Question: Did the Bush administration make the "The Daily Show?"
Lizz Winstead: Well I think there's...The political climate, I mean...When it was being developed and it was the last years of Clinton, you know, remember that Clinton wasn't always just Monica. You know, there was welfare reform, there was all sorts of stuff that happened, those elections were also really great. So the show built itself on that and then when the Bush administration took off, yeah. I mean, it's sort of incredible how it felt like we hired them so we could have material. Like, there really wasn't an election. We just paid off America to vote for George Bush so that we could have a show.
Question: Was the McCain-Palin ticket a peak moment for political satire?
Lizz Winstead: Well I think you're forgetting the whole part of the political landscape which was the Bush administration, you had 10 Republican candidates, only three of them believe in evolution. You had Mitt Romney, you had Mike Huckabee, you had Hillary, you had Bill Clinton running off the rails. You had this power struggle between the first viable female candidate for president and the first viable African-American candidate and then you had John McCain on his own being a complete...He was like Yosemite Sam. Then Sarah Palin happened. So, there was a wealth of material and also, don't forget we had wire tapping. We had crazy, you know, attorneys who were, you know, political appointees from Pat Robertson University, we had Katrina, you know. There was so much going on before the election, into the election, the candidates themselves and John Edwards don't forget that, you know, Palin didn't come till September of 2007 and so...or 2008 I'm sorry. So, there was...That was, I mean, I have to say I don't...Tina Fey was probably sitting in her underwear eating cheerios on that morning when they stood on the stage in Minnesota and I'm sure she spat whatever was out in her mouth and said, "Oh my God, the dumbest woman in the world looks just like me. Ka-Ching!"
Question: Is it harder to make Obama jokes?
Lizz Winstead: I am someone who...I just finished doing a one-woman show about Obama's first 100 days and it was not hard at all...because Obama ...You know, Obama is hope and change and he is historic but he is a politician. He came up from the machine. You know, he's not Gandhi, he is a centrist, he is inconsistent, you know. I think for me progressives glommed on so much on Obama. He never claimed he was a progressive and so there is a lot of humor in mind in what people expected Obama to be because they didn't even read his books or look at how he legislated and he has had hysterical moments. You know, he is not an idiot like Bush so I think you have to be smarter in your politics which means your audience hopefully is smarter and paying more attention but, you know, you have a treasury. Our economy is falling apart and there's one guy that works at the treasury, Tim Gartner and they can't find anyone else to fill the jobs because all of those people have committed crimes. So, there's that, there's Larry Summers, you know, there's Obama expanding the wire tapping program. There's the closing of Gitmo. There's Dick Cheney, unavoidable for comment, you know, espousing his bizarre belief system, you know, there's torture memos. So, there has been...There hasn't been a beat, a moment that has fallen off where like, "Oh, what are we going to talk about?" It is seamlessly transition from Bush into Obama in just a very different way of looking at things.
Question: What topics do you enjoy satirizing?
Lizz Winstead: In general...The media is always a source. It sort of my raison d' etre, you know, I absorb print media, I absorb TV media. At the moment the "Morning Joe" program I am completely obsessed with because I watch Joe Scarborough bully Mika Brzezinski and it feels like she has Stockholm syndrome. It feels like everyone on that show is so unhealthily co-dependent on each other that it's like watching one of those weird Ibsen family dramas play out in front of you, except with some current events in it.
Recorded on: May 27, 2009