When Lizz Winstead helped create The Daily Show, she was asked by an editor if she wanted to write a book. Winstead told the editor that she didn’t have any ideas.
The next year, she was asked again, and Winstead still didn’t want to write a book. Then the third year she was asked, still no idea, but that time she took the free lunch.
This back and forth lasted for eight years, but in 2006, around the time of her father’s death, she woke up one morning and decided that she had a story to tell.
Winstead, 50, read from her new book, Lizz Free or Die, to a packed house at The book is an account of how her liberal comedic sense developed in contrast to her harsh, conservative upbringing in Minnesota.
The excerpt she read was about Winstead’s relationship with her conservative father, and how even when her father didn’t agree with anything she said, he always defended her from people who attacked her beliefs.
“I raised you to have an opinion and I forgot to tell you it was supposed to be mine,” she said, imitating her dad’s gruff voice.
She learned to use humor as a political weapon.
When asked why she does what she does, Winstead said that her comedy got more political when the news media got worse and she felt the need to act like a “watchdog for the watchdog.”
“The point is calling out abuse in power, where ever that comes from. Then go ask them 'why are you settling for that?’ And then they can’t answer and just go run away.”
After the reading, Winstead took questions from the audience.
When asked why The Daily Show didn’t have very many woman writers. Winstead said that when she started the show, she received 150 writing submissions and only two were from woman “and they weren’t were funny.”
Then she described the difficulty of finding not just woman writers for the show, but political writers in general. Three million people may watch FOX News, she said, but 33 million watch shows like America's Got Talent.
Politics isn't as popular as the people who follow it believe, she said.
Then the same questioner asked why so many woman comediennes tell “peepee and poopie jokes.”
“Here is the thing, comedy is a very personal thing.” said Winstead. “I never say something isn’t funny. I say something isn’t funny to me. I think there are absolutely hilarious fart jokes and dick jokes and poopie-pee jokes. I have heard very funny versions of all those jokes. Does that mean that every joke that is a fart joke is funny? No. But are there funny ones, yeah there are.”
After the questions, Winstead signed books for a long line of excited fans. The store still has signed copies of the book while supplies last.