There’s a type of late-night TV segment that used to be rare but has become so common as to be almost unremarkable since Trump became president: The host directly addresses the camera and talks sincerely about the fact that Donald Trump is wildly unqualified—morally, intellectually, emotionally, and physically—to be president. After Charlottesville, everyone on TV, from Jimmy Fallon’s uncharacteristically straight-faced statement about the evil of white supremacy to Seth Meyers’ rundown of all the little white supremacist actions Trump took that helped make Charlottesville possible. But no one has mastered the form quite like former President of Mexico Vicente Fox, who has been releasing brutal and hilarious video messages for Trump via Superdeluxe since May. Fox’s reinvention as a political comedian began in January, when he tweeted that he “was not paying for that fucken wall”:
TRUMP, when will you understand that I am not paying for that fucken wall. Be clear with US tax payers. They will pay for it.— Vicente Fox Quesada (@VicenteFoxQue) January 6, 2017
It wasn’t a joke, of course, but in the ensuing uproar, it can’t have been lost on Fox that there was an enormous audience for people using whatever power they have to tell Donald Trump to fuck off. A few months later, he released his first Superdeluxe video message. It’s not entirely fair to compare the former president of Mexico to the late-night hosts whose toys he’s playing with: For starters, Fox has only made four videos, while Colbert and company have to churn these out five times a week. But even with such a small sample size, it’s clear that the ex-president, writer Guy Endore-Kaiser, and director Moisés Aisemberg have used the familiar form of late-night political comedy to deliver a comedic voice that would be unique among late-night hosts, never mind former presidents of Mexico. Here’s Fox’s debut:
This is, on its face, the same earnest condemnation of Trump’s vanity we’ve seen a million times by now—the first joke doesn’t happen until more than a minute in—but the lengthy, sincere introduction makes it all the funnier when Fox pulls out a piece of chocolate cake and says, “I brought something that will make it easier for the bees in your brain to focus.” And Fox brings his own comedic voice to the table in this passage:
Your whole image is as a winner, but if you keep robbing the poor to give to the rich, your tenants will take your name off your buildings, your children will take your name off your grandchildren, and you will go down as the single biggest loser your proud country has ever produced. This is a dark thought, ain’t it?
There’s nothing new about calling Trump a loser, but Fox is uniquely qualified to deliver that joke, which plays on a sort of All the Pretty Horses vision of Mexican culture—family legacies, proud countries, and the like—before deflating his own grandiosity with a perfectly deployed ain’t it. And even in his first attempt at this sort of piece, Fox spoke more bluntly than most: Try to imagine the aftermath if the late-night host of your choice explicitly said presidents should judge their success by how much rich people hate them:
If at the end of the four years, you walk into Mar-a-Lago and the entire place erupts into boos, there is a chance you have been a good president, maybe even a great one. But if you walk in, and the millionaires and the billionaires greet you with cheers, then you have failed your country, your name is mud, and history will grind you beneath her heel.
That’s already more moral clarity than we can usually manage on national television, at least when it comes to money. But the premise of the first segment was that Trump could change or improve, and by his second outing, Fox, Endore-Kaiser, and Aisemberg had given up on that idea even as a joke. Instead, they gave the insults top billing:
Fox doing a thumbs-up with a horrible-looking taco bowl before urging Trump to “just eat a fuckin’ taco” would be expert-level trolling if not for the fact that the original taco bowl tweet was itself a troll designed to provoke exactly this sort of reaction. But the section where Fox displays a secret, dark-web schematic for a device to defeat Trump’s wall (it’s called a ladder) is aces, and in the “earnest” category, Fox’s rundown of the other things we could do with the money Trump wants to spend on a wall is excellent. Fox even ventures into magical realism at the end, urging Trump to build “a bridge across the oceans of time” to tell his younger self “that just because his father doesn’t love him, that doesn’t mean he cannot love the world.” The key point in that fantasia, of course, is that Donald Trump is no longer fixable—not just as a president but as a human being—without the invention of time travel. By Fox’s third segment, he was just hoping we’d make it through the Trump years alive:
This time, Fox pushes hardest at the edge of late-night TV’s Overton window with a straightforward critique of America’s habit of sending poor people to die for rich people:
The first question to ask yourself before you start a war: Would you fight in it? Not now, obviously—you’d be useless unless we get attacked by golf balls—but back when you dodged the Vietnam draft, when bone spurs prevented you from serving your country but not serving on the tennis court. If a war you want to start today isn’t so fuckin’ righteous that a young Donald Trump would have willingly served in it, then don’t send other young people to die in it, OK?
We spend a lot of time valorizing America’s military—and a reasonable amount of time criticizing draft dodgers—but we don’t talk as much about the fact that, all things considered, the troops would also prefer not to die. And when was the last time Jimmy Fallon used the phrase “war orgasm?” This go-round also sees Fox begin to attempt John Oliver–style stunts, although sending Trump a box of toy soldiers and a copy of Call of Duty isn’t as ambitious as, say, crashing the Federal Communications Commission’s website. Then, last week, Fox went the full John Oliver, with this amazing announcement that he is running for president of the United States:
There are so many Oliver trademarks here that they’re hard to count: animals as props, a fake commercial, a big musical number—when Nazis come up, Fox even does the part where Oliver gets so exasperated with the idiocy he’s describing that he starts yelling. (Announcing a faux political campaign is more of a Colbert bit than an Oliver one, but they both love stunts.) And yes, you can buy the hats, and they’re cheaper than Oliver’s tactical assault wipes. But this isn’t a John Oliver joke:
Donald, you have the worst team since the team that was beaten by Air Bud, a basketball-playing golden retriever who has no hands—which are so, so necessary for the sport of basketball.
Oliver would punch hard on no hands and might launch from there into an exasperated list of other reasons a golden retriever would be bad at basketball. Colbert and Samantha Bee both do a lot of the faux-sincerity Fox employs in his so, so necessary elaboration, but their delivery is a little more winky compared to Fox’s killer deadpan here. Some of Fox’s bits are funny solely because of his position as former president of Mexico—“Donald, you suck so much at this job” is a laugh line because of who’s saying it—but the Air Bud joke works because of Fox’s timing and delivery, not his résumé. In other words, it’s a Vicente Fox joke. It’s a good thing U.S. late-night hosts aren’t racist morons, or they might start worrying about losing their jobs to a Mexican immigrant.