When politics imitates parody: The flattering notion of Trump vs. Bernie, but for real in California

Last night, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump (you voted for him) visited Jimmy Kimmel Live, where Kimmel presented a debate challenge from Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders.

Trump said yes, but only if Sanders pays up, for charity. “If he paid a nice sum toward a charity, I would love to do that.” Trump told Kimmel he’d also agree if a TV network put up the charitable contribution to host.

That was also Trump’s reasoning years ago to agree to a Comedy Central Roast of him, by the way.

Sanders immediately took Trump’s yes as a firm green-light go, posting on Twitter: “Game on. I look forward to debating Donald Trump in California before the June 7 primary.”

It’s unprecedented for the major party candidates to have a presidential debate before either of them have actually received their party’s nomination. Sanders, in fact, extended the challenge because his Democratic rival for their nomination, Hillary Clinton, had just backed out of a proposed California pre-primary debate.

It’s not unprecedented for “Trump vs. Bernie”, though.

Comedians Anthony Atamanuik and James Adomian have held Trump vs Bernie mock debates in their purest form of parody, both in a live national theater tour, and multiple times on TV, including a full-hour of Comedy Central’s @midnight and two specials on Fusion. They’ve added new live touring dates through at least the end of July (when both conventions take place).

I spoke with Atamanuik and Admonian after one of their debates, which you can listen to on Episode #64 of my podcast, Last Things First.

And here is their first Fusion “Trump Vs. Bernie” special from April, moderated by Paul F. Tompkins, Brianna Baker, and Rhea Butcher.

“That’s we’ve been saying Bern!” Admonian Tweeted as his reaction to the overnight breaking news.

Atamanuik for his part Tweeted overnight: “Guys, you do this, we better be there. You’re taking our idea.”

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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