Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, a former comedian, has been diplomatic this week (“Nobody pushed me”) about being pressured by Donald Trump to dig up dirt on his Democratic opponent. In the pulled-together transcript of the two presidents’ phone conversation that took place in July, Mr. Zelensky sounded accommodating and, for all too obvious reasons, at times downright flattering.
But back in Kiev, Block 95, the comedy show that Zelensky created and once starred in, has had plenty to say about Trump. None of it was tactful.
In a skit shown earlier this month, the show parodied the 2016 American presidential debate. A heavyset male comedian plays Trump, a male comedian in a blond wig plays Hillary Clinton, and a male comedian in blackface and a curly wig plays the moderator, Oprah Winfrey. (Such is Ukrainian humor.)
Trump starts out by belligerently refusing to take any questions from Oprah. “Because I am black?” Oprah asks.
“No,” Trump says, “because you are a baba [broad].” (Laughter.)
The skit continues.
Hillary: “See, he is a misogynist, a racist, and a homophobe.”
Trump: “I have nothing against homosexuals. As long as they aren’t Mexican.” (Laughter.)
In the next bit, an actor playing Larry King replaces Oprah as moderator, and chides Trump for swatting Oprah on the behind, saying it is sexist.
Trump: “I treat men and women absolutely the same.”
Larry King: “Is that so?”
Trump swats Larry King on the behind and nods. “See?”
Zelensky and Trump have more than politics in common. Trump got his political start as the president of the Trump Organization on The Apprentice and Zelensky played a fictional Ukrainian president in a popular sitcom that was a spin-off from Block 95. That role positioned Zelensky as a populist outsider and helped him win the presidency last April. But throughout his career, he has played plenty of other roles, including dressing up in a wig and high heels as Carrie Bradshaw in a parody of Sex and the City, set in a muddy Ukrainian village.
Trump is now hounded by questions—and likely impeachment hearings—about whether he abused the power of the presidency to try and derail his likely Democratic opponent in the 2020 election. As they watch and wince at Zelensky’s public humiliation, Ukrainians may be wondering if their president abused his influence with his old castmates to make fun of Trump. —A.S.