Lizz Winstead discusses dumb politicians, upcoming projects
Minnesota native Lizz Winstead will be back for the holidays for what has become an annual homecoming show in which she puts her wry spin on the last year in American politics. The writer, comedian, and Daily Show creator spends all year performing topical material in an ever-changing lineup of current events, and these blowout shows--complete with helpful graphics and a few special guests--allow her to synthesize the material and try to make sense of it all.
City Pages caught up with Winstead as she was putting the final touches on the show to talk about the biggest losers and rare winners of 2011, her forthcoming book about growing up in Minnesota, and the one Republican she would nominate for president.
What's the trick to putting a show like this together and consolidating all the material?
The hardest thing is prioritizing the dipshittery from each person, hitting the top three from each one. It's kind of a review of my best jokes, but I build big graphics for my year-in-review shows. For me, it's really about how am I going to shuffle everything around. In my regular shows I prioritize things by the zeitgeist, what's breaking and what people are talking about now.
Last year when I talked to you, you were back in Minnesota working on your book. That's scheduled to come out next year, correct?
Yes, it's coming out in May! I'm really happy with it. I came back to Minnesota for six months to work on it because I have OCD basically and I just had to stop working and finish the book. A lot of the book is Minnesota centric and about growing up and coming of age in comedy while the music scene was growing in the '80s. It's called Lizz Free or Die. It'll be out May 10.
Did you enjoy the process of writing a book versus comedy to be performed?
I never really thought I would write a book, but I turned 50 this year and I guess when you turn 50 you have a book in you. The book itself isn't really topical, it's more personal essays. It's a very different mindset from topical jokes. I'm so used to writing things with immediacy to them, and if it bombs you just drop it and go on to something the next day. When you create this thing that's not going to change and everyone's going to judge it, it's very different.
It seems like your act, being so topical, wouldn't ever really be a set thing but more like a constant process.
Yes! Any goal you're achieving is secondary, it's about being in the process. I love process and ever-changing things, and what I really love the most is brainstorming and writing with other people, getting together in a group and coming up with the best possible idea. But with your life you can't really do that.
Do you have any favorite topics you think have been overlooked?
I think the labor movement stuff has been really cool. It hasn't entirely missed people's radar, but the way Wisconsin and Ohio came together to say fuck you was really great. The republicans putting Planned Parenthood and NPR and the EPA at the top of their list has been really interesting.
If you could vote for any Republican in the primary, who would it be?
One that's in it now or one that I made up?
I couldn't possibly vote for a Republican. Fundamentally, rewarding rich people so they create jobs they never create as part of a structure is not something I can get behind. Or someone who's anti-choice. John Huntsman seems like the most normal one, but if the other ones weren't in the race he'd be the psycho. We keep making these comparisons and it's nuts. The family values people are voting for Newt Gingrich?
What about one you made up?
If I could make one up, pick an existing republican that's not running? Um...wow...(long pause, laughs). My brother. He's the mayor of Bloomington. He's an independent/Republican, and he's a good guy who talks to people and tries to be good and rational and make his city better.
IF YOU GO:
A Year in Review: Bang the Dumb Slowly
December 31 at 7 and 9:30 p.m.
$28-$48; $68-$78 with buffet, music, and drink specials
Pepito's Parkway Theater
4814 Chicago Ave. S., Minneapolis
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