Q&A: Planned Parenthood’s Mama Grizzly

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[Photo by MINDY TUCKER]

BY MEREDITH KLEIBER Lizz Winstead, the co-creator and former head writer of The Daily Show, boasts a resume brimming with comedic achievements: included in Entertainment Weekly‘s 100 Most Creative People issue; produced The Jon Stewart Show; co-founded Air America Radio; and nominated Best Female Club Performer by The American Comedy Awards. Since departing from The Daily Show in late 1997, Winstead has continued to blaze trails in the world of entertainment. She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, founded a TV/web/theatre-production company called Shoot the Messenger, has appeared on countless television programs, and continues to do stand-up across the country.

It was on the road that Winstead honed her knack for transmuting even the most serious topics into guffaw-inducing routines, and it’s good that she’s so well-practiced, because the motivation behind her current tour is decidedly unfunny. Winstead is performing a series of comedy shows to raise money for Planned Parenthood, which struggles to maintain a subsistence level of funding in the face of outright lies and threats of de-funding from foaming-at-the-mouth right-wingers. Her tour, aptly titled “Planned Parenthood, I Am Here For You!”, hits Philly’s William Way Community Center tonight at 7 p.m.

PHAWKER: Back in April, Arizona Senator Jon Kyl [pictured below right, in clownface] said on the floor of the Senate that 90% of Planned kyl.jpgParenthood’s services consisted of abortions when in fact it only accounts for 3% of Planned Parenthood’s procedures. A spokesman for Kyl’s office had to walk that back when the facts came to light and, ludicrously, claimed Kyl’s remarks were “not intended to be a factual statement.”

LIZZ WINSTEAD: The facts don’t matter to the anti-choicers because they’re not basing their argument on medical science, they’re basing it on The Bible. Having said that, it would also seem that if religion was motivating you and if you believe that abortion kills a life and you believe that life begins at conception, you would want to do everything in your power to prevent unwanted pregnancy in order to prevent killing a life. And a big part of what Planned Parenthood does is to help women prevent unwanted pregnancy.

PHAWKER: Do you think that if Planned Parenthood made their statistics more accessible, more people would see that PP saves lives and would change their perceptions about the organization?

LIZZ WINSTEAD: Planned parenthood makes no secret of their statistics, why would they? I think a better question is why don’t we have an outraged media and an outraged electorate reporting the truth about what Planned Parenthood actually does.

PHAWKER: While we’re on the subject of being misinformed, let’s talk about your favorite person—fellow Minnesotan Michele Bachmann. In the past few years, she and Sarah Palin have, much to the chagrin of sane women politicians, pretty much made a mockery out of women running for higher office. Have you ever considered running for any sort of political office to add to the pool of rational women in politics?

planned_parenthood_budget.jpgLIZZ WINSTEAD: I have no desire to be a politician, nor am I qualified. I like my role as somebody who questions authority and uses humor doing it.

PHAWKER: You recently tweeted that “Marcus Bachmann is the white Al Reynolds”, referring to Star Jones’s ex-husband, whom many people have speculated is gay. Do you think that Mr. Bachmann’s attacks on gays and efforts to turn gay people straight at his clinic are fueled by, or cover for, his own closeted homosexuality?

LIZZ WINSTEAD: I have my suspicions.

PHAWKER: There was a pretty big turnout of protestors at the first show of your tour in Pontiac, Michigan. I’ve read that you generally ignore protestors, but have you ever lost your cool?

LIZZ WINSTEAD:
I probably have lost my cool, but I generally don’t engage with people who are in an ideological black hole. It’s a waste of my time. I’d rather have arguments with people based on a philosophy that’s worth debating, rather than someone who parrots talking points they heard on Fox News.

PHAWKER: The Huffington Post named you the “Greatest Person of the Day” on July 1st for your Planned Parenthood tour. What other publications or organizations have been your tour’s biggest proponents?

LIZZ WINSTEAD: There’s been many journalists, radio personalities and bloggers who have helped me promote the tour, but the biggest proponents have been the millions of women and men who have used Planned Parenthood at some point in their lives and who understand how important it is to keep it going so that people can continue to get good and affordable healthcare.

LIZZ WINSTEAD performs a comedy benefit for Planned Parenthood PA 7:30 pm tonight at the William Way Community Center, 1315 Spruce St., Philadelphia Students $35, General Admission $50

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