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?