Dissecting the Franken: Will Franken interview (part 2)
(part 1 can be found here)
Donnchadh: Your show isn’t political in the sense that you’re criticising individuals or parties, it’s more cultural politics. And what’s interesting is that it’s mostly aimed at liberal pious politics.
Will: I just don’t like people telling me what to do. Liberals, the liberal bent is this weird religion of language – you can’t say this, the whole thought-crime aspect of stuff like that. Plus I just wanted to avoid the political, too… when I moved to San Francisco, there were so many comedians doing anti-Bush jokes. I was obsessed with trying to be different, so I said I’m not doing Bush jokes, I will make fun of the people who make fun of Bush. Which is what I really loved about Chris Morris. I don’t believe the enemy of today is the government – the big enemy is the media.
Donnchadh: Yes, your other big target is junk TV…
Will: It elected our President. I’m not saying what I think or don’t think about Obama, but when Pepsi-Cola changed its logo to match the Obama logo, I thought, we should be wary of this. I find the liberal mentality very funny. Growing up in Missouri, it was a very right-wing kind of environment - ‘Don’t curse, that’s not right’. But the new Christians are the people who say ‘We call it the n-word. Don’t say that word’.
Donnchadh: On a slightly different note, you’ve performed in States for a number of years, is this your first time performing for an extended run in the UK?
Will: Oh, yeh.
Donnchadh: What are the big differences?
Will: It’s the most amazing thing that’s ever happened to me.
Donnchadh: This interview?
Will: This interview, right now. Out here, your ego goes through such a grind. You know there’s three thousand shows going on, you can’t care about numbers or what’s going to happen. I love talking to the comedians out here, the identification we all share is an amazing experience.
Donnchadh: And is your status a bit different than in the equivalent festival in the Sates? Would you consider yourself a bit more underground?
Will: Yeh, definitely. I ran into the woman who reviewed me for the Scotsman, she told me something really cool. In San Francisco especially I’m kind of spoiled, it’s a big fish in a small pool thing. She said ‘Isn’t it great, you get to work for it out here!’ And she had this weird fire in her eyes… This was about ten minutes before I was had to go on. I have been afraid every night… every night as I’m walking up there with that beer on the tray, I go ‘No turning back now!’
Donnchadh: Would you notice that there are different trends in comedy over here, things which are popular at the Fringe and that wouldn’t be so popular in the States, or vice-versa?
Will: I think there’s much more experimentation going on here. I mean, I haven’t seen The Boy With Tape On His Face, but I’ve seen the posters – for something like that in the States to have that big a poster, I don’t think you’re going to see that. That’s the stuff that really impresses me – the fact that a guy with tape on his face can get that big a billing. It also makes me feel safe, going ‘He can be weird, I can be weird’. The first time I saw Python’s Flying Circus, the first time I heard Frank Zappa’s Uncle Meat, the first time I read Waiting for Godot, I felt like, ‘I’m not alone and I’m not insane’. Cause I was making weird noises and doing faces as a kid... Or I was trying to do a certain type of comedy that was the same comedy, and once I saw Python and that stuff, I thought it doesn’t have to be that way. Maybe the stuff that you find funny actually is funny, and it doesn’t need to be this linear bullshit you see on the mainstream stand-up shows. It can be weird and subconscious.
Donnchadh: And twenty years later here you are. Thanks Will.