In honor of The Green Room’s broadcast on Showtime, I am reposting my Huffington Post article and interview with the host of The Green Room and author of Satiristas, Paul Provenza.
Paul Provenza is a thirty-year stand up veteran and actor who made the critically acclaimed documentary The Aristocrats, about the dirtiest joke ever told. Now he’s brought the filth that comedians spew to America’s bookshelves with !Satiristas!, a new book with Dan Dion’s photography, and the Showtime series The Green Room, a behind the scenes look at today’s best comedians.
Will his witty propaganda ever be stopped?
ALI MACLEAN: Who the hell do you think you are, Paul Provenza?
PAUL PROVENZA: I’m someone who nobody would hire so I had to make my own shit.
AM: And that shit was your book !Satiristas!? What is a Satirista? Is it like a Socialist?
PP: Sort of. It’s more like a fashionista.
AM: In your book and on your show, The Green Room with Paul Provenza, which is premiering on Showtime this week, you give up and coming comics, like that commie, fascist, socialist Lee Camp, a platform. So why not give new comics like Sarah Palin a chance? Even Jay Leno, who is in your book, gave her a chance. Why isn’t she in your book?
PP: You know she’s just not funny enough.
AM: So it’s all about talent? What advice would you have for someone like Sarah Palin in her budding stand up career?
PP: Sarah Palin needs to use the words ‘fuck’ and ‘cunt’ more often, and then I think she will appeal to a wider audience.
AM: Don’t you think she probably does that behind closed doors?
PP: No, she IS a fucking cunt. But she needs to use the words more in her act.
AM: Do you agree with Jay Leno who, in your book, said that being a satirist will put you out of business in the comedy world?
PP: Right. Stephen Colbert and Bill Maher and I were all talking about that and we all agree with him. Bill called to borrow a few bucks and Stephen wanted me to come get him at the airport. He didn’t have enough for cab fare.
AM: So why is Jay Leno in the book !Satiristas! when he says he doesn’t believe in satire?
PP: Because he’s someone who is on TV and does a monologue about the day’s events everyday, and makes the choice NOT to take a stand on anything. We thought that would be rather interesting in the context of everybody else. Plus we’re all hoping to get on his show. We’re really just sucking cock.
AM: Do you think he’s maybe doing a satire of a blue-collar guy?
PP: That’s a good question.
AM: Hmmm, maybe I should have cut that one. Next question.
Mike Nichols said that you can’t be Ann Coulter and be funny. How about George Bush? Karl Rove? Paul, if you had to teach them in a comedy class could you train them to do a tight five-minute spot at the Chuckle Hut?
PP: They’re more sketch performers. They’re sketch as opposed to stand up. They write these elaborate sketches like the War in Iraq and the presidential campaigns.
AM: But much like SNL, the sketches go on forever and ever. How attracted were you to Ann Coulter when you two were on Red Eye on Fox News together?
PP: I was so attracted to her. I got her number from the producers. I went home and went on Craigslist and got some black thugs and was going to invite her over.
AM: Would you change your politics if you started falling for a woman?
PP: I wouldn’t change my politics but I was so attracted to Ann Coulter that I thought that maybe I was gay.
AM: Victoria Jackson. Satirist or truth-sayer?
PP: I have no idea what the fuck Victoria Jackson is. I think she is furniture. I’m not sure.
AM: How about Dennis Miller?
PP: Dennis Miller? Next president of the United States. He will go head to head against Al Franken. Unless the third party candidate comes in and sweeps, and that would be Dane Cook. Dane Cook is essentially a one-man tea party.
AM: In your Henry Rollins interview you ask: “Shouldn’t entertainers just entertain and shut the fuck up?” So, like, why don’t you?
PP: Because they stopped serving airline food.
AM: So if our corporations could get the airlines to serve food on airplanes, then you guys would shut the fuck up and entertain again?
PP: Yeah, we’d have something to talk about again.
AM: Why do most comedians feel the need to destroy the fabric of our country that Betsy Ross and so many hard working women toiled to weave with their weaving fabric making things?
PP: Weaving fabric-making things?
AM: The olde timey machine that makes fabric. I didn’t have time to google the name of it.
PP: We’re not really tearing apart the fabric. It’s already coming apart. We’re just pulling at the threads and seeing if we can make something else happen.
AM: You shouldn’t tear apart the flags. It’s an important part of America.
PP: Well, here it’s pertinent to quote the late, great Bill Hicks, and say: “Huh, my flag was made in Korea.”
AM: We don’t actually want to make them here today. We have someone else make them.
PP: Yeah, children in a third world country. That’s how we spread democracy.
AM: Exactly. They’re lucky. Guess you’re not going to answer that question so I will ask you another one. Aren’t most comedians just products of broken homes with shitty fathers? If you just had more hugs and more Jesus, would you even BE funny?
PP: Aren’t broken homes and shitty fathers the American way?
AM: In certain states. But if you go to church you can get over it and you can become a productive member of society.
PP: I actually go to church. I know it’s hard for you to believe. It’s only because you know that Jesus on the cross? I love his smooth hairless body.
AM: This is what I’m talking about when I say you’re ripping apart the flag that Betsy Ross and her weavers worked so hard on.
PP: I’m not ripping apart the flag that Betsy Ross worked so hard on. If I had the flag that Betsy Ross worked so hard on, I wouldn’t destroy it. I’d put it up on EBay because it’s gotta be worth some serious coin. And that is the American way.
AM: That is true. That is why I’m voting for Meg Whitman. Here is a comic’s question for you. When is too soon, too soon to do a joke? Will it being too soon make you want to do the joke more? If so, what’s wrong with you?
PP: Yes. I will want to do it more. As a comedian, I’m like one of those on-the-scene reporters. I will actually go and try to find disasters so I can write jokes as the disasters unfold.
AM: You’re basically a comedic neo con. You create bad things and reap the benefits. Like Halliburton. You’re more of a Republican than I thought.
PP: There is no democrats or republicans, right or left, red state or blue state. We are all one. And we are all unified against Mexicans.
AM: Because they’re bad?
PP: We don’t want them coming here and taking their country back.
AM They’ve taken TV time slots too. Like Carlos Mencia.
PP: I am personally for open immigration but I’d like to restrict our borders specifically against Carlos Mencia. Cable TV is not protecting our borders.
AM: You’ve described your new show on Showtime, The Green Room, as comedy jazz. Most Americans don’t really get jazz, or like it. That’s why we listen to Britney Spears and country music. Care to reclassify the show?
PP: Yeah I know jazz is completely un-American. But the reason why America doesn’t like it is because it’s not funny. We’ve made jazz funny.
AM: Have you made it less ethnic?
PP: It’s less Mexican.
The Green Room with Paul Provenza airs Thursdays at 10:30 pm on Showtime
Satiristas!: Comedians, Contrarians, Raconteurs & Vulgarians
By Paul Provenza and Dan Dion
(IT Books, Hardcover)
can be found in bookstores everywhere or on Amazon
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