When he hears people describe fellow comedians Jon Stewart and Bill Maher as “liberal comics,” Jimmy Dore bristles.
“They’re comedians,” he insists. “They tell jokes.”
More than once on his Jimmy Dore Live radio show, as well as his podcast Comedy and Everything Else, he has stated that a comedian should “speak truth to power.” Dore of course has also been casually painted blue by those who overlook the fact that the he too is simply a hilarious stand-up comedian who also happens to be interested in politics.
His interest in government and current events goes back to his high school days in Chicago, when a teacher assigned students in a civics course he was taking to read Time and Newsweek during class.
“I started thinking, ‘If what this says is true, this Ronald Reagan is really screwing up the country.’ ” Not surprisingly The Gipper would wind up in Dore’s comedy. “They buried him three times,” he tells audiences. “And at none of those funerals did anyone remember to cut off his head and drive a stake through his heart.”
For Dore the radio show and podcast formats offer him different vehicles for his humorous observations. Much like Maher and Stewart use their respective TV programs to create a broader forum, Jimmy Dore Live and Comedy and Everything Else give him the chance broaden his comedic talents. The former is a one-hour program heard weekly on KPFK, a public radio station in Los Angeles and broadcast to other stations across the country on the Pacifica Radio Network.
The show, also available as a podcast, features Dore and a panel of comedian/writer friends discussing the topical issues of the week and features pre-recorded bits in which he reacts to things politicians and pundits have said in the media. The Comedy and Everything Else podcast, which he co-hosts with is wife Stefane Zamorano, focuses largely on the comedy scene but sometimes takes on social and political issues as the “everything else” implies.
An issue that has stuck with Dore as of late is the idea of “false equivalency” that the media tries to create when reporting on events or public policy.
“Phony fairness,” Dore calls it. “They’ll have a guy on who’s a scientist talking about climate change and then they’ll have a guy who is denying climate change, as if they’re equal positions. What they should have is 99 guys come and talk about climate change and have one guy come on and deny it. That would be what is actually fair and balanced.”
He doesn’t see things getting any better.
“I saw a headline the other day that 40 percent of Americans don’t believe in evolution,” he says. “If we can’t get over that hurdle, how can we make anything right? That’s four out of 10 people (who don’t believe in evolution). That’s pretty deep.”
Perpetuating the false equivalency are people that should know better. Maher and Dore were among those criticizing Stewart after The Daily Show host’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” a few months back.
“I think it was such shame that Jon Stewart wasted his moment of having the country’s ear and pretending that if everybody just calms down a little bit, everything is going to be OK,” Dore says. “Guess what, Jon? Things are fucked up and getting way worse at an alarming rate and if people don’t start screaming their heads off we’re going to lose our country.”
Though things might look dire at times, Dore still manages to maintain his passion for comedy and telling jokes and not just ones about government and politics.
“It bugs me that everybody calls themselves a nerd these days,” he adds. “When I grew up, being a nerd was a bad thing. You didn’t want to be one. Now everybody calls themselves that. Rachel Maddow calls herself a nerd. You’re not a nerd. You’re smart, you have your own TV show and you’re a lesbian. That’s everything I want to be!”
JIMMY DORE performs at Montgomery’s Go Bananas Thursday-Sunday. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.