With the re-election of Barack Obama last month, many people who were closely following politics and current events reached a burnout point the day after the election.
Comedian Auggie Smith reached that stage almost a full year earlier.
“I can’t watch any politics anymore without getting so angry,” he said back then. “I think it’s better for my blood pressure if I remain divinely and beautifully naïve of all that’s going on around me.”
He started advising others to follow his lead.
“Those of you watching the news or taking in information,” Smith said, “the best advice I can give you is stop doing that. No matter how angry you get, no matter how much you pay attention, it’s not going to change and it’s only going to get worse and worse.”
Seer, sage and soothsayer, Smith (a Bob and Tom Show regular) turned out to be exactly right. This was before the Republican primaries, debates and pants-on-fire political ads of the 2012 campaign. Indeed, Smith came to peace with it all before the GOP started caucusing in Iowa.
“I can’t be upset when a politician says Christians are under religious persecution. Oh, absolutely,” he now says with a laugh. “I wouldn’t even know there was a Christmas if Fox News didn’t tell us it’s going on. As long as you don’t know that stuff’s going on, you’ll be much happier.”
“I used to tell people ‘Stay informed, know what’s going on.’ Nah, none of it matters,” he insists. “Don’t know what’s going on. Until you try and do something about it. When you get so upset all you can do is throw up a tent and go sleep in a downtown park.
But eventually the cops will come and bust you in the head.”
His rant continues with a story about how the Occupy protestors in his hometown of Portland, Ore., were treated at the end of 2011. But as he starts the story — “In Portland they said the Occupiers …” — the phone mysteriously goes dead.
Smith is back on within moments, laughing.
“Did The Man cut us off? The Man cut us off, that’s what he does,” he jokes.
When it’s explained that he was cut off right as he said “Portland Occupiers,” he laughs again.
“Really?” he replies. “The Man dropping his hammer, that’s what he does.”
Smith goes on to explain that the city claimed it cost some $85,000 to clean up after the protestors.
“If you go through item by item,” Smith explains, “on the so-called damage these people caused by throwing up tents, it was $1,600 to power wash the sidewalks. So, the beautiful part about this is, one of the points the Occupiers were trying to make was about government waste and the superfluous spending. They have superfluous spending in the clean-up and criticism of the Occupy movement. And if you think about that long enough, your head will explode, which is why I’m choosing not to think about it anymore. Don’t look at it. Don’t read the paper. There’s nothing you can do about it.”
Instead he’s concentrating on his marriage, having tied the knot late last year shortly after turning 41.
“When you’re a young man her parents pay for the ceremony,” Smith says. “Now, I’m not going to ask her father to pay. The guy’s my age, for Christ sake. I went to high school with him. I don’t want to look like a freeloading cheapskate.”
That wasn’t the only difference he discovered.
“Used to be you’d put on a suit, say ‘I do,’ eat some shrimp and the whole thing would be over,” he says. “Now love has developed so much that you’ve got to write your own vows. Our love is so unique no one has ever written about it before, so it’s up to Auggie Smith to describe love in a fashion nobody has in the past thousand years of writing poems and sonnets. I’m the one that’s finally going to nail it.
“Shakespeare? When I’m done they’re going to call him Shake-square.”
Smith notes that being a comedian requires one to have a certain sense of honesty and vulnerability, which runs counter to writing wedding vows.
“I would love to say I’m going to love you forever,” he says, “but when I was a kid I thought I’d love strawberry milkshakes forever and now I can’t even handle dairy.”
He adds, “I can say things with a reasonable amount of certainty. I can’t say I’m never going to hit you. I’m probably never going to hit you, because here’s the thing: I’ve never hit a woman before. But I don’t know what you’re going to do. Ever try to work ‘probably’ into wedding vows? It’s very difficult.”
AUGGIE SMITH performs at Montgomery’s Go Bananas Thursday-Sunday. More info: 513-984-9288; gobananascomedy.com.