'You gotta make them laugh'

By PHILIP EIL  |  July 24, 2013

YOU HAD FORMER RHODE ISLAND CONGRESSMAN PATRICK KENNEDY ONREAL TIMELAST MONTH TO TALK ABOUT HIS ANTI-POT LEGALIZATION ADVOCACY GROUP, SMART APPROACHES TO MARIJUANA. DID HIS MESSAGE RUB OFF ON YOU? DID YOU SEE THE LIGHT? I saw the dark. I was hoping I would rub off on him. It’s mystifying to me how someone with such liberal credentials would take such a hard line on that issue. I’ve been saying for a long time that [legalizing pot] is the “next gay marriage.” And I think that’s going to happen. I think it’s the next civil rights issue to fall.

But I guess he just doesn’t see it that way. I don’t get it because the Kennedy family certainly has had their substance abuse problems and I would think that he would know from a personal level that prescription drugs are a lot more dangerous than marijuana.

DO YOU THINK WEED WILL BE LEGALIZED IN YOUR LIFETIME? Well, it’s already legal in two states. I didn’t think that would happen in my lifetime. I got very discouraged. There was a time when I was optimistic, because I remember when we were in college, we used to sit around and say, “Boy, when we get to be fifty years old, we’ll be in power and of course then things will change, because we know it’s not harmful!”

Well, that seemed to come and go, so I was a little pessimistic. And then things seemed to turn around and [now] I think it’s at 47 percent approval nationwide to legalize marijuana. And that’s pretty close to the magic number. Because I’m sure you recognize that when gay marriage hit 51 percent approval, suddenly there was a lot of “evolving” on this, especially on the part of Democratic politicians. Suddenly they “evolved” on this issue overnight.

So [with marijuana legalization approval at] 47 percent, all I would say to the Democrats is “You’re four points from a strongly-held conviction.”

I ENJOYED WATCHING LAST YEAR’S BEHIND-THE-SCENES DOCUMENTARYA WEEK IN REAL TIME. BUT I WAS A LITTLE SURPRISED TO SEE THAT THE WRITERS’ ROOM WAS MADE UP OF ONLY WHITE GUYS. Believe me, I’ve . . . tried to address this. [But] I don’t have the luxury in my business of indulging someone who isn’t as good as the best. I only have six writers. So I had to find the best six.

I have tried. I hired a black woman a couple of seasons ago. We hired a black man a few seasons ago. I try. Now, they didn’t make it, like lots of other white guys have not made it. Jay Leno always says, “I’ve never fired a writer.” Well, I’ve fired plenty. I have a different philosophy. But Jay has 15, 16 writers. He can afford to keep them all. I can’t.

I have to have a very lean, productive machine and it’s the six best people I can find. And I wish we had more diversity, but maybe there’s just not a tradition of it as much, except among white men. And that will change over time. But until it does, I’m running a business here.

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