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The fusion of politics, news, and entertainment has given prominence to comics like Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, and Bill Maher, who serve as attack dogs for the Democratic Party, which has joined forces with the establishment wing of the old Republican Party against Donald Trump and his supporters. By belittling Trump and his followers, these comics feed the smug, self-righteousness of the ruling establishment, bolstering their sense of moral and intellectual superiority. All the while, they remain comfortably constrained by the corporations and advertisers that employ them. They function as court jesters, never questioning the right of the rulers to rule or the terrible social injustices built into a rigged system. They serve as attack dogs for establishment power, directing their comedic barbs at critics of the system, even if these critics come from the left. Comedian and political commentator Lee Camp joins The Chris Hedges Report to discuss the transformation of comedy from an art form rooted in the counterculture to one that has largely become a megaphone for power.

Lee Camp is a comedian, political commentator, and former head writer and host of the national TV show Redacted Tonight with Lee Camp on RT America. He’s a former contributor to The Onion, former staff humor writer for HuffPost, and his web series “Moment of Clarity” has been viewed by millions. Camp has toured the country and the world with his fierce brand of standup comedy, and George Carlin’s daughter, Kelly, credited him as one of the few comics keeping her father’s torch lit.

Studio Production: David Hebden, Cameron Granadino, Adam Coley
Post-Production: Adam Coley


Chris Hedges:  The fusion of politics, news, and entertainment has given prominence to comics, especially those such as Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, John Oliver, and Bill Maher, who serve as attack dogs for the Democratic Party, which has joined forces with the establishment wing of the old Republican Party against Donald Trump and his supporters. By belittling Trump and his followers, these comics feed the smug, self-righteousness of the ruling establishment and their sense of moral and intellectual superiority. These comics and the networks that give them platforms, HBO, Comedy Central, TBS, ABC, CBS, NBC, and even CNN, which has hired comics such as W. Kamau Bell to host shows on the news network, have little to no effect on the political landscape. They are as loathed and ignored by Trump supporters as they are feted by Trump haters. They’re constrained by the corporations and advertisers that employ them. They function as court jesters, never questioning the right of the rulers to rule, or the terrible social injustices built into a rigged system.

They traffic almost exclusively in negativity, searching out the weird, the bizarre, the stupid, and the inane in celebrity culture or mainstream news reports. They perpetuate the fiction that we live in a democracy. They do not challenge the folly of permanent war from the Middle East to Ukraine. They do not call out the corporations that have de-industrialized the nation and abandoned and impoverished American workers. They attack critics of the system even if these critics come from the left. John Oliver, for example, devoted a show to mocking Green Party presidential candidate, Jill Stein. Bill Maher made public his $1 million donation to Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign. These comics traffic in a self-defeating cynicism that skews all critiques of the real configurations of power. Power only laughs at its own jokes and these are the jokes these mainstream comics tell.

Joining me to discuss the transformation of comedy from an art form rooted in the counterculture to one that has largely become a megaphone for power is Lee Camp. Who, like the comics of another era, Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, Mort Sahl, Bill Hicks, George Carlin, and a handful of his contemporaries including Jimmy Dore, is not afraid to use his razor-sharp wit against our real enemies. Censorship of comics is not new, we can go back to Lenny Bruce. And also providing acerbic comics with heavy financial support to essentially buy their loyalty isn’t new. But let’s go back and talk in the preceding decades where we were, how that operated, and where we are now.

Lee Camp:  Well, first of all, thanks for having me, Chris. It’s an honor to be here. Even though many of those people you mentioned in that intro were my heroes when I was beginning and starting out, and then I slowly got to the bottom of things and realized how the systems worked. But yeah, you’re right that censorship is not new. Lenny Bruce, for those who don’t know, was essentially driven to his death. He was arrested on just about every stage he would get onto towards the end of his life, simply for his words: for going against religion, for going against the government, and making fun of the police. He couldn’t make a living, he was chased, they’d threatened his venues with taking away their liquor license, and he ultimately OD’ed.

So this isn’t new, but it’s almost more insidious now because there was a very select group of gatekeepers back when there were three TV channels. And so in a way, things have opened up. You can now have all this information and it’s so accessible and comedians from nowhere can go viral on YouTube and things. But if you get far enough and your criticisms are strong enough, you are not going to be accepted into those mainstream outlets. You will be banned from them. You will get pushed out of the way. Those who are still there, the people on Comedy Central regularly, the people on these late-night shows, they have made that deal with the corporations that they are not going to question them in a large-scale way. They may have a little line here or there but they’re not going to get at the heart of the inverted totalitarian system we have.

Chris Hedges:  Talk about Bill Hicks. You were the one who had me watch Bill Hicks. He was brilliant but he’s an example of that.

Lee Camp:  His legend has grown. He was known but not really famous in America when he died in, I think it was 1994. He was pretty well known in Britain then, even though he was American. But his legend has really grown because he was saying things about our invasion of Iraq for the first Iraq war that held true for the second one. How do we know they have WMD? Because we have the receipts, those were his lines. Those were the type of things that ultimately did get him censored. His final Letterman did not air famously even though he taped it and they still didn’t air it. But he said things that were so important and he went after those corporations, he went after marketing and how it manipulates messages. And he did it in a way that brought large-scale audiences in with laughter. It wasn’t like he was losing everybody and wasn’t funny; he was tremendously funny. And so his legend has really grown and he now ranks alongside George Carlin and others.

Chris Hedges:  We should talk about Carlin because he appears to have had a pretty successful career and yet has held fast to that ability to ridicule the real centers of power.

Lee Camp:  Yeah. He had an incredibly interesting career because – And we talked about the gatekeepers a moment ago – If you were going to question things, the deeper things, you had to first get famous doing the clean comedy that was allowable on The Ed Sullivan Show and stuff like that. Richard Pryor and George Carlin and Lenny Bruce are a few examples, they got famous for doing that clean, nice, family-style comedy that they would allow on the late-night shows or the various shows. And then they started to question things themselves and it was too late for the system. Lenny Bruce was already hugely famous. George Carlin was already hugely famous. But the system then realized Lenny Bruce was a risk and they started chasing him and arresting him.

Carlin, his big change was he realized he wasn’t being himself, he wasn’t being open, he was doing this clean comedy, and he had a very dramatic shift where he hated himself. And he switched everything and started using curse words on stage, which got him fired from all his Vegas gigs, lucrative gigs. And for a few years was barely earning a living. But then the culture turned around, all of a sudden he got respected for being the type to push authority and push against these restrictions and became hugely famous again. But then at that time he wasn’t really going after the endless war state or the American empire. Those weren’t his criticisms. Instead, it was the cursing that was challenging and went all the way to Supreme Court. It was a Supreme Court case as to whether his curse words could be heard on our radio stations.

But eventually, and I don’t hear a lot of people make this point, the reason he was allowed to do this was because HBO was a young, new thing; it was subscription-based. There wasn’t subscription-based television happening before that much. And he was given these comedy specials where he wasn’t accountable for any corporate ads. They put him up there because he was George Carlin. He did 10 specials and they wanted people to subscribe, so he could swing for the fences and do whatever he wanted and he did it until his death. And he put out some of these brilliant and scathing critiques of the American empire. Jokes about how, oh, we’re really good at bombing Brown people. Those were the type of bits that America had never heard. The reason he was allowed to was A, because he was famous before that, and B, because he was on a subscription rather than a corporate-based platform. Nowadays, HBO, however, is still not going to have people that question Israel or question the American empire.

Chris Hedges:  It seems that comics because they have catered to corporate power and advertisers, laid off of serious critique of the Democratic Party because it’s a one-sided comedy. I’m talking about the mainstream. They’ve essentially rendered themselves utterly ineffectual. I think back to a wonderful memoir by the Lutheran minister, Martin Niemöller who finds himself in the Dachau concentration camp, I believe it was Niemöller, with the cabaret owners from Berlin who savaged the Nazis in the cabaret shows. But of course, they weren’t going after the ineffectual aristocratic government that didn’t know how to handle the fallout from the Great Depression or had abolished unemployment insurance. And because they were essentially working tacitly on behalf of the system, they didn’t have any real political impact. I think you would agree that that’s an apt analogy for what’s happening here.

