When the scariest sound in your life is the ping of yet another New York Times bulletin on your phone (“What’s he done NOW!?”), it would seem counterintuitive that politics and joy would go well together. Don’t tell that to Lizz Winstead, the cocreator of The Daily Show and captain of comedy’s renaissance as a new beacon of quasi-journalism.
Winstead’s influence can be found throughout the modern liberal media landscape, and she has little patience for calls for lefty civility. “Political humor, when it’s done well, is no-holds-barred,” she tells me. “The comedians’ only ‘side’ is calling out hypocrisy when they see it.”
She continues: “If we keep our state governments in check by educating the public, we control the narrative.
“As horrible as he is, it wasn't Donald Trump who motivated me to start Lady Parts Justice,” Winstead says of the women’s health activist organization she founded.
If you don’t vote for people to keep this dude in check, then we’re literally going to be wearing chastity belts in 2020.
“There’s been a constant erosion of reproductive rights that has been endemic in our state legislatures since well before [President] Obama, and when I started reading about how the laws were being quietly changed, it shocked me. I consider myself pretty well politically informed, but this wasn’t something that was being reported on. What I discovered was that if we can keep our state governments in check by educating the public, we get the opportunity to control the narrative. So that’s where we put our
Two of the dopest queens: Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams at the Golden Probe Awards, 2016. / Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images for Lady Parts Justice
Increasingly, comedy and political action have become common bedfellows. While Winstead would prefer folks learn their rights in public school, she doesn’t shy away from taking up the mantle of educator. “Somehow the comedy troupe has become the replacement for civics class in this country,” Winstead says. “But if it’s effective, it’s effective. You catch more flies with honey: No one has time for a lecture, but everybody has time to laugh. We’re seeing a real uptick in the numbers of people who are registered to vote and to vote early nationwide. I hope that, in some small way—or hell, some large way—we’re moving the needle with our work."
Lady Parts Justice’s biggest annual event, the Golden Probes, is happening Saturday evening and, as a biting take on overblown awards shows, cheekily proclaims itself “misogyny’s sexiest night.” The star-powered lineup will present mock trophies for “outstanding achievement in the fields of sexism and anti-choice extremism,” a sadly crowded field these beer-loving days. The event will be helmed by comedian Margaret Cho and feature appearances by the divine Sandra Bernhard, actors Natasha Lyonne and Kathy Najimy, writer Dan Savage, comedians and podcasters Michelle Buteau (Late Night Whenever) and Akilah Hughes (Pod Save America), musicians Jill Sobule and Holly Miranda, and very special guest Stormy Daniels, who noted in the event’s press release that “there’s never been a more important time to shine a light on the assholes trying to take our rights away.”
C’est ne pas une pipe. / Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images for Lady Parts Justice
No one needs to tell the folks at LPJ that the stakes have never been higher. “Everyone always says, ‘This is the most important election ever,’" Winstead tells me, “but these midterms really are the most important election ever. If you don’t vote for people to keep this dude in check, then we’re literally going to be wearing chastity belts in 2020. So get on it.”
If you can’t make it to Town Hall on October 20, LPJ will be streaming the event via its website at 8 p.m. on October 28 and is setting up a social hub for hosting or joining viewings.
Lady Parts Justice League Presents the 2018 Golden Probe Awards
The Town Hall
123 West 43rd Street (between Sixth Avenue and Broadway), Midtown
Saturday, October 20
Doors open at 7:30 p.m.