Election years provide plenty of material for comedians — and questions about where the comics’ loyalties lie. There was even a recent academic study of how many jokes the late-night shows have made about each of the major presidential candidates.
Sinbad, the actor and comedian who is doing four shows at Tangier tonight and Saturday, promises to add to the political comedy. But while he supported President Obama in 2008 and is doing so again this year, he does not expect to offend partisans of either candidate with his jokes.
One key, he said in a recent telephone interview, is to make people think about the opinions, but to focus on the ideas, not the person.
“I will not berate you,” he said. “I’m not going to attack you. I’m attacking your beliefs.”
You have to acknowledge the issues are out there, he said, and be honest about them. And, Sinbad said, “I will talk about the elephant in the room.”
One of the biggest elephants being race.
“It’s gotten so crazy, man,” he said. “It’s a rough time. … I think people’s personal views are starting to come to the surface. … Race and sex and ageism. …
“Things used to be run by a good-old-boy network,” he said. “There were haves and have-nots. Now [with the power having shifted] some of those people are feeling threatened. But I think we do better when we come together. … No side has all the marbles. No side isn’t bloody in some way.”
Comedy is a good way to deal with ideas in much the way music is, he said. You hear the joke, or the melody, and are drawn to it — only to realize later that there’s an underlying point.
But Sinbad also knows that there are perils in politics, even if you are just trying to be honest. During the 2008 campaigns, then-candidate Hillary Clinton described a harrowing trip in 1996 as first lady to Kosovo, where she worried about sniper fire. Sinbad, who was on the same trip, said things were not as bad as Clinton had indicated. As he put it during an earlier interview, “What kind of president would say, ‘Hey, man, I can’t go ’cause I might get shot so I’m going to send my wife … Oh, and take a guitar player and a comedian with you.’ ”
That taught him some lessons about honesty.
“I was called a liar,” he said recently. Reporters who had been on the trip did not back him up. It took news organizations’ finding footage from the trip to vindicate the comic. But he is still baffled about why that had to happen at all.
“Hillary Clinton had no reason to lie,” he said. “For her to be there during the war was amazing.” (Indeed, the Washington Post had reported that Clinton was the only first lady since Eleanor Roosevelt to go into even a potential combat zone.) “She said just one too many things. She went a bridge too far.”
That may come up again during Sinbad’s performances at Tangier, but so could just about anything else. He prefers not to plan out his shows — a continuation of his earliest stand-up, when he would take a newspaper onstage and build his act around what was in it. Which in Ohio these days, would still mean talking about politics.
Sinbad will perform at 7 and 9 tonight and 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday at Tangier, 532 W. Market St., Akron. Tickets are $35-$85. Call 330-376-7171.
TV Notes: FX has ordered a third season of the comedy Wilfred starring Elijah Wood and Jason Gann. Production will begin in the spring with telecasts starting in June.
But there will be some changes off-camera for the show. David Zuckerman, who adapted the series from an Australian show, will turn over day-to-day running of the program to Reed Agnew and Eli Jorne, who have been writers and producers during the first two seasons.
NBC has announced a bunch of plans for 2013, including the return of The Biggest Loser on Jan. 6, Betty White’s Off Their Rockers on Jan. 8, Smash on Feb. 5, Community on Feb. 7 and Celebrity Apprentice on March 3. Two new series are also set for January debuts: soapy murder-mystery drama Deception (formerly announced as Infamous) and White House comedy 1600 Penn on Jan. 10.
Wedding Bells. Actress Evan Rachel Wood, who was at one time engaged to Canton’s own Marilyn Manson, has married actor Jamie Bell, People.com reports. You may know him as the voice of Tintin in Steven Spielberg’s big-screen adaptation of the illustrated tales, or from movies like Man on a Ledge, Defiance and Flags of Our Fathers. Wood’s credits include The Ides of March, True Blood and the miniseries version of Mildred Pierce.
The small wedding ceremony capped a long acquaintance. People.com says they first dated in 2005 “after they both co-starred in Green Day’s Wake Me Up When September Ends music video. They got tattoos of each other’s first initial.” But that romance proved less permanent than the tattoos, with Wood moving on to Manson before again connecting with Bell.
Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including the HeldenFiles Online blog, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Fascbook and Twitter. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 or firstname.lastname@example.org.