Lee Camp:  Yeah. People may look at these late-night shows, Colbert, et cetera, and say, what do you mean? They mock the rulers all the time – I haven’t watched them recently – They may even make fun of Biden. But even if they’re making fun of Biden and Trump equally, which they’re not, it was far more heavy on Trump, but either way, they’re making fun of these surface-level critiques. So he’s acting dumb, he fell down. It’s never the system writ large, it’s never the American empire, it’s never endless war. So as long as you have people thinking, oh, this is funny, we’re making fun of the rulers, we’re doing this edgy thing, while never getting to this center, never getting to the critiques that could actually change things, you’re still servicing the whole system.

Chris Hedges:  When you go back to the Greeks, comedy was Aristophanes and these were political burns and they would take down the ruling, the lead of Athens. In Greek drama, comedy had an extremely important political function. You and I were both on RT [Redacted Tonight]. You had a great show on RT and you did all of this. I want you to talk about in your mind what great comedy should do.

Lee Camp:  Yeah. It has to make power nervous, that is the end goal. If they can sit up there on a stage, like they do at the White House press corps dinners, and laugh with you, then clearly you’re not that threatening. Clearly, you’re not hitting at the things that power is afraid will get out to the people. That is what radical comedy that is seeking to create even the slightest bit of change has to do. We don’t get it from most of the famous comedians that people can name on their late-night TV shows. And there are two reasons for that: One is that many of these people haven’t educated themselves, they haven’t read your books, Chris. They haven’t educated themselves enough to get to the point where they understand that critique. Or if they have, they understand how that television system works, they understand you don’t stay there for long if you are making those critiques. Hell, I was on a network that wasn’t even a mainstream network and still my show and your show were ultimately sanctioned to death. 

Chris Hedges:  Well, let’s be clear, all of the shows that were on YouTube were erased.

Lee Camp:  Yeah. For me, over 2000 videos: basically a digital book burning of everything that existed. And unfortunately, not that I enjoy seeing it happen, unfortunately, that means that our critiques were effective and were threatening to the powerful.

Chris Hedges:  Let’s talk about some of the things that you were able to say on that show that can’t be said in the mainstream.

Lee Camp:  Well, I always like to make the point, because people think you’re on RT, you’re told what to say, as you and I can tell people, I was never told what to say. I wrote all my own words, which for comedy shows is unheard of. These people all have teams of writers. I did not. I wrote every single word and was never censored. Now that being said, I could go after things that are completely hidden from mainstream media, things such as Israel being an apartheid state, things such as Big Ag. How often do you hear criticisms of Big Ag? Which controls our government and is one of the largest environmental destroyers on this planet?

Criticisms of so many corporate entities, whether it was Cargill or Monsanto, or Nestlé. And not go after them with a slight little joke but go after them in a deep and real way. To give people an example of how it works on other networks, this is a single page in a entire book that was written about The Daily Show that summed it all up for me and it has always stuck with me: Right after Jon Stewart finished The Daily Show they put out a book. I don’t remember what it was called but with all of the interviews and everything showing how The Daily Show worked, the internal mechanism, I found it very fascinating.

But on one page they go, I was the guy – There was a certain person who was in charge of if the show wanted to make fun of a corporate sponsor or someone under the umbrella of one of the corporate sponsors, this person who worked for The Daily Show would call that company and try to convince them it’s cool to be made fun of. It’s okay to be made fun of on The Daily Show. The clear implication was if that company says no, it’s not getting on there. So imagine the level of corporations that are somehow tied to Viacom, Comcast, all of those, every entity, and if they don’t want to be made fun of on The Daily Show, then they’re not going to be. Well, then The Daily Show can’t critique half of what owns this country. It’s insane to be like, we are a show criticizing how America works, trying to show people the internal structure and we can’t critique half of the system.

Chris Hedges:  Well, they can also pull advertising.

Lee Camp:  Yeah. Yeah.

Chris Hedges:  Let’s talk about woke culture in comedy.

Lee Camp:  Whether it’s a good or bad thing?

Chris Hedges:  I’ll let you go into that snake pit.

