Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/Reuters
US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (l.) speaks with host Jimmy Fallon during an interview on 'The Tonight Show' in New York.

Clinton the comedian: Will late-night jokes broaden her appeal?

Hillary Clinton appeared on Jimmy Fallon's 'The Tonight Show' Wednesday night to bring her campaign agenda to young voters.

Hillary Clinton cracked a few jokes Wednesday evening on Jimmy Fallon’s "The Tonight Show," but for the most part, the Democratic candidate ditched one-liners in favor of highlighting serious issues.

Millennials may be key to a Democratic victory next fall, and with an annual average of 6.6 million viewers between the ages of 18-34, Mr. Fallon’s show seems like a perfect venue for Mrs. Clinton to reclaim an essential demographic.

"Our challenge is to again excite the passion of the youngest voters," said Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta in May. "After two terms of President Obama, it won’t be easy," he acknowledged.

Fellow Democratic nominee Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is currently king of the young voters, according to a recent study from online textbook company Chegg. Since early June, their polls show Clinton's support among college students plummeting from 40 to 18 percent support, while Sanders's support has climbed from 26 to 59 percent.

"Do you have any idea what it's like, to work so hard for something, to be so close getting it, then someone pops out of no where and tries to take it all away?" Clinton asked Fallon in the show’s opening skit.

Fallon, who was impersonating Donald Trump for the skit, replied, "Are you talking about Bernie Sanders?"

In New Hampshire polls, Sanders surpassed Clinton on Aug. 25, and the gap has been growing ever since, according to poll aggregator Real Clear Politics. As of Sept. 16, RCP showed Sanders beating Clinton by 10.5 points.

So Clinton used her time on "The Tonight Show" to redirect attention to her agenda. 

"Trump has immigration, Bernie Sanders has big business, what would be your issue that defines your campaign?" asked Fallon.

"Raising American’s incomes, getting more money into your paycheck so you can have a better chance, a better shot," Clinton responded, drawing audience applause. "We've got to get out from under the twin problem: that college is not affordable and the debt is just so burdensome. So I’m addressing both."

Clinton also stressed her views on gender equality. The show aired after the second GOP debate, where women’s rights and Planned Parenthood funding were hotly contested.

"I’ve spent my entire career fighting for women’s rights," said Clinton. "I’ll push for equal pay in the workplace, for protecting woman’s health and reproductive rights, making affordable child care a reality for families. That’s what I believe in, that’s what I’m fighting for."

When Fallon asked Clinton about Mr. Trump, the Republican frontrunner, the former Secretary of State appeared unphased. "He’s making the most of it," she said. "I’m having a good time watching it."

Will the appearance boost her performance among young voters? Perhaps the best summary of Clinton's comedic debut came from the opening skit.

"I’m traveling across our great nation, I’m listening to people’s stories, I’m confident Americans will see I can deliver for them, that they can count on me for them and their families," said Clinton.

And Fallon-as-Trump responded: "You sound like a robot."

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Clinton the comedian: Will late-night jokes broaden her appeal?
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today