Lizz Winstead reflects on 2017, a year when #metoo became a rallying cry

Image courtesy event organizers

Image courtesy event organizers

Oh, it’s been a dreary year, make no mistake about it. Looking back on 2017, there sure has been a lot to be horrified about: Muslim bans, white nationalist tiki parties, corporate overlords wreaking havoc on everything.

Lizz Winstead in 2017: The Greatest Sh*t Show On Earth

The Cedar Cultural Center
$45-$55$45/$55; $65 VIP

Meanwhile, creeps like Harvey Weinstein have been getting their comeuppance, and even some Minnesota figures like Al Franken and Garrison Keillor succumbed to the #metoo wave.

Suffice it to say, there’s going to be a lot to talk about for Lizz Winstead’s annual year-end comedy show at the Cedar.

The Minnesota native is known for co-founding The Daily Show and Air America Radio. She also founded the nonprofit organization Lady Parts Justice, which uses humor and entertainment to take on sexism.

For many years her New Year's Eve review has been a must-see event, as Winstead riffs on the world’s insanity with her smart comedy and biting jokes. “So much of it is about tapping into the emotional roller coaster throughout the year as well as the stories that come into play from 2017,” she says.

Surprisingly, when the news is so bad it doesn’t make comedy any easier. “Every year has incrementally gotten more bizarre… it feels dire,” she says. “I love to use the show as a litmus test to show people that, ‘Hey you’re here, you have found your way into a seat at a comedy show about this year. If you laugh you haven’t given up hope and that’s good.’”

The hardest part about doing a year in review is deciding what to write, and what to keep. “By March of last year, I had 35 pages of material,” she says. “I’m literally living in a hoarder house of jokes.” In the past she used to talk chronologically about the year. Now there’s so much to touch on that Winstead is doing things differently. For example, talking about Trump’s cabinet as a Russian nesting doll of evil: “If we got rid of Trump… Pence would pop out, and then Paul Ryan would pop out, and then Orrin Hatch would pop out and then you’re like, “Okay. When does this get better? I don’t know. Let’s just see.”

So yeah, Trump will figure prominently in this year’s show. “Honestly the only thing I can’t blame Trump for at this point is announcing La La Land won best picture. That’s the only thing he didn’t fuck up,” Winstead says.

Also on the docket is the bad men who got taken down in the waves of the #metoo movement. “They separate us women and anyone that’s not on the power structure,” Winstead says. “They keep us separated for a reason, because once we start talking and sharing our stories we find power in that and numbers in that.”

Winstead says she feels sad by how many women have been erased because of harassment they have faced, but she also feels inspired and motivated. “I find it’s super interesting when people are like, ‘There’s McCarthyism happening.’ It’s like, 'No, actually, somebody just uncorked the bottle and shit is happening.'”

Harassment happens in the comedy industry, just like any industry, Winstead says, but there’s also historically been a fear of women comics talking about their experiences as women. “When I started out doing comedy, if you were a woman, you were rewarded if you didn’t talk about your experiences as a woman,” she says. “The men bookers, the other guy comics, they’d be like, ‘Oh I like that comic. She doesn’t talk about her period or bloating or men.’ You were rewarded for erasing the lens through which you see the world.”

Winstead sees hope because women are dominating comedy right now. “When you see Broad City and you see Issa Rae and you see Sarah Silverman, when you see women-driven shows like Sam B— people are loving it and it’s not just women watching women, it’s people watching women talking about their experiences from that lens, not avoiding, and so that feels pretty cool.”

Winstead says she can only cover the year as she sees it. “I can’t talk about the biggest stories of the year and leave out the people I happen to like. A lot of people I know and happen to like have been hit with some shit and that’s really weird. It’s like everybody is fair game if I’m doing a yearly year in review.”


Lizz Winstead
2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 7:30 p.m. Sunday
The Cedar
416 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis
$45/$55; $65 VIP