Making fun of presidential candidates has long been a campaign ritual. From the 19th-century humor magazine Puck to TV’s “Saturday Night Live,” satirists have found big audiences for political humor. Today’s campaign trail includes mandatory stops on late-night comedy and talk shows, as more young people get their political news from TV comedy shows. With their visual power and vast audiences, television and the internet amplify the jokes, helping to shape, and sometimes distort, a politician’s image.
In 1877, Puck, America’s first successful humor magazine, made fun of former President Ulysses S. Grant’s reputation for drinking.