Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Seth Meyers talk shop about making politics funny in a Donald Trump world

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Seth Meyers
Screenshot: Late Night With Seth Meyers

Say what you want, but Seth Meyers can pull. On Tuesday’s Late Night, Meyers welcomed a pair of pop culture legends to his couch, and while it’s tempting to highlight Mark Hamill simply for being delightfully and unassumingly Mark Hamill (yes, he still does the best Harrison Ford impression in the world), sometimes a loaded late-night episode means making the tough choices. Not that watching Julia Louis Dreyfus is tough any time, as the Veep star ran down the experience of putting the wickedly funny HBO political satire to bed after seven years. “I think we did it,” said Louis-Dreyfus, of the show’s upcoming series finale, adding that she’s “somewhat grief-stricken” at having recently wrapped on this, her second iconic television comedy series. “It was a total endeavor of passion and love,” Louis-Dreyfus told Meyers.

Which is nice and all, although love isn’t the first concept to come to mind when thinking of Veep, whose scathing satire of American politics is matched in crude, sledgehammer smarts only by its groundbreakingly creative insult game. (Usually, but by no means exclusively, at the expense of Timothy Simons’ Washington bottom-feeder, Jonah Ryan.) And since Meyers and Louis-Dreyfus already have plenty in common (apart from having been on SNL, they’re both proud alums of Northwestern University, and its renowned improv scene), the two commiserated over the daunting task of outdoing current braying jackass reality when it comes to doing political comedy.

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Louis-Dreyfus, while pointedly choosing not to name him, cited Donald Trump’s rise as making her job a whole lot harder, since, as she put it in reference to Veep’s pre-Trump seasons, “what was absurd now feels quaint.” Calling Selina Meyer’s ever-coarsening journey as a power-lusting once and possibly future President, “an interesting thing to navigate” now that the days when one could confidently pronounce that “politicians don’t mock disabled people” are over, Louis-Dreyfus decried how politics has become “more extreme, more out there.” Still, as Veep’s viewers know, the show has managed to keep pace in the cynical, horrible, self-interested, corrupt politician department, even as Louis-Dreyfus told Meyers, “It feels as if [Trump]’s doing a better episode of the show than we are.” Except, as she said, one actually impossible to find funny.

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Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.