Stephanie Miller on her Sexy Liberal tour and the advice she took from Chely Wright

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AE: Do you think you’ve had to work harder than men in the progressive media to be so accomplished and successful?

SM: I don’t know, I think I’ve been pretty lucky. I work hard, I’m unique. We’ve been called The Daily Show on the radio. I think we’re more of a unique mix. I always think of it more as a comedy show than a political show–not that we don’t have serious discussions. But, I always think of myself foremost as a comedian and that’s where the tour came from–Sexy Liberal. 

One of my oldest friends has said to me that it’s interesting that I didn’t choose this, but with all my background, what I’m doing is perfect. I never thought I would do anything with politics, but my dad ran for vice president. It’s in my blood. And now what I’m doing is kind of perfect. I didn’t become Ellen or Oprah

Carol Burnett called in on my birthday; I’m friends with her daughter. I cried; she’s like my hero. I told her I always wanted to be her, but it didn’t work out. She made me cry when she said I shouldn’t be Carol Burnett because there’s only one Stephanie Miller and nobody does what I do. I was bawling. 

 

AE: I think you’ve been very blessed to use so much of your life experience and your natural talents together and make a career out of it.

SM: I’m just very lucky. I love what I do. When I was younger, of course I thought, “Oh, I didn’t become Rosie, I didn’t become Jon Stewart.” But, I’ve received letters from people that I treasure who said I saved their daughter’s life or their father just died and the only time they saw him laugh in the last few months of his life was listening to me. And I’m just sitting here in a little room. I don’t know if I’m reaching anybody or if anyone is laughing. Radio is an interesting phenomenon. 

 

AE: I listen to you every morning and talk back to you.

SM: It is interesting when I get letters from all over the country. I just love knowing that someone just spit out their coffee in their car in Boston and, at the same time, someone in Chicago laughed out loud in their office. That’s a shared humanity. 

 

AE: It’s a connection.

SM: Right.

 

AE: I read a transcript of a conversation you had with Carly Fiorina.

SM: Yeah, on the State of the Union on CNN. 

 

AE: I identify as a feminist. And something about feminism that I begrudge sometimes is that being a feminist means that I have to defend the rights of the Carly Fiorinas of the world. And the Stacey Dashes and the Fox blondes–girls that I really struggle to respect. How do you manage to maintain a level of respect for these women?

SM: Yeah, women that aren’t very nice to other women. 

 

AE: Exactly. And they’re actively participating in the war on women, I believe.

SM: I was never asked back because Carly Fiorina was a paid contributor. But, everybody was like, “You kicked her ass.” I used humor, and she didn’t know what to do. That’s what I feel like the difference is between their side and our side–they’re so mean! They name call–like the dig she made toward Hillary regarding her marriage.

 

AE: It’s ridiculous jabs.

SM: It’s a snotty, bitchy thing to say. Really? Hillary’s on her first marriage.

 

AE: It’s not presenting yourself in an intelligent way whenever you speak like that about other women.

SM: Yeah, she’s a mean girl. She got caught on tape making fun of Barbara Boxer’s hair. It’s seriously like the movie Mean Girls. Do you have a burn book on Hillary? But, yeah, that’s the only way I’ve ever known to deal with things like that–with humor. You get away with a lot more. People don’t see it coming. You can admire her accomplishments, but what makes you qualified to be president? You ran a company into the ground; you got fired. What makes you think you’re so much better than Hillary who’s had a lifetime of experience and success?

 

AE: Tell me about the upcoming Sexy Liberal tour.

SM: I just love it! I get to tell fart jokes with my best friends. What’s not great about that? The tour was a phenomenon. It sort of happened organically. John Fugelsang, Hal Sparks, and Aisha Tyler joined on some dates. And Carlos Alazraqui and Frangela will do the first date with us. We have all kinds of people that want to join. It was an accident. We didn’t really plan it. It started in Madison because we wanted to help the workers fighting against Scott Walker and the other Republicans for all the union bashing. We give money usually to a different cause in every city–Planned Parenthood, whatever the cause is in that area. It just became this amazing experience where people went to be together in a like minded community. The comedians are great, but we also do Q&A with the audience, we do panels. It changes in every city because it’s topical. We do new material geared toward whatever market we’re in. It’s a whole different show every time. We’ve been doing it for three years and it was the number one tour in the country. We sold out the Pantages, the Beacon, the Chicago Theater. It just took off. 

Our album, Best of Sexy Liberal, was the number one comedy album. Billboard called us and they were like, “Who are you guys? You don’t have a record company, you don’t have a publicist.” Since then, my Happy Hour Volume 1 and Happy Hour Volume 2 have also been the number one comedy albums in the country. Our audience is just amazing. Clearly, I don’t have the number of stations that Rush Limbaugh or any of these right wingers do. Our audience is just very loyal and they’re amazing.

stephtour 

It was exhausting, you can imagine–in addition to doing morning drive radio. We were doing three weekends a month. I was flying across the country doing two shows a weekend, flying back and getting up early in the morning. I was about to end up in the hospital and so we stopped and took a couple of years off. I just needed a break. But, there was such a demand for it–particularly in an election year. I didn’t want to do the same amount. I’ve agreed to one a month; I just can’t go at the same pace as we did before. But, for election year, I’ll do it. So, we’re just starting back where it began in Madison, Wisconsin February 26th and 27th and we’ll be adding dates as we go.

 

Stephanie’s Sexy Liberal Tour opens in Madison, Wisconsin February 26Sexy Liberal: Of Me I Sing is available on eBook now and in print soon. You can listen to Stephanie’s progressive radio show live on Sirius XM Progress as well as various local affiliates, or streaming on Progressive Voices via TunedIn and Premium On-Demand Subscription Podcasts. Stephanie’s Happy Hour podcasts can be purchased on iTunes and Google Play.

Follow Emily:@EmilyAMcGaughy

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