Luckily there’s humor.
One of my coping mechanisms this election has been to add cute animals to my Twitter feed. I now follow one, two, three, four, five, six, seven dogs, three different cats, one baby animal account, two goats (I don’t discriminate) and an avocado. (Ok, yes, I know.)
My favorite indulgence though, has been watching a healthy supply of late-night TV clips. It’s kept me from descending into the dark parts of my psyche.
Thank you so much cute animals. And thank you comedians. And thank you for being here Quartz readers. Here’s a little gift: Some of the humor that helped me get through 2016. It comes via an assist from social analytics platform CrowdTangle, who pulled data on the most popular late-night clips to date, as measured by total likes, shares and comments on Facebook.
At the end of January president Obama gave his last state of the union address. Then in February … Don’t remember February? Let me take you there.
Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina had just dropped out of the race. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has just been found dead and we were sharing this clip. (It was the 7th most popular.)
It’s says more about a generation’s relationship to a TV show than the race, but ok.
Right after this, at the end of the month Jeb Bush threw in the towel. Coincidence? We’ll never know. 🤓
None of us thought Donald Trump was a serious threat at this point. Here, in the 2nd most popular clip, John Oliver is gobsmacked that he is actually covering Trump as a candidate.
Roll on, into March, Super Tuesday. Both Clinton and Trump win seven states, Sanders wins four including his home state. Candidate Ben Carson takes a powder. Saturday Night Live makes this commercial, which I won’t spoil. 6th most popular.
May got weird. Bernie Sanders met with the Pope, but not for long enough to savor a decent cappuccino. Both former Bush presidents said they would abstain from endorsing Trump. Then the NRA did.
Trump and Clinton reached the number of delegates to become their parties’ candidates, Clinton making history by being the first woman. Obama threw his weight behind her and in June he slow-jammed his legacy with Jimmy Fallon in the 3rd most popular clip.
Here’s where we start to go off the rails. June and July were awful.
The devastating hate-crime at the Orlando Pulse went down. 49 people were shot and killed and 53 were wounded. The US Senate rejected tougher gun laws, persuading the house Democrats to stage a sit-in to compel gun legislation. Next, BREXIT! A slim majority of the UK tipped a vote to hive-off from it’s European counterpart. Prime Minister David Cameron called it quits. Then horrifying racial violence in the US: Alton Sterling is killed by police. Philando Castille is killed by police. A sniper kills five police officers at a peaceful Black Lives Matter protests.
Ok, here’s a Koala. Sometimes you just need one to keep going. Unfortunately, we’re not done with summer.
Terrorists attack in Nice. Both the RNC and the DNC have conventions. DNC chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz announces she will resign after embarrassing emails are leaked. And Donald Trump mouths off, calling on Russia to hack the elections. This ticks off The Daily Show host, Trevor Noah.
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) July 28, 2016
Do you need another cute animal? You may.
It’s August. Trump criticizes the Muslim family of a slain soldier. Obama says he is “unfit for office.” An Imam and his assistant are murdered in New York City in an apparent hate crime.
Don’t worry, there’s a way to see the absurdity here. In the 8th most popular clip, Jordan Klepper of The Daily Show hits it on the nose by going to a Trump rally and interviewing racist, xenophobic, homophobic and misogynistic Trump followers.
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) August 19, 2016
September is notable because it’s when Clinton stumbles leaving a 9/11 memorials service early due to pneumonia, sparking conspiracy theories about her health. But Jordan Klepper is still on it, talking to Trump supporters to find out exactly what they think is wrong with Hillary. This is the 5th most popular clip.
It’s October. We have the first of the presidential debates. Alec Baldwin debuts his dead-on Trump impression in the 10th most popular clip and we all start using the term ‘cold open.’
Then the Trump tapes happen, something we’ll never be able to un-see even though it was something we mostly heard. We really needed some levity. The number one most popular clip, courtesy of Fallon Tonight, surfaces with a cameo from Madea.
Of course, Trevor Noah weighs in, absolutely fed-up with the conflation of sex talk and sexual assault talk. If you never saw this, it’s worth a watch. It’s also the 4th most popular.
“If you conduct locker room talk everywhere, it’s not the locker room. It’s you, motherfucker!” https://t.co/qFPahGYIId
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) October 11, 2016
Which brings us to our latest political crisis, FBI’s director James Comey’s letter to Congress refusing to let the Clinton emails die. And here we are, an entire nation on edge, waiting for an election to end.
So here’s your November bonus (eleventh most popular), featuring Louis C.K. on Conan O’Brien. It’s been a rough road and I’m not beyond LOLcats to get through it.
P.S. The humor here is decidedly partisan. The data pulled to find it was not.