In response to the contentiousness of Tuesday’s election, humor writer Andy Borowitz said he aimed to take the edge off of heated political issues with comedy during a talk at a Pierson College Master’s Tea on Thursday afternoon.
The author of the “Borowitz Report,” a daily “fake news” blog, Borowitz also produced “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” and writes for The New Yorker. During the talk, co-sponsored by The Yale Record, Borowitz read excerpts from his writings, shared his experiences as a comic and gave advice to students interested in pursuing a career in comedy. He also shared his thoughts on the recent election.
Borowitz recently published “The Big Book of Shockers,” a collection of stories from The Borowitz Report.
At the politically themed talk, about 35 students admitted their discontent with the election’s results. But they were soon laughing at Borowitz’s banter. Addressing some students’ dismay over Bush’s reelection, Borowitz said he would try to bring some levity to his talk.
“If at the end of the day, I’ve convinced you not to commit suicide, that’s a victory,” he said.
Borowitz said he is part of a larger movement towards fake news, which includes “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” Now fake news has become a feature of more traditional media, he said. Borowitz is currently a regular contributor to CNN’s “American Morning” for a segment that he called CNN’s “Paris Hilton Bureau.”
“People would rather hear the news from my site or from Jon Stewart,” he said. “It takes the edge off the bad news.”
Borowitz said he chooses subjects for his daily column based on major news events that are familiar to his millions of readers.
“The stuff I’m talking about has to be what everybody knows about,” he said. “If you have an absurdist idea that’s not related to that day’s news, I try to save it for [The New Yorker],” he said.
While he does not usually develop story ideas in advance, Borowitz told the audience one headline that he is considering for next week — “Bush cancels agreement between nouns and verbs.”
Borowitz also spoke about his career as a comedian. As an undergraduate at Harvard University, Borowitz wrote humor for The Harvard Lampoon. A Hollywood producer then spotted him performing stand-up comedy in Cambridge, Mass., and invited him to work as a television comedy writer on the West Coast.
Borowitz said he owed some of his success to luck and his willingness to accept challenging opportunities.
“When somebody gives you an incredibly lucky break, you’ve got to be ready to deliver,” he said.
Ivan Dremov ’07, a circulation manager for The Yale Record, said Borowitz’s “snews” — fake news — was important especially considering the sober coverage of the recent election.
“Especially in an election year, these snews writers, they play a very important role for audiences who just get burnt out on traditional news,” he said.
Costa Lapaseotes ’08 said he didn’t read the Borowitz Report but he liked “Fresh Prince.” He suggested that by focusing so much on political humor on his Web site, Borowitz limited his future comedic opportunities.
“[Borowitz] was talking about comedians tending to fall into stereotypes, and I think when you’re in political humor — you tend to fall into a stereotype,” Lapaseotes said.
Borowitz said in the future he may address the military from a humorist’s perspective.