Guide to the best political comedy of 2016

The 2016 presidential campaign trail has yielded many historic firsts. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is first female presidential candidate nominated by a major party. On the Republican side, Donald Trump is the first major-party nominee since Dwight D. Eisenhower to never have held elective office. Perhaps more notably, this election has been marked by its viciousness. President Obama has derided this election as “corrosive” and “vulgar.” You would think the candidates would leave sinking to the lowest of lows to our comedians, right? Well in the upside-down world of Election 2016, we see comics taking the moral high ground, holding candidates and the media responsible for their actions. Political comedy in 2016 has never been more vital. Here’s some of the best:

1) Samantha Bee: Samantha Bee is the most important comedic voice of 2016. Her character fits in perfectly with this election cycle. Her show is the clear heir to Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show,” a show whose absence has been deeply felt this year. Bee’s strength comes from the fact that she refuses to hide her frustration. She’s not afraid to be filled with righteous anger, which is what separates her from the rest of the pack. Where other shows like “The Tonight Show” might try to dance around the issues facing today, Bee doubles down. She gives her opinion and also finds what’s funny about tough topics. The show acts as catharsis for a segment of the population that’s simply fed up. Bee uses her anger to deliver trenchant insights and vicious jabs at anyone in her path. The show’s voice is unlike anything on television.

2) Vic Berger: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania native Vic Berger has been thrust into the limelight through a series of Vines this year. His work takes footage of politicians and celebrities and repurposes them in insanely funny ways. In particular, Berger’s editing style highlights the existential ugliness of some of the statements made this election cycle. His style is at times disorienting; he packs a lot into six seconds. Berger has mastered the “comedy headache” style of Adult Swim. He takes aim at anyone who craves attention, but most notably Donald Trump. Berger’s edits put a spotlight on the bullying nature of Trump’s rallies and takes Trump’s rhetoric and turns it on its head.

3) Eric Andre: “The Eric Andre Show” has been quietly churning out brilliant, anarchic comedy since its premiere in 2012. Andre’s low budget, public access parody show on Adult Swim has carved out a reputation for airing fearless man-on-the-street pieces. In these pieces, Andre induces random acts of violence and absurdity onto the streets of NYC. In its fourth season however, Andre has swung himself into the political realm. In his political pieces, he’s tangled himself up with talk show host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, as well as protestors at the DNC.

4) “Triumph the Insult Comic Dog”: For years, comedian and writer Robert Smigel has been skewering pop culture icons with his puppet dog character, Triumph. Now, his latest Hulu special has landed him a nomination at this year’s Emmys. The specials take aim at Bernie Sanders die-hards and Trump supporters, making both look equally delusional.

5) Owen Ellickson: Owen Ellickson works mainly as a writer and producer in Hollywood, writing for “The Office” and “Superstore”. During this election cycle, however, Ellickson has taken up a new moniker on Twitter: an alternate reality version of Donald Trump. One may ask, “Isn’t one Trump enough?” Well in Ellickson’s Twitter feed, we see an important heightening of Trump’s rhetoric. The feed gives us a reality check on how close Ellickson’s character is to Trump’s actual persona. Ellickson’s Twitter feed chronicles Trump’s adventures and interactions with campaign staff Paul Ryan and Chris Christie. The character is absolutely unhinged and impulsive. It’s the funniest Twitter feed of the year.

6) James Adomian and Anthony Atamanuik: Pitch-perfect impressions are hard to come by. The team of Adomian and Atamanuik mix perfect impressions with great writing, and the results are astounding. Both performers have been stalwarts of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and have been doing great character work for years. Now, with the album “Trump Vs. Bernie: Live in Brooklyn,” they’ve fully hit their stride.  Adomian, donning a grey sideways wig, plays a perfect Bernie Sanders.  Atamanuik plays an even more orange version of Trump, who spends a lot of time insulting the Republican establishment. Their live album shows these two sparring in rare form, in front of a packed crowd no less. It’s easily the best two-person comedy album in years. Their stage show received rave reviews and through their YouTube clips and @Midnight appearances, they’ve both made names for themselves this election cycle.                     

7) Connor O’Malley: “Late Night with Seth Meyers” writer Connor O’Malley is doing something incredible with his Internet character Mark Seevers. O’Malley plays Seevers as a Alex Jones’ rip off blogger of the fictional “” website. Seevers interviews people at Trump rallies in excellently produced YouTube videos shot on location. Seevers’ only wish is for Donald Trump to take him in as his father. O’Malley’s brilliance comes in the mix between the broad nature of the character and the specificity only O’Malley could bring. After watching just a few YouTube clips, viewers feel like they know the character well, getting an insight on what makes Mark Seevers tick.