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I've always depended on the kindness of strangers
After music and movies, stand-up comedy is my other love. I also believe it's the best medicine - a great feeling that can't be duplicated by anything else.

This might not be the funniest clip, but I think it's fitting and profound.

BILL HICKS
(It's a Ride)



"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."



I've always depended on the kindness of strangers
(Looks better in the following link -- also a great site for anything)

http://textuploader.com/dd87n
http://textuploader.com/dd87w

Paul Krassner (The Realist)
Interview with Mort Sahl

7-13-1963 - THE REALIST - an impolite interview with mort sahl Q: Say something--I just want to test the voice level on this machine. A: All right--we're making a test here. Stop the tests! Q: Okay. You've been doing what you do for ten years now- A: Christmas, it'll be ten years. Q: What changes have you noticed that have occurred during this time? A: Well, it's gone from from children's entertainment to adult education. Q: Do you want to expand on that? A: I can say what I say faster, and the audience seems to give me a certain credence as an elder statesman, so that they really listen to those pronouncements. When I was starting, everybody was calling me a radical and saying it was impossible, and now they've come to accept it--nobody stand up and says I'm a radical, by any means--and I probably go farther now than I ever went. So, in other words, I have more license. And, as Theodor Reik once said, "Anybody can say what he thinks, but you have to know what you think, which is tougher." I don't want to minimize this--there's a few changes we ought to lay out here. I constructed a network of theatres where people can speak--they happen to be saloons, and people said it could not be done--in complete freedom. I started college concerts; I started emceeing at the jazz festivals--that is, I introduced verbalization at the jazz festivals--I constructed, for what they're worth, Mr. Kelly's [in Chicago], I introduced The Blue Angel [in New York] to something besides that effete trash they were presenting--that inside nothing of the East 70s--Storyville [in Boston], the hungry i [in San Francisco], The Crescendo [in Los Angeles], and then finally took the thing into The Copa [in New York], The Fountainbleu [in Miami], into the larger rooms, to where they accepted it, on my terms; I started comedy records in this country--in 1957, was the first one. The whole climate has been changed, including network television. Everywhere I've gone, I have tained them, so to speak. It may not be the Midas touch, but they have come away with a different coloration than when they started it. I don't think that's to be minimized. What I'm saying in effect is, the next guy that came along after me didn't have the trouble I had. And that's no minor accomplishment. If a guy comes in with anything odd now-- that is, away from the norm-- people don't throw him out on that basis alone' they say, "Well, there is precedent, let's hear him out." Unfortunately, most of those guys have nothing to offer, but I can't control that, I'm sorry to say. Because I'm in the audience, too, and I don't hear much. Q. How do you explain the paradox--that you do go further now even though your audience has broadened. A. Oh, because I developed skills along the way which are theatrical. This is not in the area of social heroism, because a moral commitment is early in your life--but then how to implement it becomes a theatrical skill. And I go farther because I give them more--for one thing, I don't do twenty minutes, I do an hour, an hour-and-a-quarter--and I have created a climate whereby you can do it. As I say, I've created a climate that has a bigger appetite than it has qualified people to meet that appetite. There';s hundreds of people running around called "The New Comedians"--but none of them are saying anything. I don't think they're overly laden with content, but the audience is definitely ready for it. So you find people who are completely ignorant making political references, whereas ten years ago--when I made political references because they were uppermost in my mind--I ran the risk of being called a Communist. And I was once called one. And I suied a guy over it, and won the suit. A libel suit in Los Angeles. Q. Who was it? A. Jaik Rosenstein in that thing called Hollywood Close-Up. So I went to court and nailed him. Q. How do you feel about the criticism from certain quarters that once you're accepted by The Establishment, you become less effective? A. Well, they have to establish that I've been accepted by The Establishment. No one can assume that. And the people who have said those things have been incorrect. One, Richard Gehman--who used the phrase in Cavalier magazine that I "go with the strength"--was referring to the fact that I was acquainted with "Senator" Kennedy, not President Kennedy. Another is Nat Hentoff, who claims that I never said anything about the Kennedys, that I never made any jokes about the Kennedys. Actually, that's kind of healthy, to have all those peoplee completely misinformed--they don't know what your trajectory is--because that, by default, proves that they are not arbiers of our society. They don't know what the hell they're talking about. One thinks you're with the administration, and the other thinks you're not with anything. One thinks it's anarchy, and the other think you're a Democrat. So obviously I've been successful in throwing hte hound dogs off my path. Q. When I said "accepted by The Establishment,"I meant the New Yorker profile, the Time magazine cover story-- A. Oh, that's different. I'm completely in favor of being accepted by The Establishment, but you have to be accepted on your own terms. If the only verification of your art is the fact that you're done in, then I don't accept that as verification. I not only survived, but I prevailed--and that is because I identify with a long line of merit. That's my one distinction: I chose the Good Guys. I may not be one of them, but at least I recognize them. And I believe that, for those people who think that the only verification of your cause is to be Christ, rememeber there's a two party story. There's crucifixion, but there's also resurrection. Q. This reference to the Good Guys, which implies that there are also Bad Guys--he cleverly surmised--well, here's a quote from an article--"The Complacent Satirists"--in the June issue of Encounter: "The essence of satire lies in catching the audience by surprise in order to bring its members to see themselves, their beliefs, their institutions, and their behaviour in an unfamiliar, ridiculous, and unfavorable light. Though satire usually assumes the guise of entertainment, its intention is quite different, being to make people feel uncomfortable, guilty, or ashamed of what they believed, did, or supported." Now, if you set up this kind of we-they feeling-- we're the Good Guys and they're the Bad Guys--then, according to this definition of least, aren't you failing to impart the essence of satire? A. I didn't say we're the Good Guys; I said I identify with the Good Guys. You know, I'm talking about the giants through history when I say the Good Guys--to identify with a certain kind of thinking that I recognize and I think has merit, whether it's Freudian thinking or Socrates thinking or whatever--I'm talking about gigantic concepts that determined your faith before you were born. I'm not talking about the audience. In fact, a verification of what you just said is in people in the audience who come up and yell at me from night to night: "You don't leave us anything! You don't leave anybody standing@ The vindicative spills out on us, on our values, on the way we live, on the Democrats, on the Republicans..." They term it anarchy. So I didn't say the audience are Good Guys, by any means. I took them apart first. Q. And yet, didn't you once say to me that the Realist makes a mistake when we make fun of liberals because we give fodder to the conservatives? A.Well, in some areas. I think the Realist is probably the most vital publication in the United States; I've often said that to people. But saying it to you is something else again; I'm not giving fodder to any bigots who are enemies of yours, by censure--when I say it to you, then the facts can be considered--I don't think the magazine should dissipate its time on crudeness, and I think there's an appetite in the magazine for crudeness; in other words, what we can get away with by writing things on the side of a barn. I write what I say in Time magazine; not in the Reporter, not in the Nation, not in the Realist. I want as many people to hear it, undiluted, on my terms, as possible. See, I think there are more skillful ways of saying things than that cartoon you ran [on the cover of issue #39] about the world being in bed, and the Russians and the Americans. In fact, I think you're evading responsibility by making out that the whole world is a hoax--the whole world is a put-on, morality is a put-on--in othe rwords, I think you confuse puritanism and morality. I think you confuse puritanism and morality. I think it's a mistake of the magazine. But with all of that, it's still better than anything that's being printed. Q. I'm really pleased to hear criticism of that cartoon because there's been so much praise of it-- A. Oh, it was awful. That's crude, that's terrible, that's Men's Room Literature. Q. But wait now. The theme of that cartoon was on attack on the theory of collective guilt. Isn't that what you do too, really? A. I don't know. I don't do it that way. I can do it within the confines--see, I don't think virtue is to be spat upon. First of all, virtue is rare, so let's not throw it away, we don't stumble upon it all that easily, it's very difficult to locate. And once we have it, I don't think it's made for people to wipe their feet on. And I don't do it that way. Mankind is not to be--the ultimate configuration of man is not there so that you can deface it. Because I don't think that's rebellion, for one thing; I think that's a very importent kind of rebellion. Whatever you do, whether it's a rebellion or anything creative, has to be done within a framework. There has to be a frame of reference, and if we're not within the frame, then there is no sanity. We have to define the purpose of this life. Now that may mean lawfulness, but lawfulness is for survival, not to inhibit creativity Q. But, to me, the whole theme of that cartoon was: Though shalt not deface mankind. A. Oh, yeah, but look a the way he took it--the most direct way--it shows a great impoverishment on the part of the guy that drew the cartoon [Guindon]. In other words, if you could only reduce everything to a sexual situation--first of all, sex is only what comes out, anyway. Much more subtle drives are going on. That's one of the ways you can show hostility, is sex. And one of the ways you can show high regard for someone, is sexual. But--gee, I mean it's so obvious,--unskilled, untutored. I find that cartoon offensive. I don't mind telling you, that kind of thing is offensive to me. I don't dig that. And it's not because I'm not free. I've been in the world since I was 12, and I know what goes on--but I don't think it has to go on that way. And to equate Russia with the United States in that sense is a way of obviating your own responsibility as an adult. It's a way of not choosing up sides, and not defining anything, or not analyzing anything. And wha makes it maddening is that a page away you have quite a scorching analysis of the world situation--you really deal with Cuba, and Vietnam, and the FBI, and whatever else, and you see them quite clearly. Then something like that comes along, and I think it's ridiculous. In other words, if you say something truthful, and you use profanity in order to test the law, I'll defend your right to use the profanity, but I'd hate to see your message stilled while we argue over the use of profanity. Because I think you should be heard. I don't want you to compromise the truth--you know, I don't care how you say it; if that's the only way you can say it, that's something