It’s 2016 all over again.
Donald Trump, the twice-impeached former president, is back in the news after being indicted last week and arraigned Tuesday in a Manhattan courthouse. I would have thought this nutty reality show would have been canceled after the series jumped the shark with the Jan. 6 insurrection, but a good part of the nation seems to enjoy having a gun pointed to the head of American democracy.
The only upside to the wall-to-wall coverage? The new video that Trump nemesis Randy Rainbow dropped in honor of the historic occasion. “Grumpy Trumpy Felon From Jamaica in Queens!”, a parody of the Andrews Sisters’ classic jump blues hit “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” finds Rainbow in top form.
Conducting another of his faux interviews with the 45th president, Rainbow retorts that he’d rather go skiing with Gwyneth Paltrow when Trump asks for his endorsement. The satire seems even more pointed than when Trump was in office. As media pundits count the ways the indictment could potentially catapult Trump back into the White House, Rainbow treats the former president like the morally deficient, lying, wheedling criminal defendant he is. (If you think this description is harsh, wait till you hear the truckload in the video.)
I caught up with Rainbow by phone to get his thoughts on Tuesday’s arraignment, the resurgence (or should I say recrudescence) of Trump in the media spotlight, the brilliant new video and whether he thinks this saga will end with you-know-who behind bars.
Did you watch the arraignment yesterday?
No, I haven’t seen anything. I just literally stepped off a five-day Broadway Cruise. I was one of the headliners. They had some amazing people: Alan Cumming, Kristin Chenoweth, Laura Benanti. It was a lot of fun, but since they have you on the ship, they really work you. I don’t know how I got the video out.
You released it on the ship?
I edited and posted it on the boat, between shows. I don’t know how, the Wi-Fi was so God awful. Now I have to start reviewing the footage of everything I missed yesterday. All I got to see were some still images.
How did you decide on the Andrews Sisters’ hit for your song about Trump’s indictment?
I keep a running list of songs that I would like to parody just because I like the song, not necessarily attaching it to any theme or subject. So it’s been on the list for a while and it just seemed like a good comeback song for him.
Were you inspired at all by Bette Midler’s version?
Of course. I’m inspired by everything that Bette does.
How long did this parody take to write?
Some of them just pour out of me and this was one of them. I had the idea of covering this song for a while. Those who are familiar with my body of work will recall “BRAGGADOCIOUS!,” which I talk about in my book as my big breakthrough video. The wordiness and harmonies of these songs are somewhat similar. I wanted to do a throwback or homage to myself, if I could. Make it really wordy, lots of adjectives. Give me a thesaurus and there’s no stopping me.
The satire seems even more cutting than before. Have you taken the gloves off for Trump 2.0?
I think it’s just where we are in the plot line. This show has been going on for how many years? What, am I going to be polite about it? There’s no choice but to really go for it, especially when you’re dealing with a subject who pulls no punches.
What did you do when he was laying semi-low at Mar-a-Lago?
I had time to write a book. I took a pottery class. It was nice, but even for the nine minutes that he was not in the headlines, there was no shortage of nonsense coming out of D.C. I had plenty of material to choose from, with Marjorie Taylor Greene, George Santos and Ron DeSantis — all these “Dick Tracy” villains that Trump unleashed.
Are you at all surprised that he’s once again the center of the media universe?
To some extent it’s bizarre and to some extent it makes complete sense. As long as there are stories and this kind of circus, they’re going to keep putting him in the news. Because people like keeping up with this ridiculous saga. Say what you will — and this might not be popular to say out loud — but this is entertaining as [expletive] hell. We want to see how it will end, and it never ends!
I think “Grumpy Trumpy Felon From Jamaica in Queens!” is one of your best videos.
Thank you. Musically the song is trickier than I thought. It’s not just all about the politics! It was a bit of a vocal lesson figuring out how to sing it. It took me half a day to find right the key. My music producer was in Spain and I was in Bermuda on a cruise ship. Somehow we found a way to connect and mix it, despite our geographical challenges.
Will we have to wait for a prison sentence for the next Trump video? Or, God forbid, if he gets back in the White House. Do you think that could happen?
Not if I have anything to say about it! Even with this latest incident, even with him being arrested and formally charged, I never quite believe that anything will really catch up with him. But I can’t imagine him back in White House at this point.
So do you have ideas about your next video?
My process has changed a little. It’s a little less off-the-cuff but still rapid and timely. We’re starting to plan some things in advance, including a little homage to Ron DeSantis. I haven’t tackled him in a year. Hopefully, by the time he announces his candidacy, it will be ready — not that I hope he runs!