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Comedians 'Feel the Bern' at the Laugh Factory

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign was the beneficiary of a benefit featuring prominent comedians at the Laugh Factory.
Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign was the beneficiary of a benefit featuring prominent comedians at the Laugh Factory.
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Some of the biggest names in comedy took to the Laugh Factory stage on Jan. 26 for a night of political jokes — and to Feel the Bern. Billed as a grassroots fundraiser for presidential hopeful U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, the two shows featured, among others, Sarah Silverman, George Lopez and Jeff Garlin. 

Frame contributor Collin Friesen managed to sneak into the early show, and gave his account to John Horn. 

So, what does a Bernie Sanders grassroots comedy fundraiser sound or look like? 

Well, imagine a Rick Santorum rally with fewer people and more prostate jokes. I'm kidding — only kind of. It was actually pretty low-key. Given that it was five o'clock on a Tuesday afternoon, I think any key was kind of impressive. The house was about half full, maybe 150 people. I'm sure the late show sold out, but there were a lot of Bernie Sanders t-shirts and at least one Bernie Sanders wig and a lot of ernest young people with clipboards working the sidewalk making sure people had signed up for all sorts of Bernie Sanders-related activities. 

I understand someone who was there is a part owner of the club, his name is Paul Rodriguez and he's also a comedian. What's his position on Bernie Sanders? 

Well, in a comic way, he admits that part of him just wants Trump to win. 

Rodriguez: To be totally honest, my heart is kind of divided. The Latino in me hates Trump, but wants him to win for comedic reasons.

But the thing I realized is that the comics aren't this homogeneous blob of liberal funny people. There are actually a lot of shades of gray and opinions out there. And if they have one true loyalty, it's getting a laugh. I also had a chance to speak with Maz Jobrani — not a Donald Trump fan. And I asked him if comics aren't kind of helping Trump's campaign by always talking about him, making jokes about him and just boosting his profile. 

Jobrani: Well, I think, unfortunately, you can't just send out a memo to everybody who's in the media and say, Don't talk about Trump, and have everyone agree to not talk about Trump. He says some very outrageous stuff. I think the real culpability goes to the people that support him. And I think the unfortunate thing is we thought that we made so much progress when it comes to race and understanding and being an open society. But you realize there was a lot of people behind closed doors that had racist values, racist ideas, racist thoughts — and they've come out. 

In the broader entertainment world, does Hillary have most of Hollywood's support? 

I'm not even sure how you would quantitate that. People that have signed on to the Sanders bandwagon include Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Margaret Cho, Patton Oswalt, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Piven, Danny DeVito ... it's pretty evenly divided in terms of the ways Hollywood people seem to be going. I don't know whether they're all going to rally around the eventual nominee when the time comes, because there's a saying that Sanders doesn't have followers, he has true believers. And you really get that feeling when you're out there. 

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