else again, that's another argument. Q. I feel like saying: "Are there any other comedians I haven't offended?" A. It's an opportunity for me to ask you about the magazine, too, because I'm really concerned with what you're doing, because nobody else is doing it. Q. There was one word you said--responsibility--responsibility to what? A. To yourself. That's where it starts. Q. Yeah, well, that's what I was talking about when I said collective guilt. In other words, this cartoon was expressing a mood; it used a sexual analogy to express a mod which I think you yourself have expressed on stage. Every night, perhaps. A. Yeah, but I don't think that's true. I don't think that both the United States and Russia are raping the world. They are the world--whether they subdivide it or not, they're a good portion of it, and they're influential nations--and I think that's a childish way to look at it. You cannot reduce the riddle of the power struggle in this hemisphere, where the fact that you have an administration that defers to the cold war, or to capitalism; or you have a socialistic country in the East such as the Soviet Union that is trying to westernize, so to speak--you can't reduce it to that--that's a childish way to look at it. Plus the fact that it's crude and offensive. Q. Now you used the word rape. How do you know that the female representing the earth was not being submissive? A. Or even seductive. Well, I'll never know. I didn't see her face in that cartoon; you didn't emphasize that part, you know. Q. Right. So isn't it possible that you're projecting something into the cartoon-- A. Well, the question is, who can interpret my remark? I mean who's fit to interpret it? A docotr. Q. But I don't know if you answered the question that I posed--about our making-fun-of-the-liberals giving fodder to the conservatives-- A. Oh, yeah, well, they'll pick up anything they can. It's much the same as if during this whole strike-out-for-civil-rights, during the period of the Negro's agitation in this country, if there are certain excesses by irresponsible hoodlums who happens to be colored, and we point it out, we're giving fodder to people who have stepped on all Negroes for the last hundred years, and we certainly don't want to do that. In other words, you have to be careful who you talk to. It's just like if you produced a play today, it's nice to hire Negro actors, but if you made one a villain, I think you'd damage the cause. Q. But don't you often say things on stage that could give fodder to conservatives? A. Very often, sure. I've had to, to dramatize the situation. But I have to, because ultimately we have to get at the truth, and when the audience comes to see me, I'm afraid we're at ground zero; we've got to get to it. Because we're in the first booster phase of getting at the facts, and we've got to do it, that's all. And it doesn't matter who fails. You cannot have a protective cloak over the Democrats, for instance, forever. We've got to look at them and see what they are. But that means looking at them completely. That doesn't mean people saying, "Don't you think the President's doing a wonderful job?"--or, "The Republicans are blocking him in Congress." There's no time for rationalization. There isn't any time, that's the point. Q. How do you feel about the notion which is sometimes put forth, that there's a definite relationship between your Jewish background and your work? A. That's nonsense. I don't have any kindship a Jewish background. But I will say this: When Freud was ostracized by the medical society in Vienna, he then was offered the forum of B'nai Brith. They said, "We don't agree with anything you say, but anyone can speak here, because we're interested in free speech." He then wrote in a letter to a friend: "The role of the Jew is that of the opposition." So if the role of the Jew is to rock the boat, and to be inquisitive--intellectually curious, that is--fine. Classic role. But there's no urgency; in other words, there's no message I got from this generation. This generation of Jews in America is taking a sabbatical. They're taking twenty years off because they produced--because they saw it, they didn't produce it--because they were witness to a generation, all the people that were active in left-wing politics, and all the people who compensated for being oppressed by over-intellectualizing in the arts, all the English professors they developed, and all the people who generally contributed to the intellectual life of this country. This generation is making up for it by assimilating and becoming nothing. You know, vanilla ice cream. What I'm trying to say is, if I'm Jewish, then they're a fraud; and if they're Jewish, I don't want to be that. Q. Do you consider yourself Jewish? A. No! I belong to me. And that's enough. I don't consider myself anything. And I'm having a tough time finding any kinship. You know, you get along with people who have ideas, that's all. Q. You had a gag in your performance last night about the Supreme Court's prayer decision. Now, to me, it seemed that I couldn't heard Bob Hope saying that; it didn't seem to have any honest point of view. A. First of all, there's seven records of mine out now, that have hours nad hours of material with a point of view that you might find honest, but you didn't isolate that' I think that may be a key to your thinking. But you isolated this one joke about the Supreme Court, which I'll be happy to discuss with you. The so-called Bob Hope form--it's true, you know, I'm working within theatricality, forms of theatricality attention, which I do for an hour without dancing or singing or doing imitations or compromising my point of view. Now, I think that to become more skillful and say things economically--as economically as a cartoonist in panels--I think is an accolade. To free associate and waste time and eventually come up with some ore, bu come up with a lot of garbage along the way, and eventually bore people, is something you obviously admire. I don't admire it, and I won't sit through it. Not because I don't think enough of hte performer, but I think too much of myself. I have something else to do with my time. I just want to make that clear. And we can apply that to a few people. But now, the Supreme Court. The joke, I think, goes: that "all this depression is coming in on me and I don't know what to do with it, and I say to myself, 'If I didn't have God, I don't know what I'd do'--and then the Supreme Court made this ruling." Well, I think obviously, any guy that's worries about fallout, lung cancer, heart disease, not getting along with women, and his career, and the fact that we don't have a two-party system any more--who can rationalize with "If I didn't have God"--is obviously a Norman Vincent Peale disciple. That's where the joke lies. His philosophy is only vulnerable by a bigger cliche. So a guy who would be dumb enough to have that philosophy would then misinterpret the Supreme Court ruling. I've already fought about the Supreme Court ruling on the Tonight show; I took a half-hour of NBC's time to go into that. But that works for me int hat arena--that's my interpretation of the joke--but the area of your interpretation is sacred to you' you have that right as a member of the audience, to do anything you want to with that joke. Q. Which includes the right to ask a question in the role of the devil's advocate. I knew what you did on the Tonight show--but, you know. I had to ask it in the context of your night club performance-- A. All right, but I just want you to know that the values are reasonably constant. And the people that challenge that Supreme Court ruling don't konw what it's about. But that's a historic rule. Q. But I was thinking in terms of--you know, if someone in the night club audience were to hear that joke, he would come away not knowing: Is Sahl in favor of the Supreme Court decision or not? A. Yeah, but you see, that's a fine line, because if you start in with the people in the audience--the first thing I used to hear in San Francisco ten years ago was, "Nobody wants to hear that"; then the next thing was, "Well, only intellectuals want to hear it"; then after that it was, "They don't want to hear it in the East"; then, "They don't want to hear it on TV." You know, you take this to a point where you say, "People can misinterpret it," so eventually my point of view is suspect if I'm not elected President. There's really no end to it. The very fact that I can say it--it's almost miraculous that I've developed a form--in other words, it's this form that triggers a release that makes the point, makes it economically, and covers all that ground. That's not a lecture, you know, with 12-year old morality. That's a distilled point of view, that people subsidize. It's the healthiest thing in the world. For them. And for me. Largely for them; it's healthier for them. Q. Do you get any sense of futility in the whole milieu of the night club? The idea of it is healthy, but in terms of its actual effect, do you get any sense of frustration? A. What, in night clubs? Well, there are certain occupational hazards, but there's great freedom, because there's nobody pompous there, like an editor in a publication, or a director in a theatre group, or an advertising executive in broadcasting--there's no one who has delusions of "helping" you. You have complete freedom. That means you can edit. But it doesn't mean you go unedited--that's a very important point--you edit, and you have to be the final arbiter. And that helps you become a responsible adult--which should be the aim of all of us. It's help me. I think there are frustrations in the audience, because when I hit gold, when I hit a vein, I don't like to talk to 300 people--I'd like to be talking to three million--but the reason I talk to thirty million on television is because I built on the night clubs. That's a lobbying point. That's a lobby to influence the congress, the ultimate congress, which is the American public--once you can get to them via mass media. That's how you do it. You've got the club--you can stand on that rock and scream--otherwise you couldn't talk at all. That's why I chose night clubs. Q. Then you believe it snowballs into having some influence? A. It always does. You know, it brought me into television; it brought me into being, in other words, a major voice. When a guy like Gehman or anybody else says "He goes with the strength," what put me alongside the President? What put me in his company? What introduced him to me? I mean, how do you explain the fact--everybody in the United States knows me, and I'm not on television or in pictures. What put me on the cover of Time? Because I had an audience. The audience made me a hero. Q. Well, I'm not talking about an influence on your meteoric rise. I'm talking about your influence on the audience's thinking. A. Well, don't you think the fact that every--you don't see too many guys getting up with a Borscht Belt approach now; they all get up and try to look like they're thinking, even though they're not equipped; even though they're untalented in that area, they try to imitate that stand. Now obviously in that area, they try to imitate that stand. Now obviously I have made that acceptable. That's an acceptable way in be, or I wouldn';t been dismissed by the audience years ago. Q. I'm talking about your ideas, in terms of influencing the audience to the extent of perhaps changing their viewpoint. A. There's nobody who comes away from the show with a feelihng of apathy. I don't care when I reinfornce their prejudice or I onvert them to my point of view--the point is they feel something. And the mission of theate is to wake people up. math them feel something. And that's residual feeling on the part of everyone that's seen the show, whether they're terrified, or whether they laugh, or whether they say "Yes, that's right, I wish I'd said that, that quick," or "Hang 'im!" They feel something. They always have. There's an urgency about it. Q. You were at Time magzine's cover-personalities party. What didn't Time tell in their story about it? A. Well, I saw the pictures in there showing that Casey Stengel was there, and Hedda Hopper, but that isn't what I was impressed