As a political satirist during the Donald Trump administration, Andy Borowitz is never lacking for material. “Donald Trump wanted to build a moat on the southern border and stock it with alligators and snakes,” he says. “When people like me come up with crazy stories, I’m not sure if we’re doing satire or giving him ideas.” The longtime New Yorker contributor, who began his writing career as the editor of the Shaker Heights High School newspaper, brings his Make America Not Embarrassing Again tour to the State Theatre Dec. 7. He talks with us about satire, laughter in dark times and his native city.
Q: Is satire more difficult in an era when truth is stranger than fiction?
A: I did a fanciful piece about Trump ordering all the phones in the White House to be wrapped in aluminum foil. Things often lose their context when they get overseas, and this was reported as real news in China. My stuff is often mistaken for the truth because it’s written in a deadpan style.
Q: Why is a sense of humor important during turbulent times?
A: My main goal is to make people laugh. I’ve never felt comedy persuades anybody or changes anybody’s minds. Sometimes if people hear something in joke form, it can talk them off the ledge.
Q: How did growing up in Cleveland shape your outlook on life?
A: Growing up there you pretty much had to have a sense of humor. My childhood was the golden age of absurdity, with the river on fire and the mayor’s hair on fire. Odell Beckham Jr.’s watch is worth more than the entire city was back then.