There’s a good chance that you don’t know comedian Lee Camp. He got on our radar a couple of weeks ago when he interviewed Julian Casablancas for his RT show, Redacted Tonight. Camp has been making the comedy rounds for a good while, though it’s his show on RT that’s brought him the most attention. We chatted with him about his comedy and politics in art after a set opening for The Voidz.
Doing a show on RT, the network that’s said to be an arm of the Russian government, means there’s pretty much no bounds on content. “I get to do whatever I want pretty much. No one has told me to say anything, and I come up with all of my own stories and I write my own stories. Taking nothing away from some of the great comedians who have T.V. shows right now, I have no writers. I mean, my correspondents write their own pieces, but for my stuff I write it all myself with plenty of freedom. And I can talk to people who used to be at other networks, not comics, but they all talk about the level of censorship which to me sounds so extreme,” says the comic.
RT, being labeled a foreign entity, has always puzzled anyone unfamiliar with the tag. When asked about this, Camp explains “if you want to get to the heart of it, the corporate Democrats, and I say this because most Democrats across the country are good people who wanna’ help people. But the corporate Democrats, the people in power, they had to find a reason that Trump won that wasn’t real or stood for anything. What they came up with was doing neo-McCarthyism. That’s the real reason, and it’s playing with fire essentially. You’re talking about people with nuclear powers going at each other’s throats. Why would you ever wanna’ do that?
“It’s a sick game that they’re playing and the foreign agent thing doesn’t even make sense. The law was created in the fifties or sixties to stop Nazi lobbyists, or German lobbyists, and it was only supposed to cover lobbying firms. We’re supposed to have freedom of the press in this country, but RT was the first to be called that, and because it’s a slippery slope they’re also going after the Chinese networks, and then who knows what’s next. Al Jazeera? BBC? It’s sad, but real news and journalism doesn’t get clicks in this country anymore.”
When it comes to news that Camp covers on his show, there’s plenty of topics he covers that barely get any space on the networks today. Topics like China not accepting recycling from the U.S. or voting machines being rigged all get coverage, though it made us wonder if there’d be a day when he couldn’t find the humor behind such sad topics. “I think that there will always be humor. There was humor in the concentration camps, so that’s not what I worry about. What I worry about is that we will get to such a dark place as a country, that the humor won’t be a helpful distraction anymore, because people will have given up on our society as a whole. I think humor right now is crucial, because it helps turn on people to these issues who wouldn’t normally know about them. They’re willing to listen and listen longer to someone who will make them laugh.”
His comedy is definitely the type that covers topics people need to know about, but it’s also done in a way that keeps things light and humorous. It’s not a doctrine of sorts, but rather an funny take on situations that wouldn’t be seen as humorous in any other setting. “There was a saying during ‘Occupy’ that was ‘you can’t pepper spray an idea.’ The parties Democrat and Republican are so alike nowadays, and that’s the dark discussion that can’t be had on our mainstream media today. For all of the important issues like gay marriage and abortion, if you add those important issues up, you’re still looking at a time where Republicans and Democrats still agree on eighty to ninety percent of the core issues of this country. Big pharma, the military industrial complex, the prison system, Wall Street, there’s very little difference. The gap between them is very narrow and people can’t decide between the two. Bernie Sanders supporters saw someone who stood out between the two.”
Though Camp doesn’t live in the South, he was born there. Knowing that he’s not what’s typical of what votes in the southern states, we were curious as to how he saw his message playing out for his string of dates in Texas with The Voidz. “I was born in Richmond, Virginia and I was actually named after Robert E. Lee. But the hope is that doing this tour with The Voidz will open the eyes of someone who wouldn’t see things the same way. I’ve always had trouble selling tickets in the south because of that, but I think that with these shows, we’ll open some eyes we hadn’t opened before.”
You can catch Camp on Redacted Tonight through RT.com or you can register here to see the show live weekly in Washington, D.C. Camp is set to debut a new comedy special before the end of the year as well. You can see him in person tonight in San Francisco at The Verdi Club or Saturday October 27 at The Kuumbwa Jazz Club in Santa Cruz. A complete list of his schedule can be accessed here.
Image Credits: Photo by Derek Rathbun.