By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Across the street?
Meaning other shows on other networks making big hay out of this. Which really made me laugh. I never have given money to any candidate in my life. I don’t show up supporting candidates. But because of this one incident, now I’m perceived as a Republican.
You told me on the phone you regretted having done it.
I don’t regret having done it — because the polls had closed. And Arnold is a friend of mine. I’ve known him for a long time. I said, “Ladies and gentlemen, the next governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger.” That’s all I said.
You talk a lot about how you bank your salary from NBC because you do all these other paying gigs. You get a lot of corporate gigs, and corporations don’t want Bush bashed because they’re giving huge amounts to his campaign.
There are all kinds of corporations. People think you’re doing something for Halliburton. No, there are a lot of companies that are independent, Democrat and, of course, a lot that are Republican as well.
You make a lot of money from the corporate gigs?
Do you think if you were perceived as bashing Bush, you would get as many corporate gigs as you do?
Um, if I were perceived as bashing anybody, I wouldn’t be a comedian. You know I did the White House Correspondents’ Dinner this year, and this is the most partisan crowd. You do a joke about Bush, and half of them sit like this [his hands are in his lap] and the other half are applauding. And then I do Kerry jokes, and half the people are like this [his hands are in his lap again]. It’s like the most juvenile atmosphere you could possible imagine. And every now and then you do a joke that will cross both sides, so they both laugh. Did I give you the Nancy Reagan example? Years ago, I did a White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and it was when Reagan was in office. I said Nancy Reagan had won the Humanitarian of the Year award. I’m so glad she beat out that conniving little bitch Mother Teresa. Well, everyone applauded because it’s so ridiculous. Even people who were Republicans laughed at it.
But I’m not the only journalist who has perceived for a while that you seem to be bashing Clinton as if it were back in the Clinton administration instead of bashing Bush.
Now when you say bashing Clinton, I never questioned his patriotism. If you take doing the occasional sex joke, to me that’s not bashing. I will never denigrate or make fun of John Kerry’s service record. He is a true hero who served his country. I may make fun of the fact he mentions it a lot. But I will never call his character into question. I heard some guy on talk radio the other day going on about Kerry’s medals being phony. Now, I won’t even do jokes about that because I don’t want to plant that seed.
You’ve done jokes about him allegedly throwing the medals.
But that was harmless. It’s not as if he didn’t earn them.
But you’ve picked up on the Republicans bashing Teresa.
I did one tonight that she went to Wendy’s and tried to order the pheasant. Is that a bashing joke? Or is that a rich person’s joke?
First of all, I know we’ve done plenty of jokes about Laura Bush and the twins. When the girls were in trouble, when they were drinking, it was weeks and weeks of jokes about that. There were tons of them.
Have you ever told a joke about Laura Bush? I don’t remember one.
Yes, I said she was a librarian, so how did she meet Bush? Where could those two have possibly run into each other?
But that’s denigrating Bush. That’s not denigrating her.
It’s a little tricky because she’s not doing anything. [Long pause.] You know, comedy’s a bit like the Mafia. You try to avoid the wives and the family.
How do you make sure your political comedy is evenhanded?
I don’t have a file. So I don’t keep track. I get letters all the time that say, “How come you never make fun of Bush.” And I go, “What show are you watching?” I probably do twice as many Bush jokes as I do Kerry jokes. And then I get letters from people who say the same thing about Kerry. But I do a lot more Bush jokes.
I suspect that Letterman is more anti-Bush than you.
Does he show his dislike maybe a little more than I do? Probably. But to me, Dave is a TV broadcaster. I am a comedian. It’s just different. My job is to get laughs. For what I’m doing, sometimes sarcasm and irony do not work as well as a joke. But I don’t think our politics are probably much different. I’m also at a disadvantage. Because you know you can never ask Dave to answer any of these questions.
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