With a new year (and a new America) fast approaching, it’s time to look back and appreciate the comedians who did their best to satirically expose the horrors of a Trump presidency back when we still had a chance to fix it. From getting his supporters to admit their shockingly unpleasant views to uncovering unbelievable facts about the man himself, these are the people who were really there to make us laugh in one of the darkest years in recent memory. (Notably not on this list: Jimmy Fallon. You know what you did).
# 10: Saturday Night Live
Comedy institution Saturday Night Live had inarguably the best Donald Trump impression around; Alec Baldwin’s version of the pussy-grabbing billionaire managed to capture both the evil and the stupidity of Trump to the point where Trump couldn’t stay out of a twitter war with them every week. As they did with Sarah Palin, much of their lampoon consisted of basically repeating what the real Donald had said. SNL would be much higher on this list if it weren’t for the fact that they let him host the show in early 2016. That was a disgrace that will forever mar the legacy of the show.
#9 Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart popped up here and there to take on the looming Trumpocalypse this year, which was always hilarious. In the video below, he pops up on Stephen Colbert’s show to to exchange spit takes and Trump barbs. We’re just disappointed that he left The Daily Show when our country needed him the most.
#8: Triumph the Insult Comic Dog
The puppet who has spun off of Conan O’brien’s show into his own Hulu show did some amazing and uncomfortable investigative work into the mindset of Trump voters this year. See, for example, the video below, where Trump supporters advocate for guns in women’s restrooms for protection against the transgenders, or suggest tricking all Mexican citizens into getting a vaccination that would shock them if they tried to cross the border. It’s unsettling and darkly hilarious.
#7: Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert was the comedian who best seemed to understand this election the same way that Trump himself did: as a giant reality show contest. This perspective was best utilized during his coverage of the Republican National Convention, where he donned his Caesar Flickerman costume to compare the whole ordeal to The Hunger Games. He delivers his best zinger as he gets escorted off the stage he hijacked: “I know I’m not supposed to be up here, but let’s be honest: neither is Donald Trump.” If only.
#6: Jordan Klepper
The Daily Show’s Jordan Klepper used his charm and authoritative presence to get real Americans to show what they really thought on his regular segment, “Jordan Klepper Fingers the Pulse.” He would often run logical circles around the subjects of his interviews, putting their ignorance on display while leaving them unaware of what had just happened to them. It could seem cruel, but it also somehow lent an air of pathos to the alt-right. And in the end, Klepper can’t be accused of staying inside the progressive bubble. He was reporting from the trenches of Trump’s America and shining a light on a perspective many overlooked.
#5: Ana Navarro
Ana Navarro is a media pundit, not a comedian, but she still brought us so many laughs this year. The Latina immigrant and Republican from Florida showed up on all of the news shows and time and time again would sit quietly rolling her eyes while Trump acolytes would make their insipid points, and then she would unleash the fury. “You’re talking fifty shades of crazy,” she says in response to Scottie Hughes trying to compare Pussygate to the popularity of erotic fiction in the clip below. Jump to the 2:15 mark if you’d like to skip the Trump rhetoric and hear this fireball go.
#4: Trevor Noah
The Daily Show’s host was still finding his footing this year, but when he was on, he was on. See, for example, his coverage of the leaked “grab them by the pussy” tapes. He attacked the issue from every angle, discussing Billy Bush’s complicity, the sexist rhetoric of the Republican response to it (“The Trump tape shouldn’t offend you on behalf of females. It should offend you as a human being.”) to the idea that consent, rather than vulgarity, is at the center of the issue. We look forward to Noah’s passionate coverage of the next several years.
#3: John Oliver
John Oliver launched the first, biggest, most in-depth comedic hit piece on Donald Trump all the way back in February he dropped the segment that launched a thousand memes. We have Oliver to thank for many of the funniest parts of the election, from putting “I have the best words” into the public eye to the nickname “Drumpf” to the tiny hands to Trump Steaks. Oliver early on set the bar for late-night Trump coverage.
#2: Randy Rainbow
With his unique blend of mock interviews and Broadway spoofs, Randy Rainbow made election season almost bearable. This culminated with his mashup of Mary Poppins and the first debate. My thoughts sometimes turn to hoping Randy Rainbow will stay safe during a Trump presidency after all the awesome things he has said about him. We’re going to need him if we’re going to get through this.
#1: Samantha Bee
Offering a perspective unlike anyone else (read: all of the men) in late night television, Samantha Bee hit Donald Trump every week with her brand of biting, angry, and empathetic humor. She interviewed Russian hackers, talked with female heads of state, and even floated her own conspiracy theories. Such as the idea that maybe Donald Trump doesn’t know how to read. If we had to watch only one comedian’s political coverage, it would be Samantha Bee.