In that I mean, there are so many people who are doing comedy who are almost apologizing for the fact that they are doing the form of comedy. That ironic detachment to me is very, very frustrating. And, I get it, and there’s a place for it, and it’s kind of what Steve Martin did, but that was back in the 70s, and I’m kind of done with it now. What I really love, and what I’m seeing so much less of than ever before, are people speaking from the heart. Somebody who really, truly wants to wear a fucking birthday hat, because they’re happy that it’s their birthday, and they want to let everybody know, instead of wearing a birthday hat with irony.
Tell me what 75% of the comedians you see in any given month...tell me what they really feel and believe? You can’t do it from their acts.
Was this book written, in part, to prod comedians today to be more substantive?
Perhaps. It’s certainly something to put out there. There is one conscious aspect of this. Dan and I both certainly understood that if we could take all of these bright lights and put them in one place and give them all focus, then it becomes like a laser beam. But, that was more driven by the fact that they are speaking truth to power. That’s more what that’s about. This is born of the latter years of the Bush administration, and we’re still paying the price for it. Believe me, nothing has changed under Obama.
But, it’s very important for people to speak the truth. In the latter years of the Bush administration, you weren’t getting the truth in media, you weren’t getting the truth in academia, you weren’t getting the truth in conventional discourse. The discourse was stilted, except for comedians, who don’t give a fuck, who would say what they really felt and thought. Regardless of whatever impact it had, it was clear to us that that was more important, in our opinions, now than ever before.
Do you think satirists are responsible, in any way, for ensuring that people are receiving their jokes as satire? Is Randy Newman, for example, not doing his job if people don’t get that the lyrics of “Rednecks” are satire?
I would love to say there is a responsibility, in the purest sense, because what we do is communicate, and we try to communicate as clearly as possible. The truth is I think it’s as arbitrary as arbitrary can be. I really don’t think we can take that responsibility, especially if you’re talking to more than your little village. If you’re talking to people who have a whole different set of references than you personally and your close coterie of friends, it’s going to be misunderstood by somebody. I just think we can’t concern ourselves with that. We have to say, “I’m doing what I do” and hope for the best.
Especially in this world, I see people get misinterpreted all of the time. Especially now, you go into blogs and the internet, and for as many people as there on Earth, there are that many opinions. It’s like, “Fuck, man.” It’s actually liberating, because there’s no way in hell that everybody will get everything in the same way. And, if that’s the case, then you have really, really reached the lowest common denominator.