Human WarBox LIve at McForks
Mon, 10 Mar 2003 11:07:28 -0500 (EST)
Punk rock comic Henry Rollins likes to carve up public figures
By MIKE ROSS -- Edmonton Sun
It's hard to make jokes about the war when the people in charge of the
war are beating comedians to the punchline. In a recent phone
conversation with Henry Rollins, the punk rock comic (or "spoken word
artist" if you prefer) brings up U.S. Defence Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld. "Some of the sound bites this guy comes up with are
just hilarious," Rollins says, "like 'going to war without the French is
like going deer hunting without an accordion.' I mean, come on! They
call him the shock jock of foreign diplomacy. It's hilarious how this guy
is so crass. He is funny. It's gallows humour ... I've often said I
wanna open for him when he finally gets to the Sands in Vegas."
Rollins has been seeing recent world events in shades of grey - unlike
the people largely responsible for said recent world events. So if you're
expecting the "I hate Bush" type of ranting and raving when he speaks his
mind at the Winspear Centre on Monday, you may be disappointed.
Now 42 and coming across as a genuinely nice guy instead of the
unforgiving punk rock action figure he's been made out to be - as if
this should come as a surprise - Rollins can see both sides of many
issues. He's against the death penalty, yet can also understand wanting
to kill child rapists. He's antiwar, but also anti-Saddam Hussein.
And just how do we get comedy out of this? Being the type of socially
conscious artist he is, Rollins pretty much has to address the Iraq
situation in his act - much like Lynyrd Skynyrd has to play Free Bird
every night. "You pick out a certain aspect of it and zero in on it and
not for very long," Rollins says. "Almost everybody's watching this
thing very closely on the news channels, and knowing I'm only privy to
the same information that everybody else is, there's not a whole lot I
can bring to it other than maybe my own street-level take on it."
Rollins distances himself from the various vacuous Hollywood types who
set themselves up for scorn with simple-minded antiwar slogans.
"A woman like Janeane Garofalo is very articulate. She can hold her
own. But when you see people like Sheryl Crow on the American Music
Awards with a T-shirt that says 'war is bad karma ... like, hey, man,
war is, like, bad karma.' Lady, shut up! It's life and death here. It's
not bad karma. If you're going to come across as something, have a little
bit more wallop to your walk than just saying, 'gosh, it's bad karma.'
So some of these people set themselves up to be eviscerated.
"I am antiwar. I don't think anybody wants war. But I'm really
anti-Saddam Hussein. I think there's a lot of people over there that are
not my enemy, so that puts me in a weird position. I want the guy gone, so Iraq can have
a chance, but I don't wanna be in a war, and I hate the position our
president has put America in, where the rest of the world is looking at
America going, 'what are you, psycho?'
I hope people around the world aren't stupid enough to buy into the
idea that all Americans are like the ugliness you see. I know a lot of
Americans and they're really cool people, you know? A good bunch. Not
ignorant, not racists not xenophobic. Yeah, OK, some of them, but no one
I know. And it's nowhere remotely the majority. But our president has
really given us a bad review."