On Election Day it remains to be seen if the much-touted “blue wave” will actually wash away the ugliness and lies of Trumpian politics, but either way, Stephanie Miller has been riding it and taking liberals along with her via her popular radio program and live comedy shows. On Saturday, Nov. 3, a sold-out audience gave Miller a raucous standing ovation at the Saban Theatre, the third and final show in the progressive radio host and comedian’s Sexy Liberal Blue Wave Tour. The crowd — which included attorney Gloria Allred — seemed to channel its collective frustration with the Trump administration into extra emphatic and lingering cheers and applause, and when the orgasmic glee in the room finally climaxed, Miller joked, “That is a lot of DNA stains on my blue dress, Los Angeles.”
As host of The Stephanie Miller Show on SiriusXM, the Los Feliz–based broadcaster spends several hours a day talking about politics and current events, and since L.A. Weekly spoke to Miller about her rising profile last year, she's only gotten more popular. So how does she manage to make people laugh in what feels like a never-ending onslaught of bad news? “Trust me, to most of us comedians, it’s just as not-funny and scary and sad as it is to everybody else, but what we do is try to empower people with laughter,” Miller says, explaining that liberal comedians have always “punched up” their targets, criticizing people and institutions with more power in an attempt to weaken them. “To me, the reason the right-wingers aren’t funny is because they punch down. They punch at people less fortunate than they are.”
Miller likens responding to the latest news cycle to being on a hamster wheel, and acknowledges that the jokes don’t always come easily. “You just feel like, oh my God, how do we make this funny?” she laments. “As I always say, you have to laugh or you would cry all fucking day. This is worse than any of us could actually have imagined.”
The most common thing fans say to Miller is, “You’re the only thing keeping me sane,” which she says cracks her up because “I’m a woman in a basement going insane herself. I’m like, ‘America, you’re in danger, girl!’ I’m barely hanging on to my own sanity, but I think that’s what people need — to go, ‘Oh, I thought it was just me.’”
Saturday’s show started with a brief appearance by Martin Sheen (reprising his role as fictional president Jed Bartlet from The West Wing) escorted onstage by two of his Secret Service men. Sheen returned at the end of the show for a panel discussion with Miller and fellow performers John Fugelsang and Margaret Cho, Rob Reiner, Congressman Ted Lieu and Congressman Adam Schiff.
Saturday’s show was a fundraiser for Flip the 14, a Democratic organization working to flip the House of Representatives — but that wasn't the show’s only purpose. Miller thinks part of the reason her shows sell out is because progressives want to be around like-minded people. “It started as a joke calling it Sexy Liberal,” she reveals. “We’re not talking about us. We’re talking about the audience. It means you’re empathetic, open-minded and open-hearted.”
That may be true, but the sexy liberals in attendance at the Saban were far more focused on Miller than on one another. They showered her with love as she flowed through her set, making anti-Trump jokes like, “FEMA now is letting him text our phones directly? How long can it be before we get the dick pic, people?”
After pointing out that the refugees fleeing violence in South America are mostly women and children, she asked, “What did Jeanine Pirro say? ‘The caravan has child molesters, career criminals, wife beaters….’ I’m like, ‘How did Trump get his cabinet in there?’”
Miller was followed by comedian John Fugelsang, whose stand-up addressed everything from the un-Christian behavior of Christian Trump supporters to Kevin Spacey, whom Netflix fired from House of Cards after sexual assault allegations surfaced. Pointing out the irony, the comic noted, “I’m so proud to live in a country where fictional presidents cannot get away with sexual assault.”
Margaret Cho, introduced by Miller as “one of my sheroes,” talked about her bisexuality and did her signature impressions of her Korean mother. The hilarious Cho also took on Melania Trump, saying how disturbing it is that she has sex with Trump — “Immigrants do the jobs that nobody else wants,” she deadpanned.
During the celebrity panel that closed out the night, Sheen revealed that he had been arrested for political protests more than 50 times, while Rob Reiner spoke of what's on everyone's mind this week: elections. He told the crowd that while almost every election is described as “the most important,” he believes Tuesday, Nov. 6's to be the most significant of our lifetime.
Whatever the results of today's vote may be, it's nice to know we have performers like Miller to help get us through. She uses comedy to address serious political issues but her relatable humor make us feel that even the worst atrocities can be overcome. Her comedy is realistic but it’s also hopeful. If liberals can't find power in government, power in laughter might be the next best thing.
More about Stephanie Miller's radio and live shows here.