Original linkypoo: http://www.afterellen.com/content/2012/04/stephanie-miller-moving-tv-coming-out-and-her-craziest-callers
Stephanie Miller: Thank you!
SM: It’s good to do television at a point in your career where you’ve lost the will to live.
SM: Yeah. Honestly, I feel like it’s a great idea, because it’s really more of a fly-on-the-wall reality show. We’re really not trying to do a TV show. They really just said, “Hey, can we put cameras in your studio?” So we’re really in our house, which is great. We don’t feel like we’re trying to do a TV show, which I think is smart when you think about how we don’t have a budget to do the Today show. We can’t pretend we’re doing a television show. We’re doing a radio show.
SM: Oh, Good. I know – we keep getting reports of that! People are like, “Thanks a lot.”
SM: [Laughs] Right. It’s not every day I come into work and they say, “The White House called. They wanted to know if we have time for them today.” Ahhh, let me see if I can pencil them in.
SM: Oh, gosh. I think we all have our own tipping point, right? The funny thing for me is I was out for years to my family and friends; I just didn’t talk about it publicly. I didn’t ever hide or invent boyfriends or whatever. I just think I’ve always been a private person, and I just didn’t really — I think for many of us, you sort of don’t want to be defined that way. I’m sure Ellen went through that for years, where you don’t want to be defined by just one thing.
SM: [Laughs] That’s right.
SM: Oh, yeah. And in my case — for whatever reason — a lot of times, you don’t control your own marketing, and talk radio tends to skew male. My ads say “Making men rise in the morning,” because I have really great male numbers. But, you know, that’s sort of the way you’re marketed… I loved it when someone said to me, “Stephanie, what exactly did you think was going to turn men off about this?” [Laughs] Because a lot of people told me, “Your ratings have only gone up.” Because, you know, you say “gay,” they hear “three-way.”
SM: Honestly, in some ways… You know, you feel bad for people who have had negative repercussions, but I really haven’t. It’s been overwhelmingly positive and/or no big deal.
SM: I know. And you recognize that not everybody has that experience. Certainly some kids in Bible belt areas don’t feel safe. I work with The Trevor Project here [in Los Angeles], the suicide hotline for gay youths, and they counsel them, “Don’t come out unless you feel safe.” Because sadly, it’s still not safe in some areas of this country. I remember Chely Wright saying to me, “I did it for that teacher in Kansas who has to take Pepto Bismol every morning because she’s afraid she’s going to get outed and lose her job.”
SM: I pull it completely out of my ass. I can finally reveal the secret of talk radio.
SM: Oh, yeah.
SM: Well, I have to say, I have defended him to some degree, because, look: There but for the grace of God goes any of us. I mean, believe me: Right-wing groups can take ten seconds of my show and target my sponsors and my stations, do you know what I mean? That gets a little scary for anybody in the radio business. I think that’s why Bill Maher defended Rush, because look what happened to him. He said something and he lost a show.
SM: Yeah. One time. On stage. That’s what they do. They always draw these false equivalencies.
SM: [I wish you could hear how much her voice brightened here.] Yes!
SM: [Laughs] Well, she’s 17 years younger, so she’s in elder care essentially anyway. Sadly for her. No, it’s been great. She is, thank God, an early riser anyway. I keep saying that she’s not making me younger, I’m making her older. She – shockingly – goes to bed sometimes when I do. Not always. It depends if she has other stuff going on.
SM: Yes, but I was way too ugly to be used as a campaign prop like the Palin children. I looked like a wolf-child. You know, it’s funny: I wasn’t really political at all. I wanted to be Carol Burnett. And then all my dreams died, and this is how you end up when all your dreams have died: You end up in radio.
SM: Mine was just gradual over time. My dad died when I was 21, and I wasn’t even political then. I think so many people have made the point that this Republican party has moved so far to the right that I don’t think my dad or Goldwater would recognize it. I don’t think Reagan would recognize it.
SM: That’s because I’m related to and love many of them.
SM: Well, I think it’s the same thing we were talking about on the gay rights issue. You’ve got to humanize it. You know, people who go “Oh, I thought I hated gay people,” and then you realize that you love one because it’s your sister or your cousin. I think it’s the same thing with politics: When we talk to each other like human beings, I think we do better than when we’re just becoming a talking point for either side. Because I