Magazine article The New Yorker

Talking Heads

Magazine article The New Yorker

Talking Heads

Article excerpt

Talking Heads

After last week's debate, Donald Trump was awarded the following three "grades"--two by actual political pundits and one by a fictional pundit, the invention of two comedy writers from Brooklyn.

Carter Eskew: "Trump wasn't prepared." (C-minus)

Mike Edelman: "Trump's sniffing tic was a distraction." (D)

Carl Diggler: Manners (F), Lip-Pursing (B-minus), Avoiding Racial Slurs (A-plus).

Diggler, the parody pundit (official title: Chief Insider Beltway Hack at, provides commentary that is more ridiculous than the real thing, but not by much.

"Carl is reactive, pompous, and makes everything about himself," Virgil Texas, one of Diggler's co-creators, said last Tuesday.

"He loves the horse race, not the substance," Felix Biederman, the other co-creator, said. "He loves false equivalences and centrist discourse." The previous night, Texas and Biederman, both in their twenties, had provided live debate commentary onstage at Carolines. Then they stayed up until 4 A.M., drafting Diggler's post-debate analysis, and got to the office by early afternoon. They stood outside, on Twenty-second Street, smoking Camels.

"When we started writing Carl, a year ago, it was a pretty straight parody of a few pundits--Chris Cillizza, Mark Halperin, Ron Fournier," Texas said.

"Any of those interchangeable assholes who get on TV, or on their blogs, and go, 'Who won the week?' " Biederman said. "It's, like, 'Who cares, you smug dipshit?' The whole thing is broken."

They went upstairs, made coffee, and entered Cafe's audio booth to record a post-debate edition of DigCast, Diggler's weekly podcast. Texas plays Diggler's sidekick and Biederman plays Diggler, pitching up his basso profundo by fifty per cent and adding a dash of Ned Flanders.

"So Carl will recap his top moments," Texas said, scrolling through a debate transcript on his phone. "Trump's Sean Hannity thing. Trump referring to Chicago as a teeming hellhole."

Did they watch any TV debate analysis to prepare for the podcast? "Absolutely fucking not," Biederman said. For one thing, neither of them has a working TV. "We have friends who watch CNN all day and then complain about how bad it is, which is essentially like eating spoonfuls of shit out of the toilet and then going, 'This tastes bad! …

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