New York satirist Lee Camp on Occupy Denver, dead raccoons and political douchebaggery
Lee Camp's fine with making you uncomfortable. It's his stock in trade. On camera -- most notably in his stints on Good Morning America, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, and various FOX, MTV and CNN shows, Camp gives audiences a this-is-how-it-really-is take on current events ranging from corporate excess to political misdeeds to the Occupy movement. The latter has made him perhaps the most famous (or infamous, depending on your ideological leanings), as Camp has become the comedic face of the anti-establishment cause. He's coming to town this Friday for the Occupy the Debates gathering that starts at 6 p.m. in Civic Center Park, and then will do his full, hour-long show at the Deer Pile at 10 p.m.
Westword caught up with Camp before he hit town to discuss getting called out, creative put-downs and Voltaire's Candide.
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Westword: Where does your material come from?
Lee Camp: A little bit of everywhere from what's going on in the world. It's a cultural commentary of everything that's going on around us. It lines up really well with the Occupy movement. I was there the first night [at Zucotti Park in New York City] and have performed at a dozen of those gatherings.
How familiar are you with the Occupy Denver movement?
Well, that's one of the reasons I'm coming out there. I don't know who was initially organizing Occupy Denver. But Occupy the Debates is flying me out to do a short set. The event starts at 6, I'm gonna be performing between 7 and 8 p.m. It's me along with a lot of other things -- bands and speakers -- and I'll be a small part of it.
You comment on a lot of political and social events in your Moments of Clarity online video series. How do you stay on top of news stories? So many of your monologues criticize news outlets for not telling the whole truth....
At the end of one of the recent Moments of Clarity, I list where I get a lot of my stuff. Alternet's one. Realnews is another. There are a lot of sources out there if you go looking. Democracy Now! I watch every day. And I will go to the more mainstream ones like Huffington Post to get an idea of what America's seeing. You turn on the mainstream media news, and you see a difference between them and what's reported by good news channels that aren't corporate-owned, like Democracy Now!
Do you ever get the facts wrong when you're talking about big issues, and if so, how do you handle that? Do you issue a public apology?
I mean, I'm definitely called to task a lot. The majority of those who do that, though, are people misunderstanding the joke. I talk in one Moments of Clarity about a news story where a girl got her hair caught in a machine in shop class. I responded by saying 'Why the fuck are we still teaching shop class?!". The point is not that kids shouldn't learn to work with their hands. People complained to me, said that it's still important to build things. A lot of people misunderstood the joke. Occasionally I do get facts wrong, but it rarely happens in my videos. When I get called out accurately it's like on Facebook, when I put something out there too quickly. I put some KONY 2012 stuff up there and about six hours later, people were calling me out on that. That's just an example of how things work so fast. Information's being pushed out so quickly.