Asked what he thinks of the 2016 presidential race, political satirist Barry Crimmins says, “I think the main problem is, someone will win.”
Crimmins is known for his sharp, subversive humor, especially in an election year, but also for elevating the Boston comedy scene as the founder of two clubs where Steven Wright, Paula Poundstone, Bobcat Goldthwait and Kevin Meaney gained traction in their early careers.
Goldthwait’s new documentary, “Call Me Lucky,” captures Crimmins’ life and career, in which he supplemented his stand-up act with activism, including opposition to Reagan administration’s support of the Contras in Nicaragua. The heart of the project, though, is Crimmins’ decision to go public in the early ’90s with the fact that he had been raped as a 4-year-old child by the male friend of his babysitter’s mother. He grappled with the memory of this childhood trauma by exposing pedophilia chatrooms popping up on then-emerging Internet provider America Online. When called to testify before a congressional hearing in 1995, he challenged AOL’s reticence to shut such chatrooms down.
On the Variety‘s latest “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM, Crimmins and Goldthwait talk about the origin of “Call Me Lucky,” and how it got a boost from Robin Williams:
Crimmins talks about the idea that a political satirist will turn off the part of the audience who doesn’t share those views.
“If you are progressive politically and it is reflected in your act, it is like you have to warn them,” he says. “But you get labelled as the political act. They say, ‘Well, how come there aren’t any right wing political acts?’ There’s all sorts of right wing political acts. You go out and do reactionary stuff, pro-war, misogynist stuff, whatever. That’s reactionary comedy. [They say] ‘but that’s all part of the fun.’ But me making fun of bigots isn’t part of the fun? So it is sort of disingenuous and it is kind of a form of censorship.”
Crimmins sought to find out what happened to the man who sexually assaulted him. But Crimmins says his motive wasn’t for revenge.
‘Manhattan,” 70 Years Later
“It is an event we don’t know how to commemorate culturally,” he says. “One thing I have discovered about making a show that is about the atomic bomb and this moment in history is it’s a piece of history that has been lost, at least to a new generation of Americans. And it makes sense that we would face great ambivalence about this moment.”
The show returns in October for its second season.
“PopPolitics,” hosted by Ted Johnson, airs Thursdays at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT on SiriusXM’s POTUS Channel 124.