with at the party. I mean I was impressed by the fact that hundreds of people who work for Time magazine were at the party, and there were a lot of generals and admrals and a lot of political figures who shape our destiny--and that's what impressed me. Bette Davis said, "I'm glad the wrong peopel aren't here, like Krushchev and Castro." And I had to remind her that perhaps it wasn't Mr. Luce's option that they not come; maybe it was theirs. You know, that kind of thing--the emphasis on who was important at the party, because everybody was there. Nobody turns Time magazine down. I was handled very efficiently. It was realy like the proverbial well-oiled machine. The children of some of the people who work for Time magazine are more conservatives than their parents are politically, which scared me to death. Q. Children of what age? A. Twenty-three, twenty-two. Terrible. Uninformed conservatism. Gee, that was depressing. And also I noticed that President was absent, and the Attorney General; they only come in election years, I gather. But the President sent a wire for Mr. Luce to read. They gave me the red-carpet treatment. I had a pretty good time. But everwhere I went I was sort of harassed by an audience of people who wanted to know what my opinions about everything were; this is a great era for that. Derivative opinion. They want to know-- Tell me what I should think about such-and-such--and they they argue with you. They compare their cliches with your cliches. Q. I assume Kennedy and the Attorney General got invited-- A. Yeah, they were invited. They couldn't make it. Q. Did Castro and Krushchev get invited? A. I wonder! That's what we don't know. Everybody who was on the cover was invited. Che Gueverra was on the cover--he wasn't there--couldn't get into country. Oh, I'll tell you what happened. We were assigned two peopel to a car, and I rode with Dr. Jose Miro Cardona--it was Time's idea of a joke--and the he kept looking for explosives under the hood. Then when we were making our travel arrangements, Ed Magnuson of Time said, "I'll get you to the airport on time, Mr. Sahl, I promise you"--and I looked at Cardona, and I said, "Does that word hold an awful lot for you these days?" So he got the interpretation and laughed a little, and his interpreter said, "Every time we start with our travel accommodations, we don't have to ask, because people ask us when we're going to leave the country." Those were a few of the sidelights that I think were a lot more interesting than what hte magazine reported. It was ten times as colorful as what they reported, because the world was there. And if that's the power elite, look out! Q. Something should've been done with a captive audience like that--I don't know what, but-- A. Well, I did with the ones I could talk to, but the show was arranged. The only one who was on the show was Bob Hope. I tried to appear on the show, and they said it was already arranged. Bob Hope spoke, and Paul Tillich and Mr. Luce. That was it. I said a lot of things, you know, like "Life begins at forty"--and I was going to give Mr. Luce a present of a permanent binder for his copies of Show Business Illustrated and U.S.A-1. U.S.A.-1, Russia-3. Q. I want to get intot he liberal magazines-- A. Yeah, well, the New republic is a real gung ho magazine, they have these things about "The President got up today!" Three cheers. The Nation is a little bit better. They're all humorless. The Reporter is depressing. It's like cold war hysteria. Ad i fyou put an armband on a guy that says Democrat instead of Republican, that's the only difference it is. There's no spectrum of opinion there. For instance, The Reporter is concerned with things like, "How did the miners' election go when they attempted to have an open shop in the Ruhr?" Or, "Is Upper Volta going to extend the vote to women?" I mean who the hell cares? They skip the issues that are going to determine whether we are incinerated or not. And they're humorless--they're heavy-handed--and they're not curious enough, for one thing, the so-called liberal publications. Now, what else do we have? There's the Realist, which also operates in that area. There's I.F. Stone, with the newsweekly which says a little bit about Cuba, because we don't get any information... although in this country, overall, we're suffering from too much information. But it's all junk. You're suffocating from it. Because all this gung ho--see, the liberals are afraid to give the Republicans a hole in the breach, so they don't look at the Democratic Party. It's like the girl who said to me, "I'm a delegate to the Massachusetts convention." I said, "Do you believe in Ted Kennedy?" "No." "You gonna vote for him?" "Yes, because I'm a good Party girl." I said, "Well, maybe a good Party girl is being dissenting." Maybe you're a good American if you dissent. They used to in this country. Those magazines are a joke. They have no right to exist. They keey saying, "The President's trying." The Nation's a little bit better than the New Republic--that's hopeless. But The Reporter--and Max Ascoli with those editorials up front. It's that same thing, you know; they just take these newspaper editorials and grind them down--it's as if you had a fare box from an old streetcard and you put in Republican newspaper editorials and then you distilled them and put pepper on them, and they're okay. They're awful. It's fragmented anyway, their thinking, but with a few exceptions they're generally in favor of the administration. The administration with few exceptions is generally in agreement with the Republicans. The Republicans wiht a few exceptions are generally anti-Communist. I mean the whole thing is ugh! Q. There's an article in Harper's by Adlai Stevenson on patriotism; I forget whether he's for or against it. A. Listen, I went to a UN meeting in Los Angeles last month--the American Association of the United Nations--they opened up the meeting, and the first thing they do is a flag salute. We're fighting sovereign states, right? And they said "One nation under God," and a lot of people in the audience don't believe it should be done that way, but, you know, that's not their night at ACLU, it's their night at the UN association. Oh, liberals are impossible. They're terrible. The worst thing about Stevenson were his supporters, as the old saying went--and was true. Q. All right, then there's the National Review-- A. Well, of course, the National Review--it looks like a comic book. It looks like a funny book, and it doesn't live up to that. Buckley, of course, he got that job of being head of the conservatives by default. He reminds me of Goldwater in this sense: They're not stable conservatives. Those guys are a joke. If I were a conservative, I think I'd be in as much trouble as if I were a liberal in this country, because you really need a friend, and you need a leader, desperately. Barry Goldwater and Buckley remind me of a guy who comes to town and becomes a disc jockey--comes to a town and becomes a disc jockey--comes to a town like Cincinnati, plays jazz all night, sponsors concerts-the college kids all follow him, you see. "Boy, this guy's really something." And the reason he's playing jazz is because he checked out the pop and rock and roll markets and found out they were taken. That's as close as I can come. Q. You just said, "if I were a liberal." Does that mean you're not? A. Oh, boy. Listen, I'm so much farther on than that. Q: Do you consider yourself a radical? A. I don't know. Radical as compared to what? And liberal as compared to what? Q. Do you consider yourself anti-label? A. Well, I don't want that to become a basic industry at the wrong time. You try to be your own man and judge it issue for issue. You know, put the issues up against themselves, so to speak, as opposed to having your own fluoroscope with the liberal anatomy and putting things against that. Because I can adapt in order to breathe, but there are some things that you just cannot adapt to. Well, it's impossible; I mean they're just not patterns of survival. How can you be a liberal in our society? First of all, the liberals nowadays--all they do is work on emotional causes. They'll freedom ride, but they won't give $10 to help a man like Estes Kefauver fight the pharmaceutical houses. They'll march for Caryl Chessman, but they won't go up to San Quentin when a homosexual who killed his grandmother with an ax is being executed. Because it doesn't appeal to them. It's unfortunate. You've got to have a whole emotional--you couldn't sell a play to the liberals unless there was a strong love story--it's like that. Q. You and Dick Gregory both talk about the evils of segregation and, implicitly, the justice of integration--but he's had more than an abstract role in the conflict. How come you seem to limit your passion to your function as an entertainer? A. I'm really sorry, you know, that I brought politics into the theatre when I realize that the real virtue in life is to take the theatre into politics. I've never done that. You also noticed I wasn't at either one of the conventions marching around with any of the nominees. I don't do that with the other theatrical people. I like to use the theatre for what it's meant--it's an arena of ideas. First of all, I've been talking on an international scale about segregation, that's true. I was doing it a few years before anybody else--when people were saying "It isn't feasible" and "It can't be done." I didn't hear anybody doing it. It was a pretty non-competitive area. I felt that I could do it with effectiveness if I was not a Negro, to a disarmed audience. It's as if you don't jave am ax to grind. You can sneak up on them. It's much the same as when I talkeda lot about the Hollywood Ten being blacklisted. I felt I could be more effective when I was not a victim of a blacklist. I could be a spokesman for them because I was not tainted in the eyes of the audience, so to speak. Now, as far as his taking part in demonstrations, that's up to him. I haven't seen that there's been a great deal of effect by his taking part in those demonstrations. And also, there's a reversal of theory, because a few years ago, he was saying, "I don't want to be segregated--'You're just a Negro'--I'm an individual, too, not just a member of a group." Now he says, "I might be an inidividual, but I'm a Negro first." there's been a reversal there, of his logic. In other words, I don't ever want to be a member of a group. I can't find one anyway, so that decision's a little late in coming. You know, it's lagging. Q. I think that's why you always ask if there are any groups you haven't offended' maybe you'll find one. A. Yeah, well, it ain't happened yet, in ten years. But, see, entertainers who don't say anything--they don't get into areas of controversy, they make meaningless motion pictures and all--yeah, they go to demonstrations; they have to say what they think. I say what I think--in other words, my morality is implicit in my work. There's no more I can do. People know pretty much what I do. It reminds me very much of entertainers who run to be on Open End with Susskind because they can't express themselves doing a play written by a homosexual eights times a week. Well, I couldn't either if I was doing that. But life is a series of choices. And I chose what I was going to be. And I didn't come on as the first Negro comedian. And I didn't ask for anybody's tolerance. I took my chances. Even when people said a Jew and a Communist would be the only ones who would be a "******-lover"--I heard that many times--we're all familiar with that cliche. I did it then. I did it and I took my chances with it, and I won with it. I don't run, as I say, to a program like Susskind's because I can express myself every night. Nobody has to say to me, "What do you really think?" At least I'm brave enough to say it on the stage: That's what I think. And I'm not down there--you know, it's nice to go down there in groups of 5,000 and thumb your nose at Southern Cracker cops. What about getting up at a meeting at NBC when you don't have an audience to cheer you on and telling a Southern sponsor you want a Negro trio to accompany a white girl on a television show. Try that some time.


