What contacts with these people have you had?
I've had a few conversations online, but I'm lucky not to live in an area where the first thing people ask is, "What church do you go to?" Along the way, though, I've picked up an idea of how they think and the arguments they use, which is useful to me. And of course I acknowledge that not all Christians, even fundamentalists, believe the things my character says -- but some do, so those are the ones I'm going after.
What do you think about Obama professing his Christianity time and again during the campaign? And if there was an element of pragmatism to him doing that, what does that say about political processes in America?
He's a smart guy and I don't know what really goes on in his head, but I see it as largely pragmatic. At least I hope so. He's trying to be inclusive and bring people together. As much as I'd love for him to say, "Don't bother praying for the economy," that isn't going to get us anywhere, really. Of course, I was thrilled that he mentioned nonbelievers in his inaugural speech. That was a huge leap forward for my people -- to actually be recognized. I think the last time a president talked about nonbelievers was when George Bush Sr. asserted that they shouldn't be considered U.S. citizens.
On "The Daily Show" recently, a guest was asked to order groups of people in terms of when a member would reach the White House -- blacks, Hispanics, Jews, women, atheists, gays, the disabled. He put atheist last. We have a long way to go.
Who do you find funny?
My favorite comedian is Bill Maher. I've seen almost every episode of "Politically Incorrect" or "Real Time" since the mid-1990s. I can't think of a better way to spend an hour than watching his standup act. Stephen Colbert is another huge favorite; when I tape my videos I have to make a concerted effort not to copy his delivery. Demitiri Martin, who has a new show on Comedy Central, is hilarious. ("I don't think diving is a real sport. It's pretty much just showing off while you fall.") Other favorites include Jerry Seinfeld, Garry Shandling, Norm Macdonald, Chris Rock, David Cross, Louis C.K., and Dave Attell.
Have you ever played the character in public?
No. I don't know if I could pull it off, because I don't have any improv experience. My videos are heavily scripted. I do want to try my hand at standup comedy, but that won't be in character.
You occasionally have special effects and quite sophisticated editing. Is it all self-financed?
I've been self-employed since 2003, and one of my gigs is video production and animation for a major phone company. If you've been to a concert and seen videos promoting music-related phone features on monitors along the concourse, I might have produced them. I've gotten pretty good at Adobe After Effects, which certainly comes in handy for Edward Current the comedian.
For running this website I have had a lot of hate mail including one person who seems to think that a flying squirrel will one day murder me. Given the nature of what you do, do you get some bizarre emails? Any funny ones?
I don't know if this counts, but in a recent video I brought up alternative 9/11 conspiracy theories, and that got kind of interesting. There's a little bit of paranoia there. I learned that the more moderate "Truthers" (the ones who merely believe that the Twin Towers were brought down by explosives) think that the more radical ones (those who believe the jets were fake and/or remote-controlled) are crazy. Who'd have thought? The moderate ones think the radical ones are "agents provocateur" who are hired by the conspiring agencies to make the whole movement look crazy. It's crazy.
Aside from that, I don't get a lot of bizarre stuff. Typically it's just: "I'll pray for you," "Why are you so hateful," "You'll find out about Hell someday." Christians tend to be pretty polite, even if they're angered. Atheists -- the ones who don't get the joke -- can be extremely rude and abusive. I've gotten numerous (not serious) death threats from atheists, but maybe just one or two creepy messages from Christians. ("You *will* stop making your videos very soon, trust me.")
Looking from outside it often seems like the USA is a loony bin. Is it?
No, it's a bin with a diverse mixture of people. The loonies are only the ones you hear the loudest. Actually, I take that back. It's kind of a loony bin.