Interview: Lewis Schaffer – Lewis Schaffer Is Free Until Famous, £5

This article is from 2015

Interview: Lewis Schaffer – Lewis Schaffer Is Free Until Famous, £5

credit: Ray Malcolm

'Trevor Noah is in the David Moyes slot following Alex Ferguson'

UK-based American comic and Fringe regular Lewis Schaffer talks to us about The Daily Show, Bill Hicks and why he loves John Oliver, ahead of his 2015 show.

How well did satire do under Obama?
Satire means having a go at politicians, the church and other people in power, doesn’t it? Seems like Obama took the role as chief spokesman for the opposition even though he was the chief politician.

The British are overly keen on saying that Americans don’t do irony. Can you offer a piece of evidence that blows that theory out of the water?
Well, irony, the way I think the British mean it, is the ‘in’ joke. Was it Reg Hunter who said it’s a joke you tell one friend at the expense of another friend who doesn’t get he’s the brunt of the joke? My take is that Americans don’t do irony as we tend to be direct. If the other person gets the joke, it isn’t irony. I hate the excessive use of irony. Just say what’s on your mind.

Bill Hicks or Denis Leary?
Neither. I know the dude is dead but I didn’t like Bill Hicks. He ran down the USA in the UK and that’ll get you laughs here in the UK but it’s cheating. Leary, well, he was like Hicks: a lot of attitude. I hate attitude cos it’s fake.

Are American comedians bothered about winning awards?
I know what ‘bothered’ means in the UK but I’m not sure if an American would understand what you meant. Anyway, I would assume all people want to win awards. Not sure they have awards like the Edinburgh Comedy Award. I know I didn’t win any.

What will Trevor Noah need to do to maintain The Daily Show’s success and reputation?
I doubt that Trevor Noah will hold the audience. He is in the David Moyes slot following Alex Ferguson. The guy after him will have a better shot. Plus, he is an immigrant and not an African-American. Black Americans have a very tricky relationship with the country and white Americans are used to that. They are descendants of slaves and slavery can mess you up yet it also makes you strong.

White Americans want to see an immigrant love America. White Americans would want to hear Trevor telling Americans how great the country is, how it is a land of opportunity and freedom and all that shit, yet the powers that be are messing it up. Not sure if black Americans would want to hear some African guy talking like that. A lot of black people (most?) have a back-story of a still-racist America keeping the black man down. Here is Trevor Noah coming into the country and being successful so he doesn’t know the troubles the black man has been through. Then again, he did see some trouble in South Africa, but South Africa is not Birmingham Alabama or Brooklyn. This is complicated shit and I may be wrong. I have seen maybe one entire Daily Show so I don’t know shit.

Tina Fey or Sarah Silverman?
Sarah Silverman. I worked with her in New York and she is so funny and quirky and beautiful and I hope to marry her someday or at least have her as a friend. I have never really seen Tina Fey except her Sarah Palin thing which was a bit of comic acting and not stand-up.

Do Americans generally welcome the likes of uppity Brits (John Oliver, Tracey Ullman and Ricky Gervais for three) coming over there and stealing all your jokes?
John Oliver isn’t uppity. He is very down to earth and humble and acts like he loves America, which I think he does and is really important to Americans. And he continued to be nice to me after he became famous so I love him. I don’t know about Tracy Ullmann. As for Ricky Gervais, my guess is that he is far too complicated a person for Americans to really love and will not get much bigger than he already is, which seems to be very.

Curb Your Enthusiasm or Seinfeld?
Curb. Larry David is the funniest man in the entire world after Will Franken.

Lewis Schaffer Is Free Until Famous, £5, Community Project, Candlemaker Row, 0330 220 1212, 6–30 Aug (not 18), 5.35pm, £5 (£3).

Read more in our series of Q&As with US comedians appearing at Fringe 2015.

Lewis Schaffer: You Are Beautiful

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Fast-talking stand-up from the acclaimed and award-winning New York comic.