For the first time, Lizz Winstead says she’s feeling “kind of panicked” about her annual trip home to ring in the new year by acerbically reviewing the year that was.
“Humanity is surpassing its capacity for hate-mongering at the speed of light these days,” said the humorist/activist from her office in New York, where she was jotting down a seemingly never-ending stream of targets from the overlapping spheres of politics and pop culture. “I’m overwhelmed. It’s like when you go to see a rock band that spans five decades, you’re not gonna hear all the hits. Or I could just show up in my pajamas and talk at everyone for nine hours. There’s been that much going on.”
For Winstead, doing her annual show — dubbed “Lizz Miserables” this time around — has become a home-for-the-holidays tradition as ingrained as getting a Plazaburger at the Convention Grill, a Bloody Mary at Ike’s or a popover at the Oak Grill. Of all the headline-making jaw droppers over the past 12 months, what made hers drop the farthest? Something involving Donald Trump, natch.
“This mantra that he’s just saying what other people are thinking,” she said. “Really? Dangerous, racist, terrifying things, and people are going yeah! The number of relatives I’ve had to unfriend on Facebook this year, well, it’s been more than most.”
The other thing chapping her hide has to do with the cause she is most known for championing as its self-dubbed “fun aunt” — reproductive rights, and the furor over misleading videos about Planned Parenthood, specifically. “People are tossing aside science in favor of pretenders,” she said. “It’s like believing the cast of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ over the NIH [National Institutes of Health].”
Winstead will not spend the entire night channeling Debbie Downer on laughing gas, though.
“Some good things happened this year, like marriage equality. The Supreme Court ruling the Affordable Health Care Act constitutional. No Keystone pipeline coming through the country. The Confederate flag came down in South Carolina. And the new Canadian prime minister? A very good thing.” (That would be Justin Trudeau, who when asked why half of his cabinet is made up of women, famously replied, “Because it’s 2015.”)
Asked to lay out a sneak preview of her show, Winstead fired off a few topical one-liners.
Islamophobia? “It’s taken over in such a horrifying way. When little Ahmed made his clock, the state of Texas set theirs back 50 years.”
The NRA? “They should rename themselves the AK47 percent.”
Trump? “He’s replaced bedbugs as America’s No. 1 pest.”
Female Viagra? “One of its unwanted side effects is inducing drowsiness. It should really be called the Cosby.”
The changing of the guard over at “The Daily Show,” which Winstead helped create?
“Trevor Noah has brought a great perspective,” she said. “It’s cool to have a block of television with two men of color hosting [Larry Gilmore follows Noah] and that’s just the way it is — it’s not being trivialized by being seen as novelty.”
It’s hard to make Winstead speechless, but a mention of the name Martin Shkreli — the young pharma titan who jacked up AIDS-drug prices, then got busted for securities fraud — almost does it.
“I want to make my money by ripping off dying vulnerable people, yeah, that seems to be the ticket,” she riffed. “That creepy dude-bro is too awful even for hell. ISIS doesn’t even want him. Wonder where that guy is spending the holidays.”
She’ll be spending hers in Minneapolis, “writing right up until the show starts,” she said.