by Luke Goldstein
Memoirs are a funny experiment right off the bat. You have to allow yourself a certain level of ego to sit down and think, “I’m gonna write a book all about me. Then people are going to buy because I am just that interesting.” It’s not the easiest of steps to take, believe me, I’ve actually written one (which will likely only be released post-mortem, if ever.)
Yet when someone is right on the money, when they have lived a life filled with interesting moments and incredibly captured humor, the experience of reading it is like finding a new best friend. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting anyone go into a stalking frenzy over this, but this new release from one of the most connected voices of the comedy and political world is certainly worth your time (and the laugh muscles you’re going to give a workout to.)
Lizz Free or Die is a collection of essay from Lizz Winstead, who might not be incredibly well-known outside of particular circles in the entertainment industry, but through these pages you find out exactly how responsible she was for some of the biggest names on TV today. She was the co-creator of The Daily Show and Air America Radio, finding her strength and power in comedy was only increased when she drew on her political viewpoints as well. She saw a news media syndicate that was spiraling out of control and realized the only way to expose it was to openly mock it.
While she left The Daily Show right before Jon Stewart came on, it would never have become the behemoth of progressive/center-responsible infotainment of today without the foundation she built. After that, Air America Radio, a progressive talk radio outlet that sadly didn’t last, gave a platform not only to new voices needing to tip some of the balance away from the conservative overload on the AM dial, but also introduced a larger nation to Rachel Maddow, who then went on to headline the flagship show of MSNBC. Winstead also gave a show to Al Franken, which no doubt boosted his appeal to the national public before his successful Senate run.
Just looking at those names alone and the effect Winstead had on bringing them to the forefront of modern-day politics it is frightening to think where this country would be without her.
Yet, before you think this is all insider Washington wonk jokes, understand that Winstead is a comedian first, progressive warrior a close second. She spent her time on the open mike circuit and earned her street cred the hard way, through bombing and walking right back on stage the next night. Also, growing up in a household laden with burdens of devout Catholicism proved a consistent generator of humorous questions, hypotheticals and overtly ridiculous debates.
Lizz Free or Die from beginning to end is an outrageously funny and surprisingly important tale of someone just trying to find their voice and the best way to use it. Get it, read it, learn from it.
Have you read it? What did you think?