Andy Borowitz brings his satiric, post-election shtick to the Forest.
By Mary Jo Patterson
In a sold-out November performance The Acorn billed as “quite unconventional” for the Drew Forum, jeans-clad satirist Andy Borowitz skewered anyone and everything from the presidential election to the MSNBC slogan (“Yeah, ‘Lean Forward,’ it’s like a rectal exam”) to the Drew Forum itself. Best known for “The Borowitz Report,” a New Yorker blog of preposterous fake-news stories, and as co-creator of the 1990s TV sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Borowitz, 54, sat down for a Q&A with Drew Magazine shortly before his appearance.
DM: When did you realize you could make others laugh?
AB: From early on, I was a clown. I’m told when I was 3 I would get up in the middle of big family gatherings and start dancing. I was the youngest of three children, and felt very much like an afterthought. I’ve found a lot of comedians are the youngest child in their family. The youngest child is always looking for ways to get attention.
When did your talent for satire show up?
When I was 13 I made Super 8 movies, trying to imitate Woody Allen movies. Everything I did was parody and satire. I would do fake newspapers. I wrote three detective novels that were parodies of detective novels. But it wasn’t until college—I was president of the [Harvard] Lampoon—that I found other adults who shared my interest.
Kings of Comedy
In his Forum opening, Borowitz dropped that he had been talking to Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart about upcoming gigs: Colbert was leaving to be on Leno, Stewart on Letterman. “I decided to just say I had a gig in New Jersey, as to not brag,” said Borowitz. “But as soon as I said New Jersey, Colbert goes, ‘It’s the f***ing Drew Forum, isn’t it?’”
You were hired as a film writer straight out of college?
Yes. It was a lucky break. It’s a story annoyingly devoid of struggle. I was in the right place at the right time. My story does not follow the usual arc of unhappiness and disappointment.
Why did you desert a successful Hollywood career?
I moved to New York as Fresh Prince was winding down [in the mid 1990s]. It felt very repetitious to me. I grew up on sitcoms. I loved sitcoms. I just felt burned out. I wasn’t really doing something I enjoyed. I could have easily stayed in Hollywood for another 20 years and phoned it in. But it was time to do something new. I had no idea what—I didn’t have any kind of master plan.
What happened next?
I would say the ’90s were a very dark decade. The first half was spent realizing, “You’re a hit, but it’s not making you happy.” Figuring out how to fill your days [after leaving Hollywood] wasn’t fun either. But it was necessary.
Do you work less these days?
Way less. My most important job now is as a father of three kids and a husband. My writing takes very little time. I can write a column in 15 minutes.
Do you ever hear back from people you’ve offended?
Not really. I remember a while ago, maybe eight years ago, Hillary’s book came out. I did a really dumb, silly column about how the audiobook could be read by Monica Lewinsky. We got a message from Monica Lewinsky’s publicist. She really objected to our harkening back to the Clinton sex scandal when Monica had become better known as a handbag designer.
Thousands follow you on Twitter and Facebook. Do you read the comments on your Facebook page?
No. I stopped doing that years ago. The internet is such a cesspool of hating. I consider myself a writer, not a public figure. I am now living in a silo, without any feedback. The only thing I do pay attention to is web traffic.
Do you have a sense of who your fans are?
You called the 2012 presidential election correctly. Would you care to make a prediction about President Obama’s second term?
I think it will be extremely sexy.
What about 2016?
Who do you think is going to run? Mitt Romney. Other than him, I don’t know.
More at drew.edu/borowitzlivetweet
Illustration by Joe Ciardiello