Interview: Michael Che – Six Stars
‘Stand-up comedy has yet to be pushed past Richard Pryor’
This article is from 2015.
In 2013, Rolling Stone named him one of the top 50 funny people in the world. New York’s Michael Che returns to the Fringe, and here he lets us know the real problem with live comedy.
How well did satire do under Obama? And would another President Clinton be good or bad for American comedy?
I think satire suffered under Obama, but not because of Obama. People are more sensitive now than ever, and strong satirical voices are stifled because of that. I don’t think a Clinton presidency would change that.
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?
I can if you watch my show.
Bill Hicks or Denis Leary?
I didn’t know who Bill Hicks was until recently. But I liked Denis Leary a lot as a kid.
Are American comedians bothered about winning awards?
I can’t speak for every American comic, but for me a great show is its own reward. Comedy is too subjective for awards. Maybe I’d change my mind if I actually won, though.
What will Trevor Noah need to do to maintain The Daily Show’s success and reputation?
He'll need to make it his. He needs to make people hear news stories and think, ‘I can’t wait to hear what Trevor says about this’.
Tina Fey or Sarah Silverman?
I’m more familiar with Tina's work than Sarah’s, but Sarah is great too.
How healthy is the state of live comedy in America? What should be done to improve it?
Live comedy is fantastic. It’s when live comedy is transcribed and reported and critiqued outside of the venue without context that things become complicated.
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?
I didn’t know that was a thing, but I don’t think anybody wants to be stolen from.
Curb Your Enthusiasm or Seinfeld?
Billy Connolly is widely regarded as the man who helped pave the way for modern British stand-up comedy: who would you pinpoint as doing the same in America?
Stand-up comedy has yet to be pushed past Richard Pryor.
Michael Che: Six Stars, The Stand III & IV, York Place, 0131 558 7272, 7–20 Aug, 7.40pm, £12. Preview 6 Aug, £10.