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Hillary Clinton on 'Broad City': Why politicians do comedy

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Carolyn Kaster/AP

(Read caption) Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the Ohio Democratic Party Legacy Dinner at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio.

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TV viewers are no doubt used to seeing presidential candidate Hillary Clinton following various debates, but soon, she’ll be appearing on a fictional TV comedy.

Clinton will star on the Comedy Central program “Broad City,” with the episode featuring the politician set to air on March 16. Series co-creators Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer say that Clinton will appear as part of a storyline in which Glazer’s character Ilana goes to work for Clinton’s campaign. 

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Those behind the Twitter account for “Broad” had previously tweeted about Clinton’s appearance. 

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Other politicians who have appeared recently on fictional comedies include Vice President Joe Biden, who was part of the NBC sitcom “Parks and Recreation.” He did so for the first time in November 2012 after the presidential election and appeared again in 2015. 

Candidates appearing on late-night talk shows and on “SNL” is much more common. Appearing on “SNL” in particular has become almost an expected step for politicians, though this election season has been slightly different from past ones at “SNL,” with Donald Trump serving as host this past November. Politicians often appear on the show but rarely take on the job of host and “SNL” met with some criticism for having Trump do so.

Both Clinton and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders have appeared on this season of “SNL,” with Clinton portraying a bartender who chatted with candidate Clinton as played by Kate McKinnon.

Sanders appeared alongside Larry David, who has portrayed Sanders on “SNL,” earlier this year. David and Sanders portrayed people on a cruise ship who begin debating who should be rescued first after the craft begins sinking.

And of course appearing on a weeknight late-night comedy show has become the norm as well. Trump recently appeared on “The Tonight Show” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” while presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Sanders have appeared on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and Clinton has appeared on “The Tonight Show” and “Kimmel,” among others, in addition to “Late Night with Seth Meyers.”

This is a different strategy than that of candidates of decades past. Los Angeles Times writer Meredith Blake noted of politicians appearing on late-night comedy programs, “In stark contrast to the Johnny Carson era, it is now routine for D.C. players to appear in the guest chair.” 

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Why would politicians appear on these programs? Jack Martinez of Newsweek writes that “today’s candidates choose the late-night comedy circuit because they know they have to appear comfortable and relatable, especially to young voters.” 

Young voters are almost certainly whom Clinton is aiming for with the appearance on “Broad” – Lacey Rose of the Hollywood Reporter noted of the program, “Though ‘Broad City’ is hardly a massive ratings driver, the series has delivered raves … and brought a sense of ‘hip’ to Comedy Central.”


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