But, when I was in college, we were hippies. It was the tail end of the hippies. We wanted to be hippies so we tried the beard mustache combination and I looked terrible. I had an Abraham Lincoln type beard. You think that was easy? It looked terrible. So then I was thinking “You know what? Forget that. Just go with the mustache.” Did that help? No. And before I was Al Pacino in one of the movies where Al Pacino had a mustache in it. I can’t think of one person who’s effectively pulled off the mustache besides Hitler. And when I say, "Hitler effectively," I don’t mean that in a positive way.

What about Wilford Brimley?
You’re right. This is the type of thing that steams me about our interviews . It's when you play “Gotcha” interview with me. I’m tired of your “Gotcha” politics. You win. I don’t think he has a mustache, does he?

He does. He’s famous for the giant Walrusesque mustache.
I like that. I like that because whenever I think of him, when I see Wilford Brimley I go “Damn it, I’ve got to remember to go to Sea World.” Is there still a Seaworld?

Yes, but who knows for how long with the way global warming is going.
Oh, I can’t wait until it heats up ten more degrees. I really can’t. I would like the whole planet to be like a greenhouse. You know how they say greenhouse gases? I’d like them to actually build a greenhouse that would trap even below the atmosphere all of the gases. And I would like to grow hydroponic pot. And if you have any hydroponic pot Mr. Ben Kharakh, why don’t you bring it down to the shows when you see me and say, “Andy, nice show, here’s some weed. Would it kill you?"

Is that something that...
Yes it is.

Comedian Doug Benson gets pot at his shows.
Doug Benson gets that a lot because he talks about it a lot in his act. He even did a show all about it. See I could talk about him; it’s just a joke with him. Doug Benson looks like he has a hooka intravenously hooked up to his vein. He does. Try and look at him straight in the eye and you will see a man who has been sleeping since the Comedy Boom ended.

Is that something you’re willing to go on the record with?
Yes, I am. And if Doug has a problem with it he knows where I live. Well, he doesn’t know where I live but he knows where my mailing address is. I always write down things from our discussions thinking they’re going to be funny as jokes and then they don’t work out later.

Other people read them later and then have a big laugh.
Exactly. Where is this going out? Is this going out to that paper where I have to go eight blocks down from the hotel and it’s in a thing?

No, this is for
Oh, that’s all you have to say.

Yes, all the talk of "pulse" is just going to make this more keyword friendly.
Oh it’s

Is the fact that I’m not a star mean that it might not get into the paper?

No, no, you’re getting in. You’re in!
Am I a star, would you refer to me as a star?

I would.
Oh geez.

You’re on Letterman and that’s where the stars go.
That’s exactly right. And yes, I challenge Doug Benson to a smoke off. Right now, right here and right now. And I want him to bring the weed and then when we start the smoke off I steal the weed and I leave and declare him the victor.

Earlier in the interview you spoke of the satire of Saturday Night Live, which doesn't seem to be very potent. What do you consider potent satire in America today?
I think Steven Colbert is a genius. I don’t throw that word around loosely except every third sentence. As in, "Man this blender you bought is a genius." I believe that Steven Colbert is a genius because he is actually uncovering the hideousness of Bill O'Reilly and his ilk by playing him. So he’s doing it. I blame Lorne Michaels for everything. Lorne Michaels doesn’t know the difference between Richard Pryor and Dane Cook. They did all this Pro-Hillary Clinton stuff. One week they pretended that the media was in the tank from Barack Obama, which wasn’t even true. If there’s nothing negative to say about someone it doesn’t mean that the media is in the tank, it just means that there’s nothing to talk about at that particular juncture. But they had to pretend that the media was in the tank and the next week they bent over backwards to go the other way. They did a parody of the 3am ad and they had Fred Armisen as Barack Obama pretending like he was not sure what to do when the phone rang, so he calls up Hillary and she tells him everything and he starts going and they bleeped it out but he starts going, “Mother Fucker” and he’s doing it like a stereotypical black voice type thing. Is that satire? No, that’s just weak comedy that’s playing off stereotypes and when they’re confronted with it they’re gonna go, “Oh no no no no, we’re saying this is what Hillary Clinton is saying”. What they’re really saying is, "We don’t have a strong bit, it’s Wednesday afternoon, and we’re sunk”.

I agree with you that Colbert is a genius and his show is both hilarious and informative. But, is one man enough?
One man is not enough. That’s where I come in. That’s when you see me. I do at least 20 to 30 seconds of political material. Don’t they have The Capital Steps? Did they retire?

No, I think that they’re going strong with nearly 30 albums in their repertoire.
How about Mark Russell?

Mark Russell. How about him?
Exactly. Case closed. He’s the guy who used to play piano.

And he used to go “Oh, Mr. Bush you got a problem!” He’s about 95 years old now.

I actually went to a town meeting once and it was full of elderly people. It’s only the elderly that stand between us and utter chaos.
That’s true. Thank God for the elderly, as I approach that age group. And don’t think that I’m ever going to stop, Ben. Because you told me years ago, you said, why, I think it was even in the first interview you did with me where you said, “Why have you not retired?” That was the first question you asked me. I’m going until I’m 90 and 100 years old. I’m in the classic tradition of Jewish comedians. In five years I will start rolling out my gall bladder jokes. Are you a fan of “My prostate is so swelled that” jokes?

