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Fallon Roasts Buttigieg: 'I'm the Avocado Toast of the Democratic Party!'

by Kilian Melloy
Tuesday Apr 16, 2019

Proving that politicians of both parties are still ripe for roasting, Jimmy Fallon did a hilarious turn in a spoof of openly gay Democratic 2020 hopeful Pete Buttigieg.

Buttigieg has made the rounds of TV talk shows of late, talking about the unique challenges of campaigning as an openly gay candidate — challenges that did not prevent him from winning re-election as the mayor South Bend, Indiana — and calling out the former governor of his state, Mike Pence, for Pence's long anti-LGBTQ history.

Pence, in the defensive, recently accused Buttigieg of attacking him for his "Christian faith" during an appearance on CNBC.

But the openly gay candidate — who declared his run for the presidency last week — refutes Pence's characterization of Buttigieg's comments, recently telling Ellen DeGeneres during an appearance on her show, "I'm not critical of his faith. I'm critical of bad policies. I don't have a problem with religion. I'm religious, too. I have a problem with religion being used as a justification to harm people and especially in the LGBTQ community."

In Fallon's clip, which was posted to YouTube on April 16, the comedian bounds up to a podium wearing a crisp white shirt and with his black hair parted to the side. Fallon's jokes tick a lengthy list of qualities that impress voters about the candidate, including his wit, intellectual accomplishments, and military service. But Fallon's starts his routine with a direct acknowledgment of the candidate's youth. Buttigieg, a Millennial, would be the youngest president ever elected were his run to propel him to the Oval Office.

"By age 14, I knew I wanted to be president of the United States, and, boy, the two years since have just flown by," Fallon joked.

The comedian went on to reference some of Buttigieg's accomplishments: "I'm a Rhodes scholar, a lieutenant in the United States Navy, and the two smartest kids in the world stacked on top of each other."

Dipping into from-the-headlines topicality, Fallon added, "I was so qualified to go to college, Harvard bribed me to go! That's how I got the nickname 'The Reverse Aunt Becky.' "

Buttigieg astonished the political establishment by raising $7 million early in the year. Last month he soared to third place at 11%, after Joe Biden (25%) and Bernie Sanders (24%), in an Iowa straw poll.

"In the past few months I've risen in the polls more than any other Democrat, and I'd like to thank each and every one of you for that," Fallon-as-Buttigieg said. "But most of all, I'd like to thank my husband... Chasten! Who's become so popular he makes BTS look like a Smashmouth cover band!"

The name-check of Buttigieg's husband, Chasten Glezman, echoed the candidate's own proud references to his marriage. Indeed, in one of his first swipes at Pence, Buttigieg professed that his marriage to Glezman "has moved me closer to God." In the same speech, Buttigieg demolished the claim — made often by the anti-LGBTQ religious right — that being heterosexual or not is a matter of "choice."

"Speaking only for myself, I can tell you that if me being gay was a choice, it was a choice that was made far, far above my pay grade," the candidate said.

Saying he wished "the Mike Pences of the world" could comprehend what he was saying, Buttigieg declared, "If you've got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator."

The anti-gay religious right went into paroxysms in the wake of those comments, with one conservative blogger attempting to fashion a Trump-esque nickname for the openly gay politician. Andrew Bieszad posited that the name "Buttigieg" derives from Arabic and translates to "father of chickens" — a linguistic claim that immediately led to an example of seventh-grade wit as the blogger proceeded to dub Buttigieg the "king of cocks."

Such juvenilia has hardly distracted the youthful candidate, who has not been shy on his own part about making his youth a talking point. "I belong to a generation that is stepping forward right now," the 37-year-old said when he first announced plans to look into a presidential run. "We're the generation that lived through school shootings, that served in the wars after 9/11. And we're the generation that stands to be the first to make less than our parents — unless we do something different."

Moreover, Buttigieg has tapped into growing unease among younger Americans around the issue of climate change. "When your generation is literally the one that will be on the receiving end of climate change, you just look at things differently," he noted.

Fallon channeled Buttigieg's comments, saying that "people still wonder what a Millennial president could bring to the table. But this is the generation that served overseas. This is the generation that's fighting climate change. This is the generation that said, 'Hey! What if we put avocados on everything?' "

"In the coming months I plan on bringing common sense to the Democratic party," Fallon, still in character, went on. "I'll speak to you in plain English — or in any of the 47 languages I know."

Added the comedian, "That's right: I'm a Navy vet, and I speak a ton of languages. So, basically, ladies, I'm your perfect man. Except I'm gay — so, basically, ladies, I'm your perfect man."

Fallon brought his routine home by summarizing, "I'm a little green, but I'm fresh, Instagrammable, and ultimately good for you. I'm the avocado toast of the Democratic party!"

Watch Fallon's routine below.


Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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