By Meg O’Neil
When veteran comedian Dennis Miller hits the stage at the Newport Yachting Center on July 14, it will be the first time that the five-time Emmy award winner and unabashed libertarian has brought his act to the City-by-the-Sea. That much we know for sure. Everything else will depend on the morning's headlines.
One of two big names coming to the Newport Summer Comedy Series over the weekend of July 14 and 15th (comedian Bill Burr is the other), expect Miller to come armed with his signature acerbic, razor sharp wit, and rapid-fire pop culture references.
Newport This Week recently caught up with Miller over the phone from the radio studio in Los Angeles, where he broadcasts his syndicated talk show to an audience of roughly 2.3 million listeners.
While his radio show is politically tinged, Miller said his onstage persona is more than just talking politics.
“I don’t want to turn into a pundit hectoring the whole time on stage,” he says. “I tend to do it right down the middle – talking about some politics but also harpooning the current events and the times we live in. My goal is to make the audience leave holding their stomachs from laughter.”
Perhaps best known for his time on Saturday Night Live as a cast member from 1985 – 1991, Miller has also hosted his own talk shows on HBO and CNBC, and can be seen as a regular political commentator on the Fox News Channel.
With an act that changes weekly based on the newsy fodder of the day, Miller says his ability to update his act is due large-in-part to his time spent behind the desk of Weekend Update on SNL. “That sketch was only 10 minutes long, but it was new every week,” he says, “so now that I’m doing a three-hour radio show, I’ve also learned how to shift conversations to a myriad of discussion topics.”
Known for going on rants and tangents, Miller says he leaves the act at the radio studio and on the stage. “If I brought my rants home, there’d be no home to come to,” he says. “I can’t imagine that my wife would be here for 25 years if I did. I used to bring them home, and my wife zoned me out to the point where she said I sounded like a pissed off Charlie Brown parent.”
With presidential elections coming up in November, part of Miller’s act will, undoubtedly, shift towards politics. When asked what potential running mate would be best for Mitt Romney from a comedian standpoint, Miller simply says, “Biden. I don’t care who is in the main seat, the president can change – whatever. I want Joe Biden in the two slot. He’s too perfect. He steps in shit more frequently than a blind man at Pamplona and I just want to be there with the pooper scooper. I look at his hair plugs and I think they’ve reached down into this scalp and have severed the cords to his brain.”
Following up Miller will be crowd favorite Bill Burr, who makes his triumphant return to the Yachting Center on Sunday, July 15.
Recently named “Comedian of the Year Award,” at the Boston Comedy Festival, Burr says he doesn’t want his current level of fame to change. “I’m at the perfect level in this business,” he says. “Enough people know me that I can make a great living, but the second the show’s over and I’m out of the theater, nobody knows who I am. If I could stay at this level for the rest of my career, I’d be elated.”
However, at the rate that Burr is adding accolades to his name, it’s likely his star will continue to rise. Burr received a standing ovation for his sold out show at Carnegie Hall back in November, a milestone for any comedian. He’s taped multiple hour-long specials on cable television, and was most recently seen on AMC’s Emmy-award winning show, Breaking Bad, where Burr plays a henchman named Kuby.
The chance to step offstage and in front of a camera in a dramatic role is something that Burr has wanted to do for years. “I’m a typical guy,” he says. “My favorite movies are the gangster types and if I could be the 12th or 15th name down the list in the credits, that’s exactly where I’d want to be. I like to be in the movies where some guns are being shot, and I get the crap beat out of me.”
In recent years, Burr has also risen to internet fame with a top-rated podcast that is available for download every Monday morning. Recorded in his Los Angeles home, Burr says recording the shows every Monday is simply fun, easy work: “I’m just sitting in my bedroom with a little mixer and microphone, just like Howard Hughes – minus all the money, that little pencil mustache, and I trim my nails.”
With a red-hot career, Burr jokes that he doesn’t have any more goals to attain, but again reiterates that fame sometimes comes with sacrifices. “When you first get in this business, everyone has the fantasy of accepting an Oscar as an actor and sitting on Oprah’s couch with her asking, ‘How did you become so goddamn interesting?’” That doesn’t always happen and there’s a price you pay as far as personal space and free time. But right now? I’m at the perfect place. Everybody should have a cult following. It’s great.”
The comedy starts at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are still available to both Miller and Burr’s shows and can be purchased online atwww.NewportComedy.com, www.TicketMaster.com, the Newport Yachting Center Box Office at 4 Commercial Wharf, or by calling (800)745-3000.