Host James Corden took a jab at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump while celebrating the diversity of the 2016 Tony Awards. After offering a touching tribute to the victims of the mass shooting in Orlando, Corden celebrated the diversity of this year’s Tony Award nominees, noting correctly that it was much more diverse than the Oscars. “Think of tonight as the Oscars, but with diversity,” Corden joked before he doubled down, adding, “It is so diverse that Donald Trump has threatened to build a wall around this theater.”
The Oscars, of course, received quite a bit of backlash earlier this year for its overwhelmingly white nominees. The Tony Awards, on the other hand, have an impressively diverse batch of nominees, though it is important to note that there is still progress to be made. This year, Eclipsed writer Danai Gurira is the only woman nominated for Best Play, while the director of Eclipsed, Liesl Tommy, was also the only female director nominated for Best Direction of a Play — not to mention the only director of color.
Thanks to shows like Eclipsed, The Color Purple and Hamilton, nominees at this year’s Tonys are more diverse than ever, but diversity needs to be sustained. In an interview with HuffPost Live, Gurira added that she hoped to see a day where diversity on Broadway was no longer a news story. “I understand the significance of the moment, but I also find it a shame that there is any significance to the moment… I yearn to see that the next time one of my plays is on Broadway, it’s just not that much of an event for a black woman to have written a play for Broadway,” she said.
Meanwhile, Trump has built his campaign around the promise that he will build a wall to mark the border between the United States and Mexico. “I will build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me,” Trump said during a speech announcing his candidacy in June 2015. A wall, Trump continues to insist, would keep illegal immigrants from coming into the United States. But with one statement, Corden put a spotlight on the racist subtext of Trump’s proposal.
It seems safe to say that Corden is not on board with Trump’s suggested policies. Nor, it should be noted, are the Broadway stars who laughed loudly in the audience. Other stars also took aim at Trump’s immigration policies. While introducing a performance from the cast of On Your Feet, a musical based on the lives of Gloria Estefan and her husband Emilio Estefan, Emilio joked that the performers from On Your Feet were “all legal,” quipping, “We all have papers.” Meanwhile, Nathan Lane took aim at Trump while presenting, joking that winning a Tony Award means everything, adding, “That’s the first thing I learned at Trump University.”
This is the second time this week that Trump has been the butt of a joke on Broadway. On Monday, Meryl Streep poked fun at Trump during the 2016 Public Theater Gala in New York City, donning orange makeup, a wig and a large, fake belly to play Trump for a political interpretation of “Brush Up Your Shakespeare.” Christine Baranski, a Tony Award winner, played opposite her as Hillary Clinton.
Trump probably isn’t watching the Tony Awards, but here’s hoping he hears about it in excruciating detail tomorrow.