Lee Camp:  I have a bit of a nuanced view on this. In general, yes, it has harmed a lot of comedy in that people are perhaps, I’d say too easily offended. They hear a buzzword and they decide that this person should never be allowed to speak on a stage or on a screen again. So it has gone overboard, absolutely. 

Chris Hedges:  Can you give me some examples or an example?

Lee Camp:  An example would be – You have to think of the entirety of the joke – So some people will hear that a joke uses the word gay or uses the word obese or something and they say, that’s terrible. He is making fun of – Well, but did the entire joke make fun of those? I don’t know. You have to take the entire joke and its structure and everything into account and people don’t do that. They hear a word and they say, I don’t like that that word was used. So to me, that’s taking it too far. However, I also want to say that you hear a lot of, more often right-wingers, but a lot of comedians in general act like they’re being canceled because someone got offended. And it’s like, no, people also have a right to be offended. If you hear a comedian who to you is offensive and you storm out of the show, that’s your right. You had a right to be offended and you were offended. Now saying, I need to make sure this person does not have a career is a step too far, generally speaking.

Both sides are wrong on this. The pendulum often swings back and forth in American history. There was a time when blackface was quite common on American stages and now it’s rightfully not, and these things swing back and forth. But by going too far, by acting like someone should lose their career because they said a joke that you didn’t like, we open up a space where now these conversations can’t be had. You open up a space where now it’s cool to see how many people you can offend. And so I don’t know, I have a nuanced view on it and it may piss off both sides.

Chris Hedges:  What about Dave Chappelle? Because he’s been called out for this.

Lee Camp:  Yeah. A couple of points on this: One, people say he was canceled. He’s not canceled. He makes $100 million a year or whatever, has a $100 million deal with Netflix. This is not canceled. You could make an argument that I’ve been canceled, when you lose your YouTube and your podcast, and your TV show all at once, Dave Chappelle’s not canceled. So when people say someone’s been canceled, it’s crap. Now, do I like his anti-trans comedy? No, it’s pretty lame. But if people like it, then okay, they have a right to hear that form of comedy.

My bigger issue, honestly, and this doesn’t mean he should be canceled, is of all the oppressed peoples in this world, Dave Chappelle seems to at times have had some concerns about, of all the people, of all the issues that we could be dealing with – That we could be fighting over the 6 million people that have died from the US Global War on terror, those type of things – Really, you’re upset that they changed the symbol on the bathroom? It’s mind-blowing that that is your issue. And not only is it your issue, it’s your issue on four straight specials. It’s like clearly you have some hangup where you can’t get past it.

Chris Hedges:  So what happens? Does comedy go underground? What are people like you doing?

Lee Camp:  In terms of trying to keep getting my stuff out there, I do continue to do my live streams. I try and be on as many platforms as I can so that they can’t be deleted, or at least one of them can be deleted and I’m still out there. But yeah, it’s a tricky time and it’s a dangerous time for these truly radical comedies. I do hope that it continues. And there’s a lot of self-censoring that goes on. People understand what’s going to get a YouTube strike and they stop saying those things. And that perhaps is almost more threatening than straight-up deleting of channels because yes, it happened to me, but that doesn’t happen that much. What happens probably more often across all of these platforms is people begin self-censoring, because they’re, oh, you can’t question that. You can’t talk about Palestinians. You can’t talk about this or that. So they stopped talking about it because why risk your platform?

Chris Hedges:  So you have this irony where you have far more platforms, but you can say less.

Lee Camp:  In some regards, yeah.

Chris Hedges:  Well, because of the apparatus of censorship, and this came out in the Twitter files, it hits all of the social media. And they dictate, both right-wing and left-wing critics. If you’re critiquing that establishment center, you’re targeted, which is why you were targeted and why I was targeted. So we may have a multiplicity of platforms but we don’t actually have greater freedom.

