When it comes to snarky comedy, Dennis Miller wrote the book. From the "Weekend Update" desk at "Saturday Night Live" to his "Miller Time" rants on "The O'Reilly Factor," Miller has shot more barbs out of his mouth than Katniss with her bow in the last two "Hunger Games" films combined. He even does it while maintaining a Rat Pack-like cool.
Miller, who brings his stand-up show to the Paramount Thursday, spoke with Newsday about turning 60, mixing politics with jokes and why he's tickled by Dana Carvey's impression of him.
How are you feeling about your landmark birthday?
Not reaching 60 is worse. You take it where you can get it, baby.
I guess I'm a little older, my fans would say wiser and my detractors would say stupider. It's either wisdom or early onset dementia. It all depends on what prism you're viewing it from.
What is the origin of your trademark pop-culture references?
It's my monkey trick, man. I have a reasonably deep draw and a nice retrieval system. I don't know where it comes from.
Does Dana Carvey's impression of you bother you?
Oh no, I was the one who said he should do it on-screen because he used to do it in the office. I said, "If I write something for 'Weekend Update' will you come up and do it?" I felt if you ridiculed yourself, it freed you to ridicule others. I always said Dana is the single funniest person who has ever been on "SNL," so I was flattered by it.
Is it hard balancing your political commentary career with your stand-up comedy?
When I do my show I'm trying to get laughs, not make political points. But you do become known as a topical comedian. I consider myself a pragmatist. Socially I'm very liberal. I'm for gay marriage and all that stuff. I just want to kill the bad guys and keep half my money. I guess that's made me conservative.
How do you feel you rank among the "Weekend Update" anchors?
I did the best I could for six years. But my favorite would be Norm MacDonald. Norm saying, "Here's the fake news" was one of the funniest throwaways I've ever heard.
Do you think a Hillary Clinton/Chris Christie presidential race in 2016 would be good for comedy?
If that's who's going to run against each other then they better shoot that debate in IMAX. That's like the pantsuit vs. the track suit -- Tweedledee and Tweedledum.
You are famous for your rants. Have you received any repercussions from them?
I try to be ethical in my approach to them. I try not to be flippant unless I feel that somebody, in my eyes at least, deserves to be hammered and then let the chips fall.
If you had five minutes with President Obama what would you say to him?
I wouldn't take them. It's not because I hate the man. I find him boring. The whole thing about Obama I never got. I'll pass, he doesn't interest me.
You seem in your zone on your radio show, "The Dennis Miller Show." Is that where you are the most comfortable?
When I'm on the radio nobody's looking at me. I can be as non-ruffled as the kid on "Weekend Update." There's something to be said about not flinching, and on the radio I don't flinch.
Whenever you interview "SNL" cast members on your show there always seems to be a strong bond between you even if you didn't work with them. How do you explain that?
There's camaraderie in trench warfare. At "SNL" you're in the belly of the beast. You're in gladiator school there. You run into somebody else who's been to gladiator school there's a shorthand between you.
What is the difference between your live show with Bill O'Reilly vs. your solo stand-up show?
I don't swear when I'm out on the road with Bill. I'm Esther Williams water skiing behind the cigarette boat and he's the cigarette boat. They show up to see him and part of them me but I wouldn't do anything to offend his audience.
Will you be doing any more acting in your future?
Nah, it's too boring. You sit in a trailer for 16 hours a day and then you're in a sword fight with Corey Feldman at three in the morning. Check!
WHO Dennis Miller
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Thursday, The Paramount in Huntington
INFO $59.50-$99.50, 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com