Stephen Colbert believes that Donald Trump is a cartoon, and he’s making one to prove it.
Our Cartoon President, the 10-episode animated series which will debut on Showtime on Feb. 11, proved to be the best way to accurately capture what’s going on in the White House, according to the Late Show host, who is executive producing the series. With Michael Wolff’s revealing book about the Trump White House, Fire and Fury, grabbing all the headlines right now — and earning the ire of POTUS — Colbert joked to reporters at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour in Pasadena on Saturday that Fire and Fury is basically covering the same material that’s in the new show. “There’s nothing in that book that’s not in our show, and we just guessed,” Colbert said. “The great thing about the Trump Administration is whatever you imagine, you’re right. ”
The opening scene to each episode will be the last element animated, allowing the show to be more topical. “In a pinch, tomorrow’s show could have a cold open all about how he’s a very stable genius,” said Colbert, “which is what we’re trying to capture with this show — just how genius he is.”
Colbert believes that he is neither complimenting nor normalizing the controversy-courting commander-in-chief by turning him into a cartoon. In fact, the show — which will occasionally use dialogue from actual interviews featuring Trump and his team — aims to remind people that this is not something they should want in the White House. “I don’t think there’s anything normal about his behavior as a cartoon,” said Colbert. “The subjects we’re picking are dark enough that reflect the stakes of truly cartoonish behavior in the actual 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.”
Is Colbert worried that the country is suffering from Trump fatigue? (Not to mention, he is lampooned elsewhere on TV, such as on Comedy Central’s The President Show.) “He’s the President of the United States — there’s no escaping him,” responded Colbert. “It’s like having oxygen fatigue. That’s why I like doing the comedy: it keeps me from being fatigued.”
“I love my country more than I love a good joke,” added Colbert, noting that Trump’s behavior offers plenty of fodder. “But I don’t want to describe that as a good thing. I would happily do with less.”
As for the family and staff surrounding Trump, everyone is fair game — except Trump’s youngest son, Barron. (Donald Jr. and Eric, as you can see here in the first trailer, are not spared. Showrunner Chris Licht likens them to Beavis and Butt-head.) Certain characters had to be scrapped as they were jettisoned from the White House, such as OmarosaManigault-Newman. “We had a great [Steve] Bannon, and then he got fired!” lamented Colbert, who noted that the former White House strategist and Breitbart overlord could return if he becomes a “viable” player in the Trumpscape again.
Asked how the show might make fun of Vice President Mike Pence, Colbert quipped, “How does one mock a manilla envelope?”