Part 2 of 2
(continued... part 2 of 2) Q. Have you don it, or is that hypothetical? A. No, it's not hypothetical. I've done it, and more than once. And I've made it stick. It's not hte heroism of doing it, it's having it come off. It's getting the show on the air. That's your verification. But this stuff of marching down 10,000 strong--you know, the Jews didn't have that privilege in this country; they had to march alone--one guy had the ability, and he was resented, but he graduated from medical school. It wasn't en masse. I'm afraid I wil never have a group. My people are never going to be in power, whoever they may be. Q. You used the phrase, "There's no more I can do." A. Than give the best you can theatrically. You know, I'm in the theatre. Q. All right, but where does the responsibility end? You were invited to give some advice to some people from SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) the other week--and you turned down the invitation-- A. Oh, yeah--by two Jewish liberal busybodies, who were rude to me on the phone. And, with one hand, to say, "You're a potent force, you can help us." and with the other, to attempt to discredit me? Well, I can't live boht ways. Q. Discredit you in what way? A. You don't know that whole story. They called me up on the phone, and tehy were rude to me, and they were threatening to me, and they gave me a lot of trouble. And when I tried to accomodate them and set up a time for the meeting, they suddenly dropped into a Negro dialect, these two Jewish busybodies, and said, "Like, man, if you're going to cop out"--and, you know, I'm not interested in withdrawing from society by limiting my vocabulary to 31 words. There was a time when people spoke Yiddish because being Jewish was the sophisticated thing to be. Now being Negro is the sophisticated thing to do. Well, I'm not that flexible. I'm still attempting the old things. I was insulted. Now if they want to ask fro something, they're gonig to have to find a way to reach me, and meet me when I can. I told them I would try to set up a meeting. When I tried to attempt a time that was convenient for both groups, they then gave me all that static. You konw, I went to those meetings before these groups were interested. I went to a lot of meetings, and I heard a lot of people talk, and I had areas of concern. The comittment didn't start last year because "It's time" according to some irresponsible so-called leaders. It was time a long time ago. Q. I'm not questioning the commitment for one second. The real question is--you know, accepting you rpremise o the Jewish busybodism of the two who invited you-- A. You mean it defeated the area? Well, I think that the area becomes impotent because they're involved. I don't think you can do anything. You'd have to go directly. If you want to work wiith SNCC, you go direct to SNCC. If you have to go to those people, you never get anything done anyway. Because I don't know who my people are, but they sure ain't. I will not ride an emotional freedom train. That's not my idea. In other words, for them, to bear their guilt, to show their wounds, feeds their neruoses. I don't know if it helps the Negro; I don't (know) if it educates a Southerner; and I know damn well it's not the most effective way of doing things. Q. You're not talking SNCC, are you? A. No, I'm talking about those people that called me. Q. But SNCC asked them to call you. A. Yeah, well, they must have run into the breach and said, "We know him." But they insulted me and drove me off the phone. I was trying to effect a time that was convenient for all people concerned. They call me at 11:15 an say, "Come over here now"--people who haven't seen me in a year-and-a-half. And byt he way, of the two who called me, one of them is someone who kept saying to me, "No one will ever understand what you say"--but she's willing to exploit me, for personal heroism, so that she can be a busybody. Busybodies never change the world. Intuitive geniuses do. I'm doing it down there on my own time, and I'm saying what I think, not because "It's time"--it's always time. And if it becomes an unpopular cause, I'll still say it. And I did. Under threat of Senator McCarthy. Q. I'm just a reporter, sir. A. Yes, yes. They've given you false facts. Q. I didn't present you wiht any facts except what actually happened. A. If they're SNCC leaders, then I don't want SNCC. Q. They're not SNCC leaders. Don't you think you shouldn't ignored their rudeness in order to give whatever advice you could to the SNCC people? A. I couldn't get to the SNCC people. They called me up and they said, "You've gotta come over here right away." The first insult is, I'm in the theatre, and you recognize where I work. I said, "Well, I've got a show." "We'll pick you up right after it." I said, "I've got a date. Now I'll try to shift the date around. Call me when the show is over." "Oh, well, like, man, if you're gonna cop out, like." Well, again--I'm not that much in awe of the Negro. I don't have to talk like that. I did that already, when I was 12. They're never going to get anything done by calling a guy and insulting him and questioning his integrity and yelling at him. What can you do besides hang up? I'm not interested in proving myself to them. I just want to make it clear that I didn't reject the CNSS leaders. I probably have a record of doing more benefits and more boat-rocking in the last ten years--it's like the people who come up to me now and say, "How can you say that about our President?" I was flying around the United States with him! Or they'll say to me, "Are you acquainted with Adlai Stevenson?" I appeared on the same platform with Stevenson from New York to California 35 times. These people are really so uninformed that they become a burden. I don't take the trouble to explain this, but I'm bored with it. You know, it's almost paralytic. Q. Is it true that you've written gags for Kennedy? A. Yeah, it's true. I gave a lot of stuff to the President. And I haven't laid on that--in other words, I haven't made a big publiciity gambit out of it, as has Mr. Gregory by being photographed walking around down South. My liberalism can just be left up to the audience. They can decide for themselves. But the President is a friend of mine, and I gave him a lot of stuff. Period. I also had met Nixon consequently, and had a drink with him, and had quite an interest talk with him. But that's not a commitment. For all people know, I did that as a personal favor. But everybody assumes everything. It shows their ignorance. Not my position: their ignorance. Q. It wasn't in a professional capacity, then? A. You mean was I hired? No, I wasn't hired. there are those who began to march with Kennedy when he was a winner. I knew him when he was a person who had an ambition, I knew him personally--he was a personal friend of mine--and I did that. I was not engaged, I mean I was not hired for money. I'm not very big on going to inaugurals and parties and running around with that group. I don't know anything about them. I've got my own thing going. The minute I start with them, then I'm not with me any more. So I don't participate in much of that. Q. How would you compare the public images of Jackie Kennedy and Elizabeth Taylor? A. I used to use a gag in the act, where I said that Mrs. Kennedy is in all these movie magazines, and I couldn't understand it; then a Democratic girl gets impatient with me and she says, "What do you want her to do?" And I said, "Well, I thought that she might relieve Mrs. Roosevelt, who's 77 and too old to be driving tractors to Havana. Of course, Mrs. Roosevelt has passed on since then, but I do think that the first lady has a responsibility to be interested in somebody who's poor. I don't see that in this group. Q. I don't think her job is to be--I don't think women should be downgraded to be nothing but fashion models. And I don't mean to invade her privacy, but she has a public image, which seems to cultivate herself, or this administration does. She's very bright--I've met her, and she's very bright--and she's capable, but the concept of having Pablo Casals and all these people who are not about to rock the boat, and have it pass for culture, I think is misleading. I'm acquainted with Elizabeth Taylor too, but I don't see any similarity. They're both on those magazines. Q. How about the public images of Joseph Mitchell and Jimmy Hoffa? A. Joseph Mitchell. Oh, the city manager of Newburgh who went to the John Birch Society? Yeah, well, he was lasisez faire, Mitchell. This is the first time he's gone to the Birch Society, but he must have been in absentee membership for a long time. He was certainly living up to their philosophy. He was against unwed mothers, wasn't he, and welfare checks. He's for everybody pitching in. We have leaders and we have followers. That would be his public image. And Hoffa represents crime. You know, a casting director in a television show would say that Hoffa's too on the nose. That's possibly why the government picked him as The Victim. He sums up all organized crime. He's unpopular with the government, but very popular with his constituents--which is interesting. You can say the same thing about the President: he's unpopular with the Communists, with the Eastern world, but he's popular with his constituents--or something, I don't know. Anyway, the Hoffa thing is terrible. I think it's dangerous. I think that the harrassment of