Actor and author, Alec Baldwin and satirical writer and radio host of Studio 360, Kurt Anderson discussed their most recent collaboration, You Can’t Spell America Without Me– a parody novel on Donald Trump’s life and current presidential administration at the Lisner Auditorium Tuesday night. The event was co-organized by the university and Politics & Prose Bookstore, and was moderated by writer and store co-owner Lissa Muscatine.
Among Baldwin’s list of roles, such as his character Jack Donaghy on the NBC television series 30 Rock, his impersonation of President Trump on Saturday Night Live is certainly one of his most talked about performances. From his protruding lips to his exaggerated hand gestures, Baldwin’s impersonation of Trump is spot-on and, with an Emmy award win to go along with it, his performance is certainly of the highest comedic caliber.
Alec Baldwin transfers Trump’s distinctive voice and rhetoric to the page in the fictional memoir. During the interview, the two talked about their inspiration to write the book and the turbulent political climate under the Trump administration.
Baldwin decided to write the Trump memoir just after completing his second autobiography. At first, Baldwin jokingly pitched the idea of a Trump satire when brainstorming new book ideas with his publisher. Not to much surprise, excitement over the idea allowed the book to move forward and began with signing Kurt Anderson as his co-author.
“I knew I didn’t have the time to write a book like this…I could only think of one person that was smart enough and talented enough as a writer. I knew he was the only person that could do this,” Baldwin said.
Anderson equally gives much credit to Baldwin and explains that watching his excellent impersonation of Trump greatly inspired his writing. While meant as a humorous and satirical take on the current presidency, the so-called parody echoes Trump’s actual voice and sometimes blurs the line between what’s real and what’s fiction. Anderson claimed that “Trump talk” has become a language all in its own and, after studying his speech in depth, both have become fluent in speaking “Trump-ese.” Muscatine commented that “even as outlandish some of the things are, and there are many things that are outlandish, they are all believable. That’s what’s crazy.” As Anderson noted, Trump seems like a fictional character at times. Thus, the goal was to make the memoir seem as realistic as possible for the reader while still incorporating some fictional, but highly plausible, storylines.
In addition, Baldwin gave his thoughts on Trump’s actual administration. Admittedly, Baldwin believed Trump’s behavior would change once he entered office. He thought he would “come to his senses” and realize what an incredible opportunity it is. However, after failing to do so, Baldwin stated that now “we can’t be mean enough to this guy.” Baldwin and Anderson noted that the fictional memoir of Trump’s first year in the oval office is meant to supply a much-needed comedic relief for Americans during this turbulent and controversial presidential administration.