Jimmy Tingle Looks Back on 2011, Ahead to 2012

Dec 29, 2011

Jimmy Tingle looks back on 2011, ahead to 2012

Joseph P. Kahn, Boston Globe

WHO: Jimmy Tingle

WHAT: On Saturday, the Cambridge-based comedian-actor-filmmaker will ring in the New Year at Arlington’s Regent Theater, where he’ll screen the documentary ‘‘Jimmy Tingle’s American Dream,’’ followed by a Q&A session and live performance of ‘‘Jimmy Tingle for President: The Funniest Campaign in History.’’ For information call 781-646-4849 or visit http://www.regenttheater.com or www.jimmytingle.com.

Q. Time magazine named The Protester as its Person of the Year. Who’s yours?

A. Mine is Václav Havel, the Czech playwright turned president who passed away in December. He took on Eastern Europe’s communist governments in the 1970s and ’80s and did five years in prison. We have lots of politicians going to jail - Rod Blagojevich comes to mind - but not for writing plays.

Q. You’ve launched your own presidential campaign. How has Havel inspired you?

A. He gives me hope that my work may one day become mainstream enough that I influence, if not occupy, the White House itself.

Q. Another comedian running for president was the late Pat Paulsen, who even got his name on the New Hampshire primary ballot a few times. Are you in any way following the Paulsen precedent?

A. I don’t think I’m taking it as seriously as Paulsen did. For me, it’s basically a show. I got the idea just by watching the candidates debate and how they addressed the issues. I address the issues, too, but in a funny way. Plus, it’s fun to be up there taking questions. One guy asked me, “What are you going to do about the deficit?’’ He started yelling at me. Seriously. I said, “Sir, this is a show. I’m not really running for president.’’

Q. Your take on the current race for the GOP nomination?

A. There’s a huge anti-intellectual theme sweeping the country this political year, which leaves a huge opening for me.

Q. For instance?

A. After Herman Cain mocked the pronunciation of Uzbekistan - calling the former Soviet state “Ubeki-beki-beki-stan’’ - he actually gained momentum in the polls. That’s pretty scary. He chastised Obama for being educated, too. “We don’t need a reader in the White House; we need a leader,’’ Cain said. Right. Maybe he should have run with Sarah Palin. She could warn the British, “The pizza is coming, the pizza is coming.’’

Q. Unfortunately we don’t have Cain to kick around anymore.

A. Right, he dropped out of the race because of sexual harassment charges. I suggest he keep the Secret Service protection, in the event his wife tries to kill him.

Q. What about Mitt Romney?

A. Romney continues to flip-flop all over the place. He was solidly pro-choice but now claims he’s solidly pro-life. He apparently only supports a woman’s right to choose in very rare cases - cases of rape, incest, or to protect the life of the candidate.

Q. Newt Gingrich?

A. Newt is very smart, but he and I differ on the issues. I’m a big supporter of gay marriage. Newt feels that marriage should be between one man and up to three women.

Q. As you look back on 2011, what was this year’s hottest gadget or fad?

A. In the spirit of Steve Jobs, this year I upgraded to an iMac, iPhone4, and iPad2. I now have more passwords, PIN numbers, secret codes, aliases, and account numbers than I have contacts in my address book.

Q. Whitey Bulger’s capture and Massachusetts legalizing casino gambling were big news this year. Your reaction?

A. I was surprised they found Whitey in Santa Monica. I would have figured Falmouth. Casino gambling? The argument was that the people of Massachusetts are losing billions a year at Foxwoods, in Connecticut. We need them to lose that money here!

Q. Any New Year’s resolutions?

A. To continue riding a bike because it keeps you young - although I’ll try to follow the rules better. I have a helmet, lights, reflectors, and a bell on the handlebars, but I still make mistakes. Last month, a road block forced me to ride on the sidewalk. “No bikes on the sidewalk, you [expletive],’’ a woman yelled at me. I tried to apologize, but she yelled back, “Nice helmet, you moron!’’ Like I said, biking keeps you young. I haven’t been called a moron in years.