him--to single out one individual and to put the resources of the United States government to work--is (1) expensive; (2) it's futile; and (3) it's against the American grain. The hearings of the Senate subcommittee when Bobby Kennedy was an attorney were harassment--they were in the best McCarthyite tradition. And now they're carrying it on. We are at a time, as I've often said on stage, where free speech is very much in doubt in this country, the individual is sliding down the drain, and it's being tested by a couple of people, like Hoffa, Lenny Bruce--a couple of people. There's a conspiracy against--well, you know: don't rock the boat. Q. I was told by a responsible civil rights leader--and they may not follow through on this--but they're thinking of approaching Jimmy Hoffa to have his Teamsters Union boycott deliveries to any of these Southern communities which permit and condone and encourage racial violence. A. Well, I don't condone that, any more than I like an Interstate Commerce clause interpreted to hang civil rights on. They either stand on their own, or they should be disregarded completely. That's hypocrisy. It also won't stand up legally. If the Solicitor General has to go before the Supreme Court and equate a minority's rights with the Mann Act, then you're in a lot of trouble. That's a wrong interpretation of the law... just like that housing bill--remember Adam Clayton Powell wanted the thing about segregated housing, that they wouldn't get a federal grant in aid? That's extortion. That's not democracy, that's exortion. And, as I say, this whole oncept, this whole headlong surge toward liberation with no skills--you're going to have a lot of people turned loose who are equal--it's like you've got free elections in Africa. You remember when Ellender said that--that people weren't equipped to vote--he happens to be right. Now a lot of liberals wouldn't like to hear that, but Ellender's bigotry is better founded than their liberalism. And if they want to compete with him, then they should cultivate liberalism, not just go with emotionally what they feel the polarity. You've got to be a full-time working individual, with a head on your shoulders; not a thumping heart coming through your rib cage. Q. You mentioned Dick Gregory and publicity. I don't know whether he did it for publicity or not, but--ine the same way that your reaching people is effective--maybe the publicity that accompanied his being down South, rather than an unknown Negro, brough the situation to puhlic attention. Now, isn't that good? A. Anything that contributes is good. No matter what the motivation, if it is productive it's good. It doesn't seem to be productive. He stood on the street corner, he was ignored, and he was finally jailed. I don't know. I don't think that's good. I don't think Martin Luther King picked up in overalls, looking like he had prepared to go to jail, is good. I don't think encouragement anarchy is good. I don't think a power struggle just before the top is loosened on the pickle jar, so that someone can get the credit for doing all of the turning, is good. Everybody wants to be around to raise the champ's hand, because the other guy is reeling. The fact that anything can happen via violence does not bode well for the country. You can't march on Washington. There's no such thing. I'm not in favor of that. Q. You know who else said that? Governor Barnett. Isn't it funny to be in the same camp with him? A. That often happens. You know, Henry Wallace was in the same camp with Bob Taft about the Korean war, but he was the head of the Progressive Party. That's all right, there again you've got to go issue by issue. People will just have to make up their minds whether I'm a segregationalist or not. I don't think I have a record as one. Q. Of course, the context that Barnett said this was a charge that the drive for civil rights legislation and street demonstrations are a part of the Communist conspiracy to conquer the nation from within. A. Well, last night in a drug store a guy asked me if I didn't think that Communists were behind the NAACP, and I said, "If the Communists were behind it, it might be a little better organized--there wouldn't be so many groups." Because I think they're impotent by the fact that there's such a fragmented leadership, Q. But the March on Washington is a joining-together of all these groups-- A. When I say you can't march, this is what I'm getting at: Demonstrations are fine to let the Congress know that they're not insulated and this is public opinion--put it in front of them, that's fine. But I want to know how you can control that. I like hostility at times, when it's justified by the situation, but if hostility can't be controlled it then becomes an instrument of terror, even to the person who possesses it, because you cannot control it. It may end in a lot of blood, because what is going to happen eventually--if somebody gets out of line, you will have to call in the law, because the Negroes will represent outlaws in that situation, and then, when you call in the law--right is automatically on the side of those who are in uniform, and there's going to be blood in the streets, as the saying goes. I don't think that's getting anything accomplished You can't sit in on Congress. It's against the law. That's the way things are. And I'm talking about getting something done, not expressing the individual neuroses of those Jewish girls who belong to the NAACP. Let 'em take it out on their husbands, like they used to. Q. When you say that, aren't you going to give fodder to the right-wingers who say that the NAACP is run by Jewish girls? A. No, the Negroes say it. The Negroes have turned against the Jews. There's a lot of anti-Seminitism among Negroes. They have no sense of history. They've forgotten about the Communist Party--the Jews were in the middle of it and pulled the Negroes right along with them--they were always saying, "Help the Negro!" Remember the jokes, years ago, when they used to say, "We're having a party; I'll bring the liquor, you bring the Negroes." Remember those jokes? Well, the Negroes have forgotten that. They're now saying "The Jews didn't care." An awful lot of Jews did care--in the Furriers Union, and in demonstrations in Union Square in the 30's. But aside from that, I'm giving fodder to all the conservatives who subscribe to the Realist. You and that fodder. Boy. Q. Would you like to make any political prognostications about the 1964 elections? We assumethat Kennedy's going to run again-- A. Well, I hope he gives us an answer soon, because the tension's driving me crazy. But, if he runs, I think his brother, Robert, will run as Vice-President, and I will think that we are desensitized enough so that we will accept it. No one will say anything. The rationale will be that Lyndon Johnson has to go back to the Senate to get Kennedy's program through. That way, if they say it fast enough, no one will ask what his program is. I've now suggested, as you know, that his program be called "Old Miss." Anyway, he'll say that Lyndon Johnson will have more power in the Senate, and they don't need him to whip the South any more, they can desert the South because there are more Negroes voting that there are Souther governors--that's the hard fact of the matter. The Republicans, I believe, will run Rockefeller and Romney. And you know what else I think? I think Rockefeller will be elected. I think the that the country will have a big deficit by then; I think that economically we'll be in the trouble. I think the people have no sense of loyalty to an President--andwe've got the most popular President ever now. It doesn't matter. if they're not making any money.... It's been defined as an economy, not as a country, so they'll scream and yell, and they'll say they want a change. And Rockefeller will emphasize Latin America and fiduciary integrity--he's very well-schooled there--and he could win. And if he should lose, the size of the Republican vote will scare you. It will be shattering. Now the President has certain alternatives. He can have a military crisis, which will help defense spending. In other words, he can always be aggressive. You can't be aggressive about the economy, but you can be aggressive in foreign policy. I don't know how long they can keep using that little island down there as their whole cause. I think the people will eventually become bored with it, because it's a vicarious enemy as it is. Nobody knows what's going on down there. They've never been there, they don't know why they hate them. They say it's because they don't have free elections, and that so many people are leaving the islands. Castro himself said on ABC television recently that if you judge a country by how many people leave it, Puerto Rico's the worst country int he world; only Adam Clayton Powell goes there. Anyway, I think that's what's going to happen. And by the way, I want to say that this is not wish-fulfillment--you're too bright for that, but most people say to me, "What do you think is gonna happen?"