Lee Camp:  Yeah. You can spend a long time, many years building up these platforms, finding your fans for comedy, or finding readers, and then it can be shut down in a minute. So it’s like they’re playing whack-a-mole trying to stop you. But yeah, I don’t know any other way to do it. A lot of comedians would ultimately throw their hands up and say, I’m going to do a different kind of comedy. Because certainly capable of that, I spent the first five years of my comedy career doing comedy that was not offensive to the empire. But nowadays, I can’t ever see backing down, I can’t see doing it any other way. To me, the road I want to be on is the one where these critiques matter, not where I just get the laugh. Yes, I want a laugh but I also want to be speaking about these incredibly important issues and I can’t see abandoning all that, maybe other comedians do.

Chris Hedges:  And yet there are pretty powerful financial incentives. We both know comics that were on Air America and were overtly political and are now doing extremely well and have shed themselves of any political commentary at all.

Lee Camp:  Or shed themselves at least of the brand of political comedy that will get you censored or stopped. It’s interesting how parallel it is to journalists. There are many journalists who maybe started to get up to that line, realized what it was, and backed off. And now you go, whatever happened to so and so? Whatever happened to that journalist that I really respected and now they seem to be parroting state department releases? And a lot of them get up to that line and they see, oh, this is where I can go. And if I go there, then the money starts to shut down, the positions start to shut down and it’s a lot more fun over here with all the money bags.

Chris Hedges:  So if you are on the mainstream, are there consistent themes? Does it retreat – And you know far more about this than I do – Primarily into the personal? Do you find common patterns among mainstream comics?

Lee Camp:  Yeah, I’d say a lot of it retreats into the personal. And I’d say for those who claim to have some political comedy in their routine, it’s usually a few Trump jokes or things like that. It’s not actually going deeper than that. I lived in New York and I was on stage every night of the week, often three shows a night, and you see what gets laughs from crowds, but you also see what is going to get you booked on these late-night shows. You see your colleagues, your compatriots in comedy, you see, oh, that guy got selected for late night, that guy got selected. Oh, the person that’s ranting about how we’re killing children overseas, that one’s not getting selected for late night. So you see the path, and some comedians consciously go, oh, this is the one that works.

Chris Hedges:  Well, you have examples. Randy Credico would be a good example. He was mainstream, right?

Lee Camp:  Well, Randy Credico, one of his many claims to fame is – Now he’s on the Ukrainian kill list. But –

Chris Hedges:  As am I.

Lee Camp:  Are you on there too?

Chris Hedges:  With Roger Waters.

Lee Camp:  Congrats. But going back to the ’80s, one of his claims to fame was he appeared on Johnny Carson and told some jokes they didn’t like. They say he’s the only one to appear on Johnny Carson and lose gigs because he was challenging the American ruling elite in a way that other comics were not. So yeah, Credico’s an interesting example.

Chris Hedges:  How important is comedy to the sustenance of an open society or democracy?

Lee Camp:  Maybe I’m biased, but very important. But it has to have those two sides. There is a wonderful comedy that is not critiquing anything. There is abstract comedy. There are comedians who I have loved, like Steven Wright and Mitch Hedberg that were never talking about anything political. So it’s not that all comedy has to be a radical, edgy comedy that makes people think. But if you’re going to be even slightly in that realm or think that you do that at all, then my view would be don’t do the little lighthearted Trump jokes that change nothing. If you’ve made a choice that you are going to take a stance on these issues, then do it.

A functioning society needs both those sides. Yes, you should have abstract comedy and non-political comedy; It’s important. People want to laugh, they want to analyze their culture, and that’s all very important. But you also need to have the other side. And if you don’t, then you are in a form of an authoritarian society that can’t handle critiques of itself. And there’s a good argument to be made that the ruling elite are less able to handle critiques as the empire crumbles, as things become more tenuous.

Chris Hedges:  Well, you look at, I covered the Stasi State in East Germany. Making jokes about the communist dictator Honecker would see that you get in jail, even to a friend. The same was true under Stalin and the Nazis as well. They don’t have any sense of humor at all.

Lee Camp:  Right.

Chris Hedges:  It’s eradicated.

Lee Camp:  Right.

Chris Hedges:  You can make jokes about the vulnerable or the demonized, but not of power.

Lee Camp:  I’m no historian, but here it was similar to art where –

Chris Hedges:  Oh yeah.

