I was hoping Dennis Miller, former yackyackyack of the intellectual Left and current pucker-up to the Bush league, and who's coming to town to dry-run his HBO special, would say nasty, jackass things during our phone interview, about, I don't know, Iraqi babies burned to cinders, and I could flay him with my wit, which always comes after the fact (the French call the late comeback “staircase wit,” as in you think of it when you're already halfway down the stairs; Americans just call it “d'oh!”), but after-the-fact wit is fine when you're the one transcribing the interview.
But Miller had on his sexy morning voice, and he was thoughtful and not at all an asshole, and we talked—dialogued, even!—which makes things hard. Going into an interview with Dennis Miller, my biggest worry was that he would be completely charming and Hollywood schmooze me like I ain't never been.
And that's exactly what he did.
So now I totally like him. Whatever.
OC Weekly: What's the stupidest question you've had this morning?
Dennis Miller:None. I find journalists to be never-ending fonts of pith and knowledge.
Ooh, you're trying to charm me! What was the pithiest question you've had this morning?
Your first one.
Oh, Dennis Miller! What do you think of the new Supreme Court nomination?
I like guys whose kids look like squares. I like the cut of the guy's family. When someone says he's evil—when Chuck Schumer says he's evil—he doesn't look evil to me!
Some of his decisions, though, are really bizarre—I'm not even talking about the abortion ones, but letting the police strip-search a 10-year-old girl . . . I'm just a complete civil libertarian. I understood you were too.
I am. But you know, our borders are more porous than a colander in Pavarotti's kitchen. I think the Miers nomination was a question of trying to go from Yale to Yall, this man with privileged upbringing trying to look like a regular guy.
Okay, and that would be the first reference I don't understand. What's Yall?
Y'all, you all, down-home . . .
Oh, I was already thinking ahead to Saul of Tarsus or something.
That's the bonus I accrue after years of arcania.
I sent a note around the newsroom asking people what they'd like to ask you, and my boss went off. It was shocking. I'm going to be gentler, and just ask: after 9/11 it seemed like you and Bill Maher switched places. We're the typical paleoliberal alt.-weekly lefties, so all of a sudden you weren't funny to us, and for the first time ever, Bill Maher was. How do you do comedy if you're loyal to those in power?
It's inaccurate to say we switched places: Bill Maher was never a conservative; I was a liberal. When someone is presumptuous enough to presume I'm being disloyal to them when they've never met me, I say fuck them! After 9/11, I changed. If someone dislikes me for that, I hope they're vociferous about it so I know who to avoid. I don't go home at night and wish—what's your boss's name?
And wish Will liked me.
Are you in New York?
Where are you?
West of there.
In an undisclosed location?
I'm with Cheney in his bunker.
He's had a week, huh?
I think Cheney's okay, but Libby . . . He's in a Hellman's jar with all the other lightning bugs and only one hole to breathe through. If he did [out Valerie Plame/obstruct justice/commit perjury], he should do jail time.
Yeah, I would think for a guy who's pretty much focused on the war on terror, outing a CIA agent and subverting the war effort in a possibly treasonous manner would be frowned upon.
Exactly. If he did it, he should face jail time. People think I'm some John Birch Society guy. I'm not. But it seems odd to me that people assume the opinions you form when you're 18 will be with you on your deathbed. I remember that morning [9/11]. If we have to go kick Saddam's ass . . .
Hey, we were all for Afghanistan. Everybody was. There were likefour people who weren't. And it helped that Jay Leno's wife had been bitching about the Taliban for five years, so we all knew all about them, and that was a nice bonus.
Yeah, Mavis's done good work.
But Dennis Miller, we left Afghanistan unfinished so we could go to Iraq, and instead of making us safer, we just pissed off a billion people. You're smart enough to see that, aren't you?
Nope. I do know people on the Left say I'm not smart enough.
I hope you didn't think I was saying you weren't smart.
No, and I wasn't trying to prompt that from you.
Would you take the NFL gig back in a second?
No, too much travel. I cared for the booth, but I was talking about “Christo wrapping the Pont Neuf,” and people were saying I was trying to be too smart. Now I'm too stupid. If you think publicly voting for Bush was a good career move in Hollywood . . .
Do you regret that vote with theimplosion of ethics in the White House?
No. I stay low to the ground. I'm just enamored with the troops.
I am too, I go see 'em in this bar in San Juan Capistrano. But all my Marines have left me now. I'm Afghanistan! None of 'em call anymore . . .
You're always the wildest girl in the room at a Taliban party. Listen, I'm for gay marriage, I'm very public about it. I don't like abortion a lot of the time, but I am absolutely pro-choice. I'm really a civil libertarian. But [the Middle East] is going to play out over the next 50, 100 years. I'm convinced of it.
Who does the best impression of you?
Still Carvey. He doesn't even use words anymore, just “blackblackblack.” Calls it Morse Miller.
What do you talk about in your upcoming HBO special?
The gamut, as they say. I crack back on Bush in a few places—I'm with him on the war, but gay marriage, the Schiavo case . . .
That was a freak show, huh?
What I took away from Terri Schiavo is I no longer mumble around my wife.
DENNIS MILLER AT THE IRVINE IMPROV, 71 FORTUNE DR., STE. 841, IRVINE, (949) 854-5455. THURS.-SUN., NOV. 10-13. THURS., 8:30 P.M.; FRI., 8:30 N 10:30 P.M.; SAT., 7 N 9 P.M.; SUN., 7 P.M. $35.