Satirist and co-creator of “The Daily Show” Lizz Winstead is fervid about protecting the reproductive rights of American women.
That’s what she wanted to talk about when I called her in New York to ask about her annual hometown year-in-review shows at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis. There are three “Lizz Winstead 2018 in Review: I Really Don’t Caravan Do You?” performances — 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 30 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 31.
My first question got an unexpected answer, and we were off to the races: How do you spend your days? “Lady Parts Justice League. Trying to topple the patriarchy while day drinking,” the founder and chief creative officer of LPJL said with a laugh. “We’re trying to get a handle on who the people are in the elected-officials world, using humor.
“When you see a video of ours, you learn about somebody you never heard of or would think mattered to your life, and you realize they have a lot of power and they change laws in a state and those state laws end up at the Supreme Court. Before you know it, this person you had no idea was in a state house in Idaho has wormed a law through all the way to the Supreme Court that affects your life.”
It sounds as if ladyparts justiceleague.com is news gathering? “I think what we are doing more is talking to the activists of the clinics affected by the legislation because it affects how they do business, their patients.
“It is so insane when more than 50 percent of all the legislation coming out of state houses have this relentless drumbeat of trying to curb access to reproductive health, and the national media … don’t look at it as a trend. That’s very frustrating.
“It seems to us controlling how and if and when you would like to have a family is the first step toward you making decisions about your economic freedom and how you are going to live your life.”
Q: LPJL sounds like it’s become a job?
A: Yeah. It has definitely become a job, my main focus. We have funding from backers who have made it possible for us to run this tiny little, I would call it a reproductive rights rapid response comedy room. We are … spending three months out of the year on the road doing this cross between Habitat for Humanity for independent abortion providers and let’s call it a USO show.
We put on a comedy show, and we have 300 to 400 people in a room. Then we have a conversation after our show with a provider and the activists who live in that town. That gives [them] an opportunity to talk to a whole lot of people, tell them what they need and let those people sign up to volunteer.
Q: Has LPJL taken the place of your comedy?
A: Noooo. I’m just integrating it. For me, whether it was “The Daily Show” or “Air America” or any of the big commercial things I’ve done, the one thing that was always missing was that call to action. The networks were like: It’s not your job to get people activated. Your job is to make them laugh. If you want to inform them through humor, great. Now I can inform people about what I think is important, still make them laugh and then say: “Now that I have gotten you royally freaked out, here’s some stuff you can do.”
Q: You should offer “Hamilton” author Ron Chernow some material for his 2019 White House Correspondents’ Dinner appearance.
A: I know that probably every comic has offered their services. If that great historian decides to go hard, that would be amazing. When you have a president who has declared war on the press, it’s crazy to me [that] this is the time you back off instead of saying, “We want to go full on in.” Comedy taking down the powerful is when comedy is at its best.
Q: Kid Rock called your buddy Joy Behar the b-word live on TV, and then she invited him on “The View” and for a brew.
A: Joy Behar is super funny and she gives zero effs. The joke is on all these men who think women like Joy or me or Sarah Silverman or Kathy Griffin care what these people think.
Q: How often do you get to see your pals Silverman, Griffin, Behar?
A: I just had Thanksgiving with Sarah Silverman in London, which was really fun. She happened to be there for work; I happened to be there with my friend Darbi Worley. I gather constantly with my LPJL crew in the summer. I have made a [bargain with] them: “If I only ask you to do something twice a year, will you promise to say yes?” For me to provide the conduit for which people can use some of their creativity to promote, in my case reproductive rights, it’s easy lifting. I will get you here, you step on stage, do your business, and leave. Everybody wins.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.”