How swelled is it?!
I had to change the size of my underwear? I don’t have a joke written yet. But when I do write it, you’re going to be sorry. You’re going to be laughing. On the floor.

Then it will be me and not you that has the swelled prostate.
The tables will have turned, is that what you’re saying, is that what you’re getting at?

I don’t really want to say that because my medical knowledge isn’t really up to snuff.
Right, what about you is up to snuff, you think? If you had to say? Is it the fact that your finger is on the star pulse of the nation?

Yes, and my interview skills.
Would you say that you were an ombudsman?

I don’t know if I’m really mediating anything, but-
-oh, I was just trying to find out what the word meant.

I think it’s a mediator between parties, like customers and business owners.
Oh, okay. I think you also have a good delivery too. Don’t sell yourself short, in case you were wondering.

I certainly won't. I was also thinking that satire can prompt people to re-evaluate things, people, events, etc, but I don't know how effective it is considering how apathetic the population seems to be.
I think people do care. If Barack Obama wins we’re not going to need as much satire because it will actually be something positive that will happen. I know you’re a big Huckabee fan, so I don’t want to get you upset.

Do you think that people are starting to care more now?
Yes, absolutely, because they see that we’re involved in seven wars, the temperature of the planet has increased by 40 or 50 degrees. Exaggeration is always funny, I told you that a long time ago. When you asked me “Andy, is exaggeration better than using the actual facts?” and I always told you -

- Yes, always-
Always go further. Ten is funnier than five. For example, when you’re in hot room, “What is it like a million degrees in here?” Boom, everyone’s laughing and the ladies are hanging off of you.

So you think that things have gotten so bad that people are starting to perk up and pay attention?
I hope so, but I’ve been wrong so many times before when I thought that there would be a spiritual awakening in the country. Or a political awakening.

When was the last time you thought one was coming?
I thought that John Kerry would win and things would turn around. I thought Gore would win, I thought Reagan wouldn’t get elected. I thought that the 60’s would continue, and by this time our hair would be down past our toes. We’d all have long hair and not just for Heavy Metal reasons.

Do you think long hair is the solution to some of our problems?
No, I think it was the problem, but we thought it was a solution. We said, “Hey you know what? Let’s grow our hair out long and that’ll be cool” but then we realized that it made us more angry. I have a picture from my high school yearbook that would make you sick. My hair is parted in the middle, it’s down to my shoulders and it's not unlike a Jesus cut. I looked like a man who needed a lot of detangler.

It seems like you have to bring the thing that will make people angry closer to them, like right in their faces, to get them really angry.
Yes, you mean like when your house is foreclosed?

Yes, like that.
Or when gas goes to 100 dollars a gallon?

That kind of a thing?

And when there’s no more work. And when you go to your bank and your bank says, “Oh, I’m sorry we're not a bank anymore.”

Yes, we need more of that.
Yes, that’s going to happen. Don’t worry about it, it’s coming.

So, what do you see coming?
I see a recession bordering on depression. And that’s when I take over. I’m going to buy low and sell high at that point. I’m hoping for it. I’m hoping that houses go down to a dollar.

So what will you do with all of your houses?
I will then jack up the price. My wife and I high five as the housing market crumbles. Because we’re renters. Is that wrong?

I don’t know much about the economy, so I don’t know when the perfect time to high five is.
What is your area of expertise?

Asking questions! So, the trouble is coming right to our door and you’re going to be there to profit off of it.
Yes, because when things go, do you remember in the 30’s, I don’t know how old you were in the 30’s during the Depression.

I think I was negative 57 years old.
Okay, in the Depression people went to see these Bugsy Berkeley musicals. Does it ring a bell to you?

I think I need a refresher.
Okay, it would be underwater ladies dancing in a line and they made these big musicals and they spent a lot of money to cheer people up because it was a depression. To a man like me, who brings joy to the non-masses, I'm going to be able to profit during down times. People want to laugh, they want to laugh when they’re depressed and broke. Unfortunately, they don’t want to pay a high-ticket price for that, so they’ll go to an open mike night.

That’s a mistake, I think.
Oh no, but they’ll go to some kind of a showcase where’s there’s good comics but you still don’t have to pay.

Also a mistake.
Now where do you live?

I’m in New Jersey.
Okay. Is anybody ever booked back at Helium in Philly? Or is it a pipe dream?

I hope they have you back.
Didn’t you have to punch somebody when you were there?

When I was there to see you there was almost a fight. It was like that one episode of Curb where there was a character named Hugh and Larry kept saying “Fuck Hughhh”
Right, and they were at a movie theatre, right?

Exactly. And there was one guy at your show who said, “Fuck You” and the other guy says “Oh No, Fuck You!”
Right, and there was a woman with one of them.

Yes! And the one guy brought his wife into it, and I think he said something like, “Fuck you and your piece of shit wife!”
Yes, and then you said, “Welcome to Philadelphia!” What a wonderful city. Maybe they shouldn’t have signed the Declaration of Independence. Is that where they signed the Declaration of Independence?

Okay, I know three verses to “Philadelphia Freedom” and that’s all I know about Philadelphia. “Philadelphia Freedom, I love you. Yes, I do.” Do you want to hear my other Philadelphia joke?

Read Part 2!

Interview by Ben Kharakh contributing writer

Photos by Susan Maljan

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