We Asked Comedians What They’d Ask Biden and Trump at Debate


Tonight’s the night. President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will come face to face on CNN Thursday evening for their unusually early first debate ahead of the 2024 election. By this point, moderators Jake Tapper and Dana Bash should be well prepared with a vast array of questions and tactics, no matter how unhinged things get on the debate stage.

But just in case they need some last-minute ideas, The Daily Beast reached out to a bunch of professional comedians to ask what questions they would open the debate with if they were serving as moderator.

Some took the assignment a bit more seriously than others. And some were even tougher on Biden than they were on Trump. But a running theme seemed to be just how unprecedented this big showdown between two men hovering around 80 years old with very different visions for the country they want to lead will no doubt be. Here are some highlights from the responses we received.

Larry Wilmore

The former host of The Nightly Show, current host of the podcast Black on the Air, and the featured comedian at President Barack Obama’s final White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Larry Wilmore zeroed right in on each candidate’s biggest political liability.

“For Trump: As a convicted felon, how will you juggle daily updates from the NSA with check-ins from your probation officer?

“For Biden: Hello? Hello? Still with us?”

Judd Apatow

Director and producer Judd Apatow is responsible for some of the most hilarious movies of the past two decades. But he evidently sees nothing funny about the highly consequential debate.

“What is your plan to save our environment?”

Jena Friedman

Former Daily Show producer and Oscar-nominated screenwriter (for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm) Jena Friedman went straight to the heart of the matter by trying to get the two candidates on the record about one very basic fact.

“Who is the president right now?”

Laurie Kilmartin

And in a case of parallel thinking, former Conan writer and stand-up comedian Laurie Kilmartin, who recently put out a special called Cis Woke Grief Slut, put a finer point on it, framing her question as a cognitive test itself.

“One of those questions you ask to see if people are all there: Who is the president of the United States?”

Gary Gulman

Comedian Gary Gulman, whose most recent special Born on 3rd Base was infused with deeply funny class commentary, had just one question for Trump. But he employed his always impeccable vocabulary to really dig in on a question the former president would never in a million years have enough introspection to answer honestly.

“For Trump: How do you sleep at night? And please don’t give me some schticky answer about expensive bedding or allude to your wife’s superficial beauty. Seriously, you have to know how ignorant, inept, and gratuitously cruel you are, right? And so at bedtime, when there’s no food or obsequious toady to distract you, how are you able to put aside the self-loathing and fear of death and get some shut-eye?”

W. Kamau Bell

As a former CNN colleague of Tapper and Bash—he hosted the travel series United Shades of America on that network for seven seasons—W. Kamau Bell subtly acknowledged with this question why he was not chosen as moderator.

“Will you submit to a complete physical and mental examination by an independent medical board and if you are found unfit for any reason will you step aside and allow someone else to run for president? WAIT… WHY AM I BEING ESCORTED OUT OF THE ROOM BY MIKE JOHNSON AND NANCY PELOSI?”

Anthony Atamanuik

And finally, the comedian who so expertly embodied Trump on The President Show offered up a pair of questions for the two candidates that revealed he may actually have more animosity toward the current president than he does toward the man he portrayed for years as a petty, venal, idiotic psychopath.

“For Biden: Why are you willing to cloud all your first-term accomplishments by unequivocally supporting Bibi Netanyahu and his radical religious far right government and turning a blind eye to the gross humanitarian crisis in Gaza, considering that this criminal Israeli leader is essentially campaigning for your defeat in November?”

“For Trump: Are you and Dana White fucking?”

This post was originally published on Daily Beast

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