Radio-show host Stephanie Miller continues to mix comedy with politics and these days there's plenty of material.
The daughter of U.S. Rep. William E. Miller, she started performing sketch comedy in high school. She worked comedy clubs while being on the radio in the '80s and '90s. Miller hosted her own late-night television talk show and then several other shows followed, including I've Got a Secret for the Oxygen Channel.
This year, her radio audience has grown to around 6 million weekly listeners. In 2010 Miller came out publicly on her radio show, saying, "I've reached my personal tipping point to say I am a gay woman."
She is started taking her satire on the road with Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour in 2011 then changed the name after Donald Trump was elected. It inspired a comedy album Stephanie Miller's Sexy Liberal Tour, Vol. 1 and it reached number one on the charts for iTunes, Amazon.com, and Billboard.
Miller talked the current cast and that state of the world by phone before arriving in Chicago.
Windy City Times: Let's first get to know you.
Stephanie Miller: How romantic!
WCT: You were born in Washington, D.C.?
SM: Yes and I grew up in Buffalo, New York. We moved there when I was three. I don't remember Washington.
WCT: I was thinking about all the politics and being born into it.
SM: My dad was a congressman and ran for vice president so that is why I was born in Washington. I was only 3 when he ran in 1964.
WCT: How many years have you been on the radio?
SM: About 1,000! No, more like close to 30 years. I always say, "Radio is when you go when all of your other dreams have died."
WCT: I just started doing radio and I like it.
SM: I love it. It actually is my passion. I wanted to be Carol Burnett so that is what my dream was. I did get to meet her and she thought I was 35 years old so I will love her forever for that. I told her I wanted to be her and she called me the Carol Burnett of radio. I cried!
WCT: Talk about the Sexy Liberal Resistance Tour.
SM: It is like the Mafia. Just when I thought I was out they pulled me in again. We thought we would be done. It was great fun. We were playing our last show in Washington that we thought would be Hilary's inauguration. It ended up being the day of the women's march. That is where the name came from.
It is selling out again, but it is amazing what I am seeing this time. It is not just a comedy show. People come up to us crying afterward because they finally feel like they are not the only ones going insane! It is a national trauma, this presidency, however long it lasts. It is a solidarity tour with so much love. It is like a support group. We joke that they aren't even going to see us anymore, but to be with each other. People make real friends there.
The show is completely different, not only from two years ago, but from last month. It changes so much from each news cycle and the incessant tweeting. It is exhausting.
I think this has become a way for people to process things in a way that empowers them and makes them feel better.
WCT: Who is on the tour with you?
SM: This time it is Frangela, who started in Second City. It makes Chicago a cool date for us. It is Frances Callier's hometown. I did radio and have lived there before as well.
People tweet that even though they have seen the show ten times this is the best version they have seen. Frangela is so amazing about racial issues and we are encountering so much of that because of Trump. John Fugelsang is brilliant about moral values and the bible. It is a strong set of voices we have put together. It is a primal scream of what is happening in America. We are having a ball.
WCT: The NFL must be the new topic.
SM: My first 10 minutes are about taking the knee to the anthem, and a one-finger salute to our commander in chief.
WCT: What do you recommend in dealing with unsexy conservatives?
SM: You have to laugh or you will cry all day. This whole tour is fight racism, sexism, and homophobia. This party has gotten so insane and so extreme. They have sold their soul to a reality show clown that has sold his soul to Russia. It is almost too much to take in every day.
We all have PTSD from our phone alerts!
WCT: Were people supportive when you came out of the closet?
SM: Yes. Right after I came out, a whole family came up to me at an event in Seattle. They were all crying and said I gave their sixteen year old the courage to come out to them.
My program director said, "Why did you think you being with hot women was going to turn off male listeners?" I think it made it more powerful when people come out that don't fit into a certain stereotype. That is why we have moved gay rights forward so quickly. It is people that they know and can relate to. It is their favorite radio host, football player, or country singer.
Not all Republicans are racists but pretty much all racists vote Republican, and the same thing with all homophobes. Some Republicans have spoken out in favor of gay rights, so it is not all of thembut the fight is not over.
With coming out I knew I couldn't just cheer on the sidelines as a supporter. I had to get down in the field!
Look for Miller and more on the Main Stage at Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave., on Saturday, Oct. 14. For tickets, visit AthenaeumTheatre.org or call 773-935-6875.