East Village comic and writer Chris Sifflet touches on the essentials, including politics, the future of crappy celebrities, Steve Fossett, and what it would be like if Sarah Palin didn’t look like Sarah Palin.
12th Street: At 12th Street we work to promote literature as an engine of democracy, with fiction, poetry, and non-fiction as “oil” to that engine. Where does stand-up comedy fit in?
Chris Sifflet: I heard Jerry Seinfeld talk, after George Carlin’s death, on Larry King. He was talking about politics and how comedians tell the truth, and he said “comedy is a little truth and a whole lot of lies.” I think now, especially in New York, comedy has kind of taken a shift. I only go for honesty. When I first started it wasn’t about that, now I’m totally honest, I talk about stuff that actually happens.
12th Street: So you swing more toward the non-fiction realm?
CS: Yeah definitely more toward non-fiction.
12th Street: Do you think stand-up fits in with poetry?
CS: I do think it fits in with poetry, I think it fits in with music too. Poetry and stand-up are very much aligned. The both can be improvised: poetry slams, things like that. It just depends on the comic.
12th Street: What would you be doing if you weren’t a comedian?
CS: I’d be a nurse. My mother was a nurse and my Dad’s a doctor. My parents would have conversations at the dinner table, you know, my Mom would be telling my Dad, “Oh yeah, I opened a man’s chest today and grabbed his heart and had to pump it, and then his eye starting spurtin’ blood, so I had to close that, but then his nose started bleeding so I had to close that.” So it was basically like a cartoon where she was plugging holes and blood would keep spraying out somewhere and it hit her face. That was, like, every conversation she’d talk about. Like removing light bulbs from people’s—
12th Street: Okay!
CS: And that was everyday, man. So that’s partly where my humor comes from. The very dark, graphic conversations my mother would have with my Dad. Strangely enough though my Dad’s afraid of blood.
12th Street: Your Dad’s a doctor—
CS: He faints when he sees blood.
12th Street: So what kind of medicine does he practice?
CS: Internal Medicine.
12th Street: (Laughs uncontrollably for a few minutes)
CS: I know right? He’s afraid of needles too.
12th Street: (More laughter) Okay, new subject.
CS: Thank god.
12th Street: If Sarah Palin becomes our Vice-President, it will be historic—we all know that. But would her being the first female VP hurt feminism?
CS: Um…It will definitely set the bar incredibly low. I don’t know if it will actually hurt feminism…I don’t know that’s a good question, I mean—
12th Street: Well, Hilary Clinton is a very strong female.
CS: Oh my god, yes.
12th Street: And she would have been a great president or a great VP. But Sarah Palin is the exact opposite of Hilary Clinton in almost every way.
CS: And Hilary Clinton worked so hard to get where she’s at. Then this other lady comes along who was invited to the show. There are other more qualified republican women.
12th Street: Okay and this question goes with it. Would Sarah Palin have the coverage or the fame if she weren’t attractive?
CS: Oh, how hot is she, man? God, she is so hot…she’s a knock out. But if she wasn’t attractive she wouldn’t be as popular and she wouldn’t get made fun of so much either.
12th Street: So if Sarah Palin had the same views, talked the same way, but looked like—
CS: Mickey Rourke–
12th Street: Yes Mickey Rourke, during his boxing years.
CS: Yeah, no one would pay attention, its sad, but it’s the truth. There are some people out there who are going to vote for her because she is hot. It was like this older man drove by in a Ferrari and picked up the ditzy cheerleader and took her to a party.
12th Street: Okay. Apparently, and I wasn’t aware of this, but there is something in Iraq that we have to win.
CS: Hmmm, yes.
12th Street: I hear we’re protecting our freedom, but how did our freedom get over there, because I thought it was here, like did it just up and take a flight to Iraq?
CS: We’re there to win a reality competition and it’s yet to be revealed what it is. It’s like Lost but with actual people dying, and J.J. Abrams is the only one that knows how it ends. I wrote a blog, it was basically a fake news article. I wrote about how it would be very effective in our exit strategy if the Iraqi government changed the name of Iraq to America, because then we would leave. We don’t need to change America, its perfect!
12th Street: When George W. Bush is out of office I think he should be a stand-up comedian. So that being said would you go on the road with “Dubbers” if he asked you?
CS: Absolutely, he would kill on stage. I mean, he’s already killing…but if he were on stage, it would be accidentally hilarious; he’s very naturally funny. Would I go on tour with him? Definitely. Could it be a World tour?
12th Street: I don’t think that would go over very well, maybe parts of Canada.
CS: No! He should do my favorite reality show, its called Exiled and its my favorite show on MTV, which is a spin off of my other favorite show on MTV called My Super Sweet Sixteen, where those shitty fifteen year old girls become shitty sixteen year old girls, but this show Exiled takes the best of the best of them and sends them to another country to live with indigenous tribes, so I think George Bush should do that.
12th Street: You’re familiar with the whole Steve Fossett thing going on right now, yes?
CS: That’s the dude with the plane?
12th Street: Yeah. A Billionaire adventurer who set a bunch of speed records went missing last year, and they’ve recently started to find remains of the plane and some of his belongings. So before he disappeared, his next big project was to rocket to the center of the earth via the Mariana Trench in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, kick it down there for awhile, then rocket back up to the surface. Do you think we should still proceed with that experiment?
CS: Absolutely, and we should send Zach Efron, Lindsey Lohan, Paris Hilton, Miley Cyrus and The Jonas Brothers…fill it with all those assholes send it down and leave it there. Let them all record their shitty music down there.
12th Street: Live! From the Mariana Trench.
12th Street: In closing, sum-up the Economic crisis in one word.
Chris hosts the comedy show AUCTION: with Chris Sifflet every other Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. at Ochi’s Lounge @ Comix on 14th street and 9th Ave.