Today I talk with a four-time Emmy-award-winning writer for "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and contributor to its bestseller, America (The Book). He has also written for HBO's "Dennis Miller Live" as well as humor and feature pieces for the Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Esquire, and Maxim. To help us all transition into this new and exciting phase of history, he has published the book Apocalypse How: Turn the End-Times into the Best of Times!
It feels like the apocalypse has been upon us now for almost seven years or so. What prompted you to write Apocalype How now?
I just think it's all converging now: global warming, terrorism, epidemics, increasingly smarter appliances. Have you seen some of the new GPSes? It's only a matter of time before they start directing us to 'turn left' over a cliff.
What's your favorite movie/book/TV show about the apocalypse?
Probably a toss-up between the "V" miniseries and the film version of "On the Beach." If you've ever wanted to watch Fred Astaire not dance and die by carbon monoxide, it's the perfect film.
Did you ever learn why the clothes are left behind in the "Left Behind" version of the rapture? Why not appendices and extra weight and such?
No, but I view this is as a great shopping opportunity for the rest of us sinners - in the book I provide a nationwide guide to this "ultimate consignment store."
Which news anchor would you most like to have break the news about the Apocalypse to you?
Anderson Cooper, because if I understand correctly, he can crane his head around in a complete circle and see everything.
You're going to have a baby soon--I guess you don't go for that whole "Why bring a child into such a terrible world that's just going to end soon anyway blah blah blah" thing?
We're having one in October, and we're hoping for three eyes, so the chances are he or she will fit in in the afterworld.
I'm in love with JK Simmons: how did you get him for "Jewno"?
During the strike, I became friendly with someone who had worked with him on "Oz" and slipped me his e-mail. I still can't figure out why Simmons agreed - maybe to make up for that whole neo-Nazi character thing.
Are the Daily Show writers waiting impatiently for the general election to get down for business are are you guys enjoying milking this Barack/Hillary situation for all its worth?
The former - we think John McCain is getting a bit of a free pass on his quirks, and can't wait for that to end.
What's the story with Camp Sabra and "Jewish Girls Gone Wild"?
The video really caught on with Camp Sabra campers, but unfortunately some of their parents saw it and didn't like the idea of sex associated with camp (shocking!). We got an angry call demanding we take it down from a sheepish Camp lawyer (which is so much less cool than being the Camp doctor, IMO). We ended up blurring it out.
How do you like Dennis Miller as a pundit?
Dennis is as sharp as ever. I think for a while he might have hitched his wagon to the wrong horse for a while, but then again, after 9/11, we all know the President went from being a remedial student to a rocket scientist.
Where do you keep your Emmy?
Atop a bookshelf in the tiny office we're desperately trying to turn into a baby room. They can't climb bookshelves, can they? I don't want it to get 'poopy.'
Do you have any advice for husband/wife comedy writing teams?
Based on my wife's and my experience, if you don't think something's funny, come up with a better suggestion of your own. That and don't watch comedies around any of your non-writer friends, if you want to keep them as friends.
You've worked on a lot of respected comedy-topical shows : which has been the most fun?
"Dennis Miller Live" and "Daily Show" have been fun for different reasons. At DML, we were trying to adjust to post-Clinton politics becoming real again -- from blowjobs to ballots. At Daily Show, we've been trying to diffuse our horror at what's happening in politics these days.
What were you deported for Uzbekistan for? why were you there in the first place?
I was making a documentary there in the mid-90s, when hard currency was king, and I got tired of paying bribes, so finally I refused. They asked, "When are you leaving?" I said, "Thursday." They stamped my passport "Deported" - using the same term as they used for Solzhenitsyn! I wish that guy's and my life would stop overlapping.
What powers does a Superjew have?
I haven't been able to figure out yet! So far, all they seem to include are "poor optical correction" and "inexorable magnetic pull toward law school."
What did you watch on TV during the writers' strike?
My wife (also on strike) and I watched almost nonstop Turner Classic Movies. We caught everything from "Ben-Hur" to that great unknown 60s classic "Skiddoo." Let me summarize: Jackie Gleason LSD trip. That's all you need to know.
What's the last thing that made you laugh out loud?
I can't answer that honestly, or a lot of the people I'm texting right now will know I'm lying.
How does it feel to be the 209th person interviewed for Zulkey.com?
I just hope that one day you will fondly number me among your "top 8,000."