Chicago satirist Scott Dikkers talks life under Trump in new book
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Chicago humorist Scott Dikkers asks the American public to brace itself for the “Trumpocalypse” in his latest book, “Trump’s America: The Complete Loser’s Guide,” which forecasts life under President Donald J. Trump.
The founding editor-in-chief of the satirical news site The Onion, Dikkers, 56, created “Trump’s America” with the students in his “Writing with The Onion” master class at Second City. The book is touted as an act of public service “to help people thrive over the next eight years of a Trump presidency, and to avoid having to attend (and pay for) a Trump University Reeducation Camp.”
“I’ve been predicting for a very long time that he is going to win the general election,” Dikkers says of the Republican nominee. “Politics in America is so far behind the entertainment business in terms of its understanding of the audience — I want to say the electorate, but I mean the audience. They understand a little bit but not fully the power of fame.”
Dikkers says name recognition gives candidates a clear advantage in the race, and politicians falsely believe putting someone “young and attractive” in front of the American public can lead to victory.
Trump “has played a much more difficult game in the world of the entertainment business, and he looks at the world of politics and sees that they’re playing at such a remedial level, and he can go in and clean up.”
Describing this year’s other Republican candidates as “amateurs,” Dikkers attributes Trump’s success thus far to a general sense of nationalism and anxiety sweeping the country, as well as the candidate’s zest for winning.
“Winning is a central part of his public persona that he likes to present,” Dikkers says. “He is a vicious competitor.
“That’s just the game he plays. And he’s really good at it.”
“Trump’s America” is rich in Onion-esque satire, with the first chapter outlining how Trump will hang his “real American birth certificate” in the White House foyer — a jab at the candidate’s role in the birther movement that aimed to delegitimize Obama’s presidency.
Dikkers says his favorite section of the book is “Trumptitution,” featuring a copy of the U.S. Constitution with President Trump’s edits scrawled across it — including “so much of this is outdated” and “wordy!”
“In real life, Trump will see an article written about him, and he will tear it out, and he’ll write on it his critique of it — why it is garbage, why the person who wrote it is a lightweight journalist — and he will mail it back to them,” Dikkers says. “They have a lot of these scanned online. So we actually analyzed that handwriting and copied it and created a font so we could write in his handwriting in the book.”
“Trump’s America” is punctuated by made-up tweets (“I will never donate blood because I made it and it’s mine”), “Trump Facts” (“Trump can bench whatever you bench, plus 10 pounds”) and imagined newspaper clippings from the future with headlines such as “Majority of Trump Wikipedia edits traced to Oval Office.”
To produce the book, Dikkers and his students read Trump’s books and studied his management style, his attitude and his obsession with image. The book soon “spiraled way out of control,” Dikkers says, leading him and his team to work 12 hours a day every day to get “Trump’s America” done in under just nine months.
Dikkers has written and collaborated on other satirical books, including “Our Dumb World,” “Destined for Destiny: The Unauthorized Autobiography of George W. Bush” and “You Are Worthless: Depressing Nuggets of Wisdom Sure to Ruin Your Day.”
He interviews fellow comedians and writers on his “The Comedy Insider” podcast and continues to teach classes at Second City on humor writing. He also is writing a sequel to his book “How to Write Funny,” titled “How to Write Funnier,” a serious guide for writers.
Dikkers has begun a Twitter feed to continue poking fun at Trump’s outlandish comments and actions. He also will be a panel member at the sold-out “Campaigns, Conventions, and Comedy” podcast taping hosted by WBEZ-FM’s “Morning Shift” show Monday at Lincoln Hall.
“Trump, given the success he’s displayed, is sadly going to be a huge influence on future campaigns,” Dikkers says. “People now realize, ‘Oh, this is how the game is played. You never apologize. You lie. But you never acknowledge when the lie has been fact-checked. You double down.’ The competition game becomes more important than the policy you’re supporting.”