One Night Only: See the Comedian Blacklisted by Fox News

Comedian Lee Camp brings his razor-sharp, Carlin-inspired political outrage to Hambone's in Lawrenceville.


 

Looking at a list of Lee Camp’s advocates and appearances, it’s easy to see that his comedic and political chops are equally formidable.

He’s elicited praise from Roseanne Barr and Janeane Garofalo. He’s been compared to Bill Hicks and George Carlin — and Carlin’s daughter, Kelly, concurs. (That’s not the only stand-up progeny impressed with Camp; he’s drawn raves from Rain Pryor, daughter of Richard.) He’s appeared on Showtime’s “The Green Room with Paul Provenza,” Comedy Central’s “Fresh Debate” and as a commentator on the E! Network; his writings appear frequently in The Onion and The Huffington Post.

Those are the variety of kudos you’ll sometimes hear about a particularly gifted and original comic.

The following, though, are more unusual: he’s been called “very funny” by former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark. He’s been interviewed on MSNBC, Fox News, the BBC, “Good Morning America”, Al Jazeera English (on Election Night, no less) and “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer.” He played at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

“He’s doing things his own way,” local comic Ron Placone says. “And he’s seeing a lot of success — his podcast is viral, his albums do well, he has books out, he’s toured all over the world.” Placone, himself a performer that tends towards commentary and satire — “I’ve always liked the idea of expressing a point of view with a punchline” — booked Camp to perform this Friday night at Hambone's in Lawrenceville. Placone will perform as well; rising star Krish Mohan hosts.

It’s the second unique act Placone has brought to Pittsburgh audiences, after bringing in W. Kamau Bell for a one-night performance in October of 2011. A few months after Bell’s performance here, he was signed by the FX network to create his own series. And Placone is no stranger to more challenging comedy himself; his one-man show, “Madness in the Message,” played at the Steel City Improv Theater last summer.

“These are acts that I like, and they’re acts that normally wouldn’t be coming to a market like Pittsburgh,” he says. “A lot of them tour in the U.K. a lot, or go to New York and L.A. and San Francisco. In Pittsburgh, where there’s not a huge club scene, you don’t see acts at that niche level. But I think there are people that want to see this kind of comedy.”

And while Camp’s act is decidedly — almost anarchically — left-wing, there’s no reason to fear, regardless of your political affiliation. Weekly Standard reporter Matt Labash, a staunch conservative, wrote of a night at the “Laughing Liberally” comedy series, “There was one funny comedian there — Lee Camp.”

“I perform almost every night of the week in New York when I’m not touring,” Camp explains, “so on a nightly basis, I have to entertain everyone — and for the most part, I make an eclectic group of people laugh every night.”

A look at one of the videos or podcasts under Camp’s Moment of Clarity banner, though, and it’s clear that his political views — and passion for important issues — come from a genuine well of concern and outrage, rather than simply a desire to crack wise and entertain. “I feel that speaking about these incredibly important issues through the arts is essential to our culture — and our world,” he says.

Placone agrees. “I’ve gravitated towards comics that do that — I’ve always been a fan of comics like George Carlin,” again invoking the legendary act that Camp is most frequently compared to. “That’s the comedy that matters the most to me, and that’s always what I’ve tried to do.”

Lee Camp with Ron Placone and Krish Mohan; Hambone’s Pub, 4207 Butler St., Lawrenceville; Friday, 8:30 p.m.; $10 in advance, $12 at the door; tickets at Hambone’s, or reserve via phone at 412/681-4318; More info here.

 

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