Lee Camp:  – If the paintings were clearly criticizing the government, then –

Chris Hedges:  And books.

Lee Camp:  – And books, then that was a problem. But if it was abstract, then –

Chris Hedges:  Right. Well, the German film industry boomed under the Nazis, but it was all froth, it was all light entertainment.

Lee Camp:  Right. Right.

Chris Hedges:  I wonder if the attacks on the mainstream, which are largely anti-Trump, are counterproductive in the long term.

Lee Camp:  The attacks on the mainstream –

Chris Hedges:  Against Trump, the constant hammering of Trump and his supporters. I wonder if that’s ultimately counterproductive.

Lee Camp:  It’s quite possible. So it can be counterproductive in that it makes his followers think that –

Chris Hedges:  Well, if it widens –

Lee Camp:  – I’m with the rebel.

Chris Hedges:  – It widens the divide. They hate the institutions anyway that are giving these people platforms.

Lee Camp:  Yeah. It also makes Liberals – Which is not just in comedy, but in so many areas –  It makes Liberals think, oh, we are fighting the good fight. We’re fighting against the bad guy. Meanwhile, they’ll cheer, oh, well, Biden, well, he is no Trump. Meanwhile, he’s locked up more Black and Brown people than Trump ever could have hoped to.

Chris Hedges:  Yeah, yeah.

Lee Camp:  The Trump jokes actually make Liberals think they’re doing right, they’re fighting against the evil.

Chris Hedges:  When in fact they’re only exacerbating the antagonisms, siloed demographic. Are there any serious comics who are strong supporters of Trump?

Lee Camp:  Yeah. I’ll be honest, I don’t keep up with what the kids are doing these days. But yeah, no, there are fewer right-wingers, but they do exist. Most of the right-wingers I knew in New York City in the comedy scene, they’d be more right-wing off-stage. So they’d hide it on stage because they knew that audiences would often back off if you got too right-wing, but it was clear that that’s where their worldview was when they were off-stage. So they also knew which way to go to be acceptable on late-night shows and stuff.

Chris Hedges:  Great. I want to thank The Real News Network and its production team: Cameron Granadino, Adam Coley, David Hebden, and Kayla Rivara. You can find me at

Speaker 1:  And The Chris Hedges report gets some extra time now with a few minutes of bonus material with Chris and his guest.

Chris Hedges:  I want to talk personally about your own situation. They shut down RT, they disappear all of your shows on YouTube. How effectively have they marginalized you?

Lee Camp:  At first, it seemed like not very effectively. Because when you are so extremely shut down you have this initial push by all the indie outlets to talk about it. And I got a bunch of followers on my page,, that helped me to keep going. I also then started a show with MintPress. However, over the months that followed, it became clear that I am shadow-banned so strongly. My MintPress show never achieved what I wanted it to and I decided to move on recently. I have a new YouTube channel but it’s hardly shown to anyone. So it’s the shadow-banning that is more painful to me than – And for those at the CIA watching this, I’m sorry to give you something to be –

Chris Hedges:  Explain what shadow-ban –

Lee Camp:  – To be excited about.

Chris Hedges:  – Oh, they’re thrilled. They’re thrilled. Don’t worry, they’re very happy to hear this.

Lee Camp:  I know, to hear this.

Chris Hedges:  Explain what shadow-banning is for people who don’t know.

Lee Camp:  So for example, Facebook used to be my big platform until 2016, I had –

Chris Hedges:  Talk about, yeah, numbers.

Lee Camp:  – 330,000 followers. Essentially, the moment 2016 happened, Bernie nearly wins the nomination, Trump wins the presidency, and my channel has never grown again, my Facebook page. It’s been shadow-capped at 330,000. No matter what the post does, no matter what seems to be going well, it never grows. I used to gain 5,000 a week. I have, like I said, a new YouTube channel that I can’t crack a small number of views. My Twitter is also relatively shadow-banned. At first, losing the TV show was hurtful, but I was like, I can keep doing what I do. I’m going to keep making my shows, I’m going to do this writing, I’m going to put out books. But it becomes increasingly frustrating when you realize you cannot even reach your fans. People are generally lazy, myself included and so people are not going to hunt all over the internet to try and find your stuff. And so if your platforms of reaching them are all shadow-banned or all suppressed or throttled, it’s very difficult.

