In light of the very real presidential campaign he’s mounted, the jokes about Donald Trump’s White House aspirations at his Comedy Central roast in 2011 feel like missed opportunities. Sure, Snoop Dogg made an incisive remark about how a Trump presidency would just be another instance of him displacing a black family, and Seth MacFarlane called him the “second worst thing to happen to New York.” But if anyone in attendance had known that his orange hue was not the result of their burns, and that his ego would live to bloviate another day, maybe they would have taken things a bit more seriously.
Of course, we can’t blame Comedy Central for the current pickle we’re in—that dubious honor goes to the people in this country who think someone who lacks business acumen and basic empathy is a prime candidate for president. Even with the aid of writers, the comedians and performers must have found it difficult to home in on just one objectionable aspect. The multiple marriages were fair play, as was his unnatural attraction to his daughter Ivanka. A few potshots were taken at Trump’s failed business ventures, which were only possible thanks to his inherited wealth. However, most of the roast centered on his looks and character, which weren’t a bad place to start, but his skin hadn’t yet worn so thin that he took major offense. (This proves that spray tan must be corrosive, because current-day Trump wages Twitter war against everyone.)
If you also thought Trump got off easy, then you were probably making premature ejaculation jokes in your head as you watched the roast. You also might have wondered why a prospective presidential candidate’s actual net worth—which came into play in just about every season of The Apprentice—wasn’t a hotter topic of discussion, especially considering its accumulation is precisely what he’s presented as his qualifications for the highest office in the land. And the answer’s simple—the subject was off limits for the roast.
According to Aaron Lee, a writer and Comedy Central Roast stalwart, Trump declared that his purported wealth could not be mocked during the proceedings. The flaxen-haired buffoon could tolerate cracks about his hair, his meat, and his weight, but naturally, money was the only thing that was sacred. Vulture reports that fellow roaster Anthony Jeselnik made a similar claim in 2013, telling Joan Rivers in an interview that Trump forbade the production from implying that he doesn’t have as much money as he’s suggested. Hindsight’s 20/20 and all that, but we can’t help but wondering if discussing whether the emperor was naked because he couldn’t afford new clothes might have nipped this whole thing in the bud.