--then when I answer them, they argue as if I have advocated it. I didn't mean it as an advocacy. That was just a kind of survey, because if you'll think about it, I really have no ax to grind. I'm in the theatre, for better or for worse, in one form or another, for hte rest of my life. I'm committed there. I'm not interested in politics. I'm not like Ronald Reagan, or somebody. I don't want to graduate to politics. I'm not interested in that area--I mean in participation there--it's just the way I see it now, the way it falls now. It may change in a year, but it's going to change for the better for Rockefeller. And the Republicans will never run a Republican, any more than the Democrats will run a Democrat. That's all over in America. Incidentally, don't you find it quite interesting, as you watch me work, that I mention Eisenhower and there's a complete blank--the most popular man we ever had? That really makes you wonder about Edward P. Morgan's phrase that nothing is as fickle as public favor. Now, if he is a ridiculous figure, as many in the audience say--in other words, if he's a meaningless figure in American history--then I want a refund on the eight years that my destiny was in the palm of his hand. And if he's a meaningful figure, I want him to be honored, I don't want him ignored. There's a bill due here somewhere. Q. They honor him in the Saturday Evening Post and Look magazine--he's an elder stateman now--you and him. A. Yeah, we belong to the University Club--it's at 54th and 5th Avenue--"What time does this train get to 55th street?" Q. There's a fantastic irony about what constitutes a scandal, as far as Rockefeller is concerned-- A. Oh, yeah--the fact that he got married is a scandal! You know, that really is peripheral vision of the mid-West. The Protestant ethic. He married her. What kind of a scandal would it be if he wasn't married? Q. Would you care to say a few words about the future of monogamy? A. Yes. It looks like it's falling in the Western world--just look at the divorce rate--it's definitely failing, due to the fact that everything is a metabolism, including a love affair. It goes a while, and then it's over. And most of the agony is because people will not accept that. The reason they won't accept it is that they have no been resourceful enough to think up an alternatve of loneliness terrifies them. They become impatient with the fact that they cannot sustain this for life. So they continue to get married--they continue to pretend--that's their adjustment to reality. Now, women are being liberated as a result. So they have an opoortunity to develop more as people. As they do this, long-range on the graph they're moving ahead and becoming human beings, like men are now; the only trouble is, in between ther's going to be some girls making the transition who are going to be bloodied. It's very similar to Leopoldville when the Belgians got out. It's a good thing overall, but an awful lot of people got punished in the meantime, because it's a rough transition. You live what? 65-75 years. Over a 200-year period, women are really going to emerge as people. But in between, there's a lot of peopl who are going to have miserable lives. Their heads are going to be bloodied in the battle, because they don't have skills, they've become dependent in all the wrong areas; because they're competitive when it comes to cocktail hour and having a big mouth, but they're not really competitive--they're hypocrites--they don't want to be girls, but they don't have the courage to be men. Now, monogamy. It looks like it's over, and it's a panic for all of us, because--I don't know--where do we go? Everybody keeps pursuing the dream, and you can spend your life doing that. You pursue it to such a degree that you don't believe in divorce. You get divorced and you don't believe in it. Think of that agony. Or you say to yourself, "Can you really love more than one person? God send me that one partner and I loused that up." You know, puritanical instinct. And yet you know that isn't true, because you've been in love with more than one chick, or you've been attracted to more than one, for different reasons; it happens. But women are the lost souls. This is even beyond Negroes. Women are the most lost--holy cow! Q. Do you realize what you've just said? The Realist is pursuing the dream! A. Well, I don't mean it as an insult to you. You may beat the rap, see. Q. How many one beat the rap? A. Well, you have to believe it or else insanity sets in. The trouble is, if you say no one can beat it, you're opening the door for the outlaws to exploit everybody. Because you might get lucky! Q. You're giving fodder to the polygamists. A. Polygamy. Very interesting. Q. But you don't think, with all hte criticism of Rockefeller's second marriage, that it's going to have any influence on the 1964 election? A. I think that's terribly wishful. If you can elect a 43-year-old Roman Catholic to the Presidency, whom no one has ever heard of after fourteen years in Congress, you can elect anybody. We have to face the fact, and the Democrats must face the fact, that those methods, if they are opportunistic methods--you know, the Kennedys kept saying, "Well they worked, didn't they, they worked!"--well, that means other people apply them. It reminds me of a guy who is washing dishes, and he has a hit rock'n'roll record, and he comes a star. You say, "You're not a star! He says, "I sold the records, didn't I?" Then next month someone else quits washing dishes and makes a record, and the guy can't understand it. He feels outraged. Rockefeller can apply all of those same methods, as the two parties grow closer together, as the village squire enters politics. Capital no longer fights politics; it dominates politics. The press is no longer the handmaiden of capital; it is capital. And telelvision is pre-empting the press. Those are the hallmarks of our era. Wealthy men don't go into their fathers' businesses any more' they go into politics. i don't know why they're so fascinated with it. But they always did kind of run the government, so it's niec to have them doing it openly. Q. It's interesting that you left Barry Goldwater completely out of your little survey-- A. He isn't going to run. They won't run him because they suspect he's a Republican, and they will never run a Republican. The thing is, he's got to sound off and look like a threat, so that they will buy him off by letting him have a voice in the kingmaking. But they will never run him because he is too much of an extremist. He's just not logical. He's no more logical than William O. Douglas would be on the Democratic ticket. He's the most logical man they have, but he's the least logical for that very reason. Goldwater will not run. He would run even as Vice-President, but Rockefeller won't have him. It'll be Rockefeller and Romney, you watch. They'll have a middle-of-the-road ticket. Beat the Democrats at their own game. In fact, recruit Democrats. Because what is a Democrat? What does that mean now? You have to compromise to be a Democrat, so you might as well--you can be a Republican at hte same time, you don't have to cross the road. It's two stores on one side of the street. Q. But Goldwater's Department Store isn't one of them. A. Minimum wage does not apply--it's not interstate commerce. Q. It's funny--in connection with the possible candidacy of Goldwater, you make this reference on stage to his being a Major-General in the Reserves, and the audience seems not to have been aware of hte fact-- A. See, that's the trouble, Paul, sometimes when you work you have to--you can't assume that they know--you've got to set them up. You've got to set them up and still make them feel smart; not take their dignity away. So you've got to say, "Well, you're all aware that Goldwater's a Major-General in the Reserves," and act as if you admire them--and then... Q. An old Communist technique--"As you all know"-- A. That's from Marcist dialectics, that thing about--one guy applauds, and you say, "You can be a rallying point for collective action." Holey moley! Anyway, Goldwater is a Major-General in the Reserves, and Kennedy could always call him to active service. He's not above it. Q. I saw you use, in two separate shows, the same line; one time it got a good laugh, the other it got no laugh at all...The line has to do with the newspaper report that not since Hitler had the Germans cheered anyoen as much as Kennedy when he spoke there recently... but then the following line, is the one I'm talking about. A. Oh: "Give my regardsto your Dad." Well, there are several ways to do it: "Dad sends his best." Then you start thinking about Hitler being in Argentina. See, when I work, I feel a cadence, just like you play, when you blow; I feel a certain cadence, and I feel it coming. I feel rhythms--that's why the jokes sometimes look premeditated, and they seem Bob Hope-ish, as you pointed out--you feel a cadence and you find it as you go. But I become impatient with it and want to start with something else, because every word I do is improvised. I don't rehearse anything. I start it on the stage. I never stress that word, improvise; it's become distasteful to me because it's been dissipated by people who don't. People say, "We improvise! We improvise!" Well, I have to. I've found no other way out. That's the easiest way. I am also pro-intellectual, and I find that anti-intellectual persons, who are not interested in discipline, who dig anarchy, use that as a facade. They say, "Well, I wanna be free." Which means, for chaos. They also use splintered reasoning and call it free association. That's not free; that's very limited association. It's all in the presenting of it. As I'm going, I open a door and I see six streets, and on each of the six streets there's twelve doors, and each twelve doors there's twelve streets--and it's endless, what you're going to go with. You just find it from night to night, and it starts to build up. It's like Joseph Conrad: When you find out what life is about, it's over. Q. I wish you could draw an exact bar graph depicting this, but just as a matter offhand speculation, to what extent has there been an increase of what you report on strage now as opposed to what you comment? I see you get a lot of laughs on just straight reporting, without any comment. A. Information, yeah. One of the hallmarks of this era is that comedians, whether it was Bob Hope or me, by exaggeration we could get a laugh. Bob Hope went, for instance, to a paraplegic center of veterans--he could tell about the guys who were very ambidextrous with the wheelchairs and that they get speeding tickets, and so forth--and the guys used to laugh, the paraplegics. Now he had used exaggeration. I used to do the same thing. If the President said something about a policy, I would extend his logic to expose the innate absurditiy of it. Well, exaggeration is no longer available, because we live in such an incredible era that I read the paper to them and they break up; whereas when I analyze it for them with all my humorous talons exposed, they often don't laugh at all. Because what is taking place, is insane! Yeah, that's a great point you just brought up. I forgot that. What's taking place is insane. An advertising man once said to me--I said I wanted to do a news show on television, and he said to me, "Well, what if you run out of news?" Today, if you were doing that show, you could just run an ad in the paper and say tonight you talk about--and then you'd insert whatever had happened that day, and it's incredible enough. The whole thing in the South is incredible. All the things people say you can't do have been done. And nothing shocks people. I think there's a point at which they become deadened to any kind of pain or feeling. Guys are in orbit, and people are being slaughtered--and they just don't know any more, they can't comprehend. Q. I have the feeling that with all this that's going on--and maybe the best example of what I'm saying is what you mentinoed before, divorce--that with all the national and international tensions, in the end people are still hung up on their personal problems and their interpersonal relationships. A. I could only tell you what I've observed. The people that I konw in show business are very alert, and they're a little bit advanced; that is to say, the norm--the people watching television across the country--don't have financial access to a psychoanalyst to be advanced enough to pinpoint guilt upon yourself as opposed to yelling at somebody or saying to a kid, "Go to your room." Or punishing people. Punishment and reward. Punishing yourself as opposed to venting your wrath on others is an advanced theorum. So, the people I know do look at themselves more than they look out, but I don't know if that's evasion or not; I don't know if that's being advanced or if it's just evasion. I suspect that a lo of it is evasion. I know there are personal problems, but the only way you can measure personal problems is how you relate reality--not relate it to yourself, but how do you interpret it? Does it kill you, or do you look at it and ignore it, or do you try to do something about it, or whatever. Q. How do you feel about the press treatment you've received lately? A. Well, I really don't have much respect for spectators. There's a whole nation of spectators--and when I say a nation. I'm using it in the academic sense of the word--I'm talking about all those members of the press who don't have courage to carry a torch, but stand by and judge you in terms of the Decathelon on how you carry it and whether you carry it as well as you did. And I'm also talking about the resistance to change. Marlon Brando doesn't wear a leather jacket any more. "Why don't you wear a sweater any more?" "Why don't you go to coffee houses?" The fact is, all a man has is his integrity. You have to keep that nad your curiosity up high. Keep your state of mind protected, as Del Close says. I think that's what's important. But you've got this press. I haven't read an upbeat article about anybody in five years. Everything is negative, negative, negative. They wait for a giant to emerge and cast his shadow--and then they say, "You're standing in my light!" I'm not a political flash-in-the-pan. They have misinterpreted my semiphore completely; the sun got in their eyes. I am an entertainer, and a writer, and my influence will be felt as long as I want to move, even if I want to do a television series should that unhappy day ever come. Whatever happens to strike me, I'm a prism through which nature expresses herself. And they cannot accept that. They keep treating me like I'm a Senator and you better watch out, you're up for re-election. I've got a life-time appointment. To this empty bench. Q. Do you think that you may be nothing more than something to talk about at a cocktail party? I know you said before they go out feeling something...but-- A. No, no. You know, they've had ten years of this. People thought it was going to be like six months, then I had ten years, and soon I'll have twenty, and then I'll have thirty.... Q. There are a lot of cocktail parties. A. No, I'm afraid they get much too angry for that. You can tell by the people you hear from, whether it's Bertran Russell and Adlai Stevenson. You know that you're in the mainstream. Q. Have you also heard from your targets? A. You mean adversaries? Nothing. That's the amazing part of it. I've heard from a lot of dumb guys in the press who say, "You can't say that!" Andrew Tully--he's a syndicated columnist, and he wrote the C.I.A. book--got mad because when Newsweek said that the President likes to laugh at himself, I asked, "When is he going to extend that privilege to us?" So Tully said, "Does he expect people to keep laughing when they happen to be loyal?" He's another one of those Kennedy-worshippers. And this is not a criticism of Kennedy; it's them. Remember, it's the constituents who are weak; I'm not talking about him. If they dub him God, the weakness is that they need a god. It's not that he says "I'm God," You've got to remember that, whether it's Arthur Godfrey or Kennedy or Winchell or anybody. Guys like Tully confuse their stand with patriotism. If you knock Nixon, whom he didn't like, that's okay because he didn't like him and you're helping him. You're animating his fight. You're holding the stiletto--he puts his dagger in your hand. But if you say it about his idol, then it's patriotism suddenly. They're redefining the American symbol. You can always tell when you're right because if you do something which is in the American grain--it's in the tradition--it's always wrong at the time. Styles Bridges once looked at an English TV film called Dissent and he said that it was full of "beatniks" criticizing our government. And he named me, Normal Mailer, Arthur Miller, Robert Hutchins, Bertran Russell. I've been in very good company, and I'm please about that. Flattered, in fact. The Good Guys. Q. I feel as though we should end with some sort of Grand Summation--like: "Do you have a message?" A. Yes. You have to give the best you can. That's your number one concern. Not, does anybody want the best I have, what's the use of giving the best I have, there isn't any market for the best I have. You have to give the best you can. Everything else will follow as a byproduct. That's all. My old message used to be, "Is anybody listening?" Well, that's been answered many thousand times. They're obviously listening, so now you've got to give them the facts; you've got to get to the people. That's the virtue of night clubs. Get to that audience. Q. But is that the people? Isn't that analagous to saying, as you do on stage, that Robert Kennedy met with Dick Gregory and James Baldwin and Lena Horne--to find out what the average Negro thinks? A. But I haven't just been in the night clubs. Because, again, it went from there to television where we have 40 million people looking at the Sullivan show; it goes from there to motion pictures; and it goes from there to appearances before 2,000 people at the Waldorf, all of whom are editors and will influence everybody they write for. I mean how do you explain the fact that I can't go in and complete a meal in any restaurant in any city in the United States without being recognized and harassed--I don't mean complimented; harassed. Q. About you ideas? Or to get an autograph? A. No, it's provocation. It's always about ideas. Are you kidding? With actors--they don't represent an idea--they represent Success, whatever the hell that means. Success with whom? With yourslef, if you're lucky. Megalomania, that's all it can come to. Is it 9 o'clock? Great Scott! It's funny, the time ran away. Now I've got to go to that club--are you ready for that? More boredom in the night club. Q. Why, Mort, you old hypocrite. "You've got to get to the people!" I think I'll leave this on the tape. A. I cannot summon my passion on demand of a schedule of a night club seven nights a week, twice a night. That's why the show is not uniform. The only people that can summon their passion on demand are people like folksingers who sing about the labor struggle. "We'd like to introduce this song which is about the Negroes in prison, all of whom were framed...."



The UK comedy circuit is populated almost entirely by middle class progressives who vote Labour

A stand up comic is essentially an ego on legs that needs feeding with agreement and applause, like a monkey asking for a grape.. even if they present themselves as a challenging comedian with a fiercely nailing the truth posture you still need to attack the correct targets like the banks and the Tories, the police and Israel of course and UKIP double of course

And you can see them on any of these puerile TV shows with the two opposing panels of interchangeable comedy clones and some tiresome clever dick in the chair, there are so many of these dreary shows and they compete with each other to misrepresent and slander UKIP because they know they will get a laugh from their smug progressive audience... despite the fact 4 million decent honourable people voted for UKIP

It's a long established comic tradition to tell lies about people for laughs.... all Jews are mean, all black men are sexist, all Irish are thick and of course all UKIP are racist bigots





currently editing a post...
Bills Hicks was a chain-smoking gem. For the uninitiated, he was the guy on the tool album with the "reaaaaaaallll f'n high on drugs" quote.



currently editing a post...
Oh. Was I suppose to read the unrelenting wall of text I thought I would never get to the bottom of?



I've always depended on the kindness of strangers
Something non-political/social, but anyone who opens their mouth has a message... I don't know any comedians who don't talk about one or the other, and I'm not a fan of the Three Stoogies... Also, I don't necessarily agree with everything one guy says, but it's funny, and has some relevancy, I hope others laugh... or discuss, why a certain person is not funny, or if someone "steals" from others, etc... I'd be interested in knowing everyone's favorites -- that's the same way I found many great movies on here, because I take chances with a lot of movies watched here, some of my favorites... Just planting seeds, hope they take root one day

Mitch Hedberg
(compilation)



I've always depended on the kindness of strangers
Dick Gregory (hungry i in SF)


Dick Gregory - Shoveling The Snow
(very short - this is over 50 yrs old)




Dick Gregory (interview in 1962)




I've always depended on the kindness of strangers
On Hollywood blacklist:

"Every time the Russians threw an American in jail, WE put an American in jail to show the Russians they couldn't get away with it."

-Mort Sahl