dear God, keep him away from Twitter,” because come on, that’s hilarious. Similarly, Jared Kushner’s voice is funny in its own right, the comedy routine Chris Wallace and Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow did on Sunday couldn’t have been more perfectly crafted if they’d given it to Abbott and Costello, and that’s before even getting to Trump’s bizarre Panama Canal boast. All Meyers really had to do Monday night is roll the tape.
But perhaps because Trump’s antics need so little comedic embellishment, Meyers goes to stranger and more interesting places than usual. Instead of using the “dear God, keep him away from Twitter” quote to make the millionth joke about Trump’s childish behavior, Meyers goes after his aides’ language, saying they sound “like frontier farmers praying for rain,” before imitating one, beseeching heaven, “Oh, please, Dear God, we need this barley somethin’ awful!” And the joke in Meyers’ line, “He’s got layers and layers of lawyers—and you need layers of lawyers when you’re a liar,” is entirely about the sound of the words, a much more difficult thing to pull off than just pointing out we’re headed off a cliff. The Trump administration’s inadvertent attempts at comedy turned out to be surprisingly funny this weekend, and seem to have inspired Meyers and his staff to go to great lengths to outdo them. If we’re lucky, this comedy arms race between Trump and Late Night With Seth Meyers will continue to escalate, keeping us entertained until the nuclear arms race kills us all.