Mixing news with a dose of comic commentary has paid off for The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart. A Brookings Institute survey recently noted that he is a news source more trusted by liberals and independents than MSNBC is. “The real power to influence the left resides on Comedy Central not MSNBC,” says Politics USA. But if you’re searching your television lineup for a conservative antidote to Stewart, the field is rather limited. There is late night Red Eye’s Greg Gutfeld, there is… actually, there’s just Gutfeld. Or there was until this month, when The Flipside with Michael Loftus debuted on television stations across the country.
A writer/producer on the successful sitcom Anger Management, comedian Michael Loftus was also a co-producer and executive story editor on the underappreciated NBC comedy Outsourced and a writer on The George Lopez Show. He has also been a regular on TruTV’s The Smoking Gun Presents…, and he created and starred in History Channel’s half-hour comedy American Wiseass, in which he presented a comic take on episodes from American history to a live studio audience. He also has his own comedy album and a one-hour Comedy Central special You’ve Changed.
Featuring some standup by Loftus, satirical segments, and interviews with lively, interesting personalities such as talk show host Larry Elder, openly conservative actress Janine Turner, and Michael Ramirez, Investor’s Business Daily political cartoonist (Loftus’ dream interview subjects include Al Franken, Nancy Pelosi and the Clintons), The Flipside with Michael Loftus takes a right-leaning perspective on the news, commentary, and pop culture. Loftus hopes to turn the weekly half-hour (there are four episodes so far) into a nightly political satire event along the lines of Stewart’s massively successful The Daily Show. “My producers are going to get mad at me for saying this,” he says, “but nobody is making fun of the insane liberals.”
The youngest of five from an Irish Catholic family in Columbus, Ohio, Loftus’ conservatism has been reinforced by his own parenthood. “It’s weird how when you have kids you start to think about bigger things. It’s definitely changed my comedy.” Now, Loftus say, “I’m living the American dream. I had a great-grandfather who came over to this country because he was starving to death in Ireland, and now I can be onstage talking about politics.”
Last week Loftus was game to answer a few questions for FrontPage:
Mark Tapson: Michael, it’s great to have you on FrontPage Mag, and great to have something like The Flipside out there for those of us hungry for an alternative to Jon Stewart. What are you trying to accomplish with the show, apart from fame and fortune?
Michael Loftus: Great question. I think there are millions of people who've been waiting for a show like this; so I guess that is what I'm really trying to do, provide an alternative. Most times when you turn on the TV and a conservative is talking, he's shaking his fist and freaking out. I thought it’d be a nice change if somebody would come on TV, talk about these issues and be funny.
MT: The Flipside isn’t so much about hammering progressives as it is poking fun at big government, which is pretty much a nonpartisan thing these days. You don’t shy away from sticking it to Republicans as well as Democrats. Would you call yourself a libertarian? Tea Partier?
ML: Great question. I shy away from any of those labels. I used to think of myself as an Independent until they started an actual Party. I would have a hard time keeping a straight face at any “Independent” meeting; it’s like when that elf dentist meets Rudolf for the first time in that Christmas special: “Let's be Independent together.”
MT: Have you always leaned right, or did you have a “Paul on the road to Damascus” moment?
ML: Great question – wow, three in a row, dude, you’re on a roll! At the very least I’ve always considered myself financially conservative. I started working at a very young age and for the longest time I wanted to know who FICA was and why they were taking all my money. Now that I’m older, I know who FICA is, but I’m still wondering why they’re taking all my money.
MT: What’s it like in the comedy circuit and working in television as a right-leaning comedian, in terms of the reaction from both audiences and other comedians?
ML: The beauty of working in comedy clubs and television is that funny always wins. Whether you personally agree or disagree with what someone’s saying, it’s hard to argue when everyone is laughing. Because in the end, funny is funny. I can have serious discussions with other comics over a cup of coffee after the show, but during the show all I wanna do is make people laugh. And that's the great balancing act of The Flipside, so it’s my hope that funny always wins the day.
(This article originally appeared here on FrontPage Mag, 10/3/14)