Comic Consciousness: An Interview with Lee Camp
The body of our world is in a state of emergency and the heart and mind of that world is its socio-economic core; The United State of Unconsciousness. The defibrillators are broken out to shock our collective body out of the food coma brought on by endless days of Gold-Man-Sacks of McDistractions and War-Mart savings on Media Bites. The hands at the paddles have already sent a shock through the system and for a moment the body looks like maybe, just maybe it might come back to life. The stats go up and the monotone singing of the flat line stops, showing signs of a heartbeat, only to return to the ominous ring of a now too familiar worn out national anthem of death. But hope is still alive so long as there are hands at the paddles. All the while, the mind can still hear through the chatter of urgent cries of the befuddled and rushed repairers of this abused body to make out the clear sound of a man's voice saying, "Wake up! Wake up!" While our collective mind lazily tries to stay deep in the last anti-depressant laced dream it will ever dream of Prada-knockoff reality, the voice persists like an alarm clock on a Monday morning, "wake up you lazy schmuck!" Now the moment has come, that split second in time where the brain decides to shut off into oblivion, or the heart begins to beat again.
Comedian Lee Camp's hands are at the paddles; his voice screaming in desperation trying to bring the unconscious back into a moment of clarity. This is the state our nation, our world is in. Will our collective mind think again? Will our collective heart beat again? Only time will tell; now is the time that will tell.
I had a chance to catch up with Lee at Foley Square during the Occupy Wall Street anniversary concert. As I walked up to him, some guy exclaimed, "You're gonna be like the next George Carlin!" I butted in, "Wait, I thought he already was!" I had a chance to pull him aside and ask him a few questions on the state of the world today and what we can do to create real change.
Gabriel D. Roberts: Lee, thanks for taking the time to talk. When did you realize that you wanted to be a public speaker who confronted subjects like corporate greed and American complacence?
Lee Camp: I started doing stand-up when I was 18, so I guess that's when I decided I was a public speaker. I didn't start tackling the big issues like corporate greed until 6 or 7 years ago. It's kinda like those topics chose me. I didn't see any way around discussing them. They're too important.
Was there a time in your life when you were the person who was "asleep" as far as being conscious of the bigger events going on in the world? If so, what woke you up?
Yes, I was essentially asleep until I was probably 22 or 23. A lot of things woke me up -- one of them was just reading and educating myself. I didn't get a true education until after college. ...Damn, why did I spend all that money on it then?
Have you ever tried psychedelics and if so what, if any effect did it have on your perspective relating to the issues we face in the here and now?
I have not done psychedelics. Sorry to disappoint. I'm not even slightly opposed to them though. I just imagine I would like them way too much.
In all honesty, what do you think our chances are of really taking down the corporate plutocracy and replacing it with a truly fair and empathetic society? What do you envision it looking like if we did?
I think our chances of "taking it down" fully are slim. But the chances of altering it greatly and changing the way many of us behave and live is definitely possible. I think it will have to happen at some point or else we'll just die off. Right? There simply aren't enough resources for 6 people to have the same amount of wealth as the bottom 40% of the country -- 155 million people (as the Wal-Mart heirs do). And what do I imagine it looking like? Sunshine and lollipops and dancing unicorns. Isn't that how everyone pictures it?
Do you believe that you have a spiritual life and if so, what benefits do you gain from it? Conversely, if you are not, what benefit does that bring you?
I guess I wouldn't call myself spiritual. I don't believe in any spirits, except the kind you drink. So I guess in that manner, I'm spiritual. The benefit being an atheist gives me is true reason -- at least in my opinion. It's tough to really feel like you're getting to the bottom of things if you can also just go, "Well, it could be the fairytale guy in the sky. Maybe he caused it."
Do you have an opinion on the 2012 Mayan theme? What do you think is going to happen and what are the benefits, or dangers of the theme itself?
I like to say that the Mayans say the world ends in a few months and they might be right -- because another world is possible. Outside of that, I believe it's a fun little pile of horseshit.
What can we as individuals do to help others become conscious of themselves and the world around them? What can we take from this conversation today and use to break open their minds?
Hmmm, just talk to people. Make your opinions known. Don't keep them to yourself. Find the common ground and then use it to pull them in. I use laughter to trick people into listening. There are many different kinds of tricks. Find one and use it.
We know that our nation uses big catastrophes and acts of violence to galvanize the will of the nation, but what do we as peace seeking individuals do to bring a unity of vision for our country?
Geeze, if I had that answer then you should anoint me king right now. I think the mental awakening that's needed is a slow process, but it can happen. We've completely lost track of what matters in life. We have to regain that. Not that I always have it right, but at least we can try and then try to awaken others. And then, maybe, one day, perhaps, we'll be more excited to watch peace than we are to watch war.
Where can those reading this find out more about what you are doing?
My Moment of Clarity web series is free to watch at LeeCamp.net, and my podcast by the same name is free too. And I have a book by the same name -- which is not as free. I perform live almost every night. My twitter is @LeeCamp and my facebook is Facebook.com/LeeCampComedian. http://leecamp.net/contact/