Too soon?

Co-creator of ‘The Daily Show’ talks comedy during a pandemic

Lizz Winstead
Lizz Winstead, co-creator of Comedy Central’s Daily Show says our current social climate has left no shortage of things to poke fun at. | Image courtesy: Lizz Winstead

Do you enjoy “The Daily Show?” If so, you have Lizz Winstead to thank.

Winstead, a co-creator and former head writer of the show, has emerged as a critically acclaimed political writer and producer. As a performer, Winstead brought her political wit to “The Daily Show” as a correspondent and later to the radio waves co-hosting “Unfiltered,” Air America Radio’s mid-morning show with Citizen of the World and hip-hop legend Chuck D., and political big brain Rachel Maddow.

Her comedic talents have been recognized in Entertainment Weekly’s 100 most Creative People issue and she was nominated Best Female Club Performer by The American Comedy Awards and has appeared numerous times on television including HBO’s “Women of the Night.”

She had been touring with friends on the Feminist Buzzkills of Comedy Tour. The tour usually plays once a month in New York but was going around the country providing fans with some of the best stand-ups in the country. 

Then COVID-19 happened, and everything changed.

PW recently caught up with Winstead to talk about the impact of the pandemic lockdown on her tour and what she has planned for when everyone can go outside and play again.

You are – or were – out on the Feminist Buzzkills of Comedy Tour. Have the coronavirus and all of the restrictions that accompany it impacted that tour?

The spring dates have been canceled and we are hoping to add the canceled spring dates to fall.

Considering that the proceeds of the tour go toward helping clinics that provide reproductive care, it is a double whammy as we are watching states use COVID as a way to make access to abortion harder and in some states impossible, by handing down executive orders to halt to procedures.

“Presidents, prime ministers, governors, talk show buffoons, a British Royal and even a Tiger King! It is an embarrassment of riches.” 

daily show co-creator lizz winstead

Is it more difficult to be funny now, given the severity of the virus? Is it too soon to joke about it? Should comedians even be worried about saying something that might seem inappropriate?

Humor in the time of crisis can often be the thing that gets us through it. Across all social platforms, comedians and hilarious regular folks have been bringing humor to all aspects of this pandemic, from the government bumbling, to our fear of the virus, to hosting stand-up house parties, humor is crucial in helping us all find our shared outrage and shared humanity.

Virus or no virus, 2020 will be an awesome year for a political satirist. What are some of the topics and who are some of the people you are looking forward to talking about?

Seriously, who isn’t [up for discussion]? Presidents, prime ministers, governors, talk show buffoons, a British Royal and even a Tiger King! It is an embarrassment of riches. 

With millions of people self-isolating, and virtually no live events to attend, at least here in Philly, where should they turn for comic relief? What are your recommendations for the best comedy on TV, the internet, streaming services, social media, etc.?

I am watching Mike Birbiglia talking to great comics on Insta, TikTok is giving me life, and any and every comedian you know and love is either doing house concerts or offering up cool content you may not have gotten in different circumstances. I am on FB, Twitter and Instagram, as well tapping into who I am and how I am coping and talking with fans about how we feel is really fun.

You have raised millions of dollars for Planned Parenthood and NARAL. Will you explain to our readers why abortion access is such an important topic, especially in these political times? What’s the best way for them to get involved in protecting abortion rights?

The best way to get involved is to follow my nonprofit organization Abortion Access Front, @accessfront on social and aafront.org to get on the mailing list. We will keep you informed about what is happening with the relentless assaults on reproductive rights and give you a variety of ways you can fight back. We deliver content in ways that keep you engaged, using humor and outrage to expose the rampant hypocrisy of those who feel entitled to control our bodies.

Abortion rights are paramount to ensuring a person’s full humanity. If a government decides that it has a right to control reproduction, it has decided it has the right to decide how you live your life, what is best for you, what you can handle and what options you should have when it comes to medical care. A society that regulates the choices, goals, and dreams, of some of its citizens is not a free society.

What are the best ways for people to keep track of everything you’re up to and commenting on?

Follow me @lizzwinstead on all platforms.

What’s ahead for you in 2020 post-virus? Can we expect to see you in Philly or just on the airwaves?

I hope so, but since a post-virus world is still far off, who knows what the plan will be? In the meantime, you can get your fill of me all day, every day in your living room!

  • Eugene Zenyatta was raised on old-time Memphis 'rasslin' and strongly prefers the company of dogs to people. His greatest heartbreak came in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic.