Airing a fake interview with Donald Trump on the same day a real interview ended with Trump throwing a reporter out of the Oval Office seems like a comedy suicide mission: things are so far beyond parody, why bother? But Stephen Colbert gave it a go on Monday, when The Late Show with Stephen Colbert ran a “one-on-one interview” between himself and the president. It’s not as funny as watching Trump end a real-life interview the second he gets a line of questioning he doesn’t like, but it’s also not as existentially terrifying. In fact, it’s Trump’s friendliest press appearance since going on Fallon.
The technique of cutting a fake interviewer into genuine sound or video clips is one of the few comedy techniques to make the jump from wacky morning DJ shows to late night, and it’s having a bit of a revival right now: Seth Meyers has been doing this recently with Sean Spicer’s press conference to great effect, and it’s not Colbert’s first outing either. Meyers’ version is more elaborate (extras!) and more vulgar—he always ends the bit by asking, “How’s the President’s penis?” (Spicer: “Historically faulty.”) Still, whoever edited Colbert’s version absolutely aced it—the timing on Trump’s answers to Colbert’s questions about nuclear war is exquisite. On the other hand, if you want to transport viewers to a world where Donald Trump gives nonsensical, uninformed answers to basic questions, do you really need a special effects budget?
As a depressing bonus, and further motivation for Slate readers to invent a time machine and save us all (one of you is working on this, right?) here’s Colbert really interviewing Trump, back when his presidency seemed impossible.