Politics and Zing

Friday, August 1, 2008

On the guest list for the Democratic National Convention will be Sen. Barack Obama. And comedian Lee Camp.

He isn't in the running for vice president, but he will be on stage. (Well, on a stage next to the main building, where other comedians will be performing.)

Camp, 28, has performed his political comedy at more than 300 colleges in the past four years and most recently became a staff writer for the Huffington Post's humor site, 23/6. Elsewhere, his stand-up routines can go over people's heads (more than one audience member has asked him who Karl Rove is). But in Washington? They might just get it.

"I focus a lot on the hypocrisy and the contradictions and the lies . . . [and] the effect that it has on our lives," Camp says.

Two of his favorite jokes revolve around abortion and childhood obesity: Pro-lifers who believe in the death penalty are just procrastinators. Obesity epidemic? Let's have an exchange program. Send fat American kids to the Third World and bring the skinny kids here. Share the love handles!

Mixing humor with politics is something people have been doing as long as there has been authority, says Lawrence Mintz, a retired humor professor from the University of Maryland.

"We pretend it is not serious," Mintz says. "It's a little less confrontational."

Camp agrees. And although he is unapologetically opinionated and liberal, he says that he has rarely had people walk out even when he is doing stand-up in predominately Republican areas.

"I think that comedy shows can be used to affect people in ways that standard speeches cannot," Camp says.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company