To Make the Prez Debate Watchable It Should Be a Roast

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Reuters
Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Reuters

The first presidential debate of the 2024 general election is on Thursday. It starts at 9 p.m. E.T. which, fun fact, is only 2 p.m. in the fiery pits of hell!

It will run for 90 minutes but will feel like six hours and be moderated by CNN’s Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, but that is only because Satan himself had another engagement (he’s busy giving unasked-for parenting advice on Twitter: “I would never let MY CHILD watch BLUEY because SCREEN TIME will exacerbate his ALLERGY TO SYNTHETIC FIBERS.”)

The debate will air on CNN, the streaming platform MAX, and also probably on-loop in various interrogation rooms across the country as torture. I had thought we outlawed presidential debate rematches in the Geneva Convention, but apparently I did not read the fine print.

A few other things you should know before you watch the debate:

  • The candidates have agreed to have no live audience. This makes sense because anyone who would want to watch this debate died several years ago.

  • Microphones will be muted unless it is the candidate’s turn to speak. So best-case scenario, it’s never anyone’s turn to speak and we just watch their mouths move and pretend it’s a lip-synching video that will eventually be set to a Chappell Roan song.

  • Independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. did not qualify for this debate as he failed to meet the 15 percent polling threshold. Weirdly enough, his brain worm did qualify, but turned down the invitation as he has “a thing” tomorrow that’s “all the way in Brooklyn” and “really needs to rest up.” Fair.

OK. Whew. Let’s take a breath. If you are an especially astute reader, you might have gleaned from the previous paragraphs that I’m not super excited to watch this debate.

Here’s the honest truth: I will watch the debate because it’s my job to watch these things. But I know who I’m voting for. Most people do! We have been hearing from and about these two men for, and I’m just spitballin’ here, 19 million years. The extinct brachiosaurus knows who he is voting for. (Nikki Haley, as a write-in!) More importantly, the kind of people who watch debates are not the kind of people who are undecided in a presidential election like this.

If we actually want to get undecided voters to pay attention, we don’t need a debate. We need something they might actually tune in for. We need a roast.

After all, if the candidates are gonna throw around insults about felonies and age (these things will be treated as equivalent because they are both words!), we might as well make it fun. So here’s a bit of how I’d like the debate on Thursday to go.

JAKE TAPPER: Live from Atlanta, this is the CNN Presidential Debate. For our viewers in the United States and around the world, I’m Jake Tapper. Now let’s welcome the candidates. First, current President Joseph Robinette Biden.

JOE BIDEN: Hi Jake. Thanks for having me. Can I start by saying my opponent is what would happen if a diseased scrotum could be concussed!

JAKE TAPPER: Thank you, Mr. President. Former President Donald Trump, would you like to respond?

DONALD TRUMP: Joe Biden is so old he was elected to the Senate by the woolly mammoth. He coined the term “running for office”, because the wheel wasn’t invented yet!

JOE BIDEN: Donald, you were just found guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records—must be confusing for you to be caught cheating on something that’s not your wife!

JAKE TAPPER: Now, on the issue of immigration...

JOE BIDEN: You know who’s the biggest proponent of tightening immigration laws? Donny’s wife! Melania wants immigration laws so tight they extend back 28 years ago when she came to this country and met her husband.

JAKE TAPPER: Israel has been a hot topic in the news...

DONALD TRUMP: Oh yeah Joe? Well, let’s take a look at your poll numbers. Think of them like penises—at your age, they’re almost impossible to get up, and when you finally do, everyone involved is more relieved than they are excited.

JAKE TAPPER: Inflation is...

DONALD TRUMP: Oh, I’ll talk inflation, Jakey. Prices are so high, I now have to pay almost $200,000 to keep a porn star quiet.

JAKE TAPPER: That’s not an argument for your side, sir.

JOE BIDEN: Inflation is so high, even the star of Home Alone 2 needs a second job as the president.

JAKE TAPPER: That… doesn’t really help you either, Mr. President.

DONALD TRUMP: Joe Biden is so bad at sex, he’s disappointed more women than the repeal of Roe v. Wade.

JOE BIDEN: Inflation has increased everything except the size of my opponent’s hands!

DONALD TRUMP: Well, well, well, Joey, all this inflation sure didn’t help the size of your...

(Jake Tapper puts rocks into his pockets and slowly walks into the sea.)

Listen. I’m going to watch the debate tomorrow. I kind of have to. But I can’t pretend it’s going to change my mind. In fact, I cannot wait till it is over and I can cleanse myself with a good old episode of Bluey.

Jill Twiss has won multiple Emmys and Peabody Awards as a senior writer on HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. While on the show, she authored A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, a New York Times #1 bestseller.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.