Chris Hedges:  And so what’s your strategy? How are you planning –

Lee Camp:  My strategy’s to throw as much shit at the wall as I can.

Chris Hedges:  Right.

Lee Camp:  It’s to keep working, just to keep going. And I think often about, well no one said going up against the most powerful entities this world has ever seen would be easy. I’m aware of that. I’ve always remembered what you said to me after you came to my standup show in New York several years ago. And I know you don’t often make it out to standup shows, so I was very flattered.

Chris Hedges:  One of probably about three I’ve been to.

Lee Camp:  You said to me after the show, you said – I don’t know if was all you said, but it was my takeaway – You said, you won’t be rewarded for this.

Chris Hedges:  No.

Lee Camp:  And you were right. I don’t mean come after me in an arrest me way, but they’re going to come after you. They’re going to try and shut down your avenues for viewers. But I’m doing okay and I keep moving forward and I’m going to keep creating this content and I hope people like it and learn from it.

Chris Hedges:  What does it mean for young comics starting out?

Lee Camp:  Yeah, I really hope that there are a lot of young comics that see this as a possibility. I never even saw this as a possibility doing this type of comedy, doing radical comedy that got to the heart of the issues until I found Bill Hicks and Carlin’s later stuff and stuff like that. And so I hope that it wakes up young comics to the possibility that comedy is not just about the laugh. It’s about the laugh and the point and the soul of the joke and the bits. I’ve had comedians tell me that I’ve had an impact on them. I would love for that to continue. I would love for people to not give up this path because so many outlets are trying to shadow-ban this type of content.

Chris Hedges:  If you had to rank topics, what is the most incendiary for a comic to wade into?

Lee Camp:  Depends on whether you mean incendiary as in going to get you a shadow-banned or –

Chris Hedges:  Yeah, yeah.

Lee Camp:  – Incendiary as in the crowd gets upset.

Chris Hedges:  Either one. Well, let’s do both. I’m sure you know. What are the one or two topics that once you go there, it’s problematic?

Lee Camp:  So I have a podcast called Government Secrets where we reveal the true history of America, but it’s most of the true history that you don’t get regularly. After we did a four-part series on the JFK assassination, my co-host’s YouTube channel was demonetized and our channel or our shows were, it seemed, heavily suppressed after that. He had also done a lot of deeper coverage on Epstein, so that could have been it, but that’s definitely one of them. But Palestinian rights, luckily that’s opening up a little bit, but that was one of the bigger ones. The only video that Redacted Tonight ever put on YouTube and YouTube contacted RT and told them to take it down, was on Bill Gates and a little bit on his connections to Epstein, but it was less about that and it was more about his control of the WHO and things like that, his influence over those things.

And that is the only thing that was ever taken down until they banned the entire channel. So those are definitely some of the worst ones. In terms of what upsets a crowd, I don’t know. I can’t speak to that as well because these shock comics, many of them specialize in like, oh, that’ll really get the crowd revved up in a weird way, and stuff like that. I’ve never tried to go there. I made crowds uncomfortable, but I made them uncomfortable more in them thinking, I don’t really want to hear about victims of US wars right now.

Chris Hedges:  The shock comics and what little I know about it, it’s not even remotely political and often, not even remotely funny, but it is about saying something that will elicit a level of disgust. Would that be a fair way to portray it?

Lee Camp:  Yeah. Yeah. When I was in the New York scene in the comedy clubs there, a lot was how graphic sexually we could be to make the crowd cringe. But the crowd will cringe and then laugh because there’s the laughter of, I can’t believe this is being said right in front of me in a room. And although I curse plenty and things like that in my routine, I’ve never gone for the detailed sexual stuff because it doesn’t really matter to me.

Chris Hedges:  Yeah. Well, because you have class.

Lee Camp:  Maybe I have a little bit of class.

Chris Hedges:  All right. That was great. That was the comic, Lee Camp. Thanks.

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Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for 15 years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East bureau chief and Balkan bureau chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of show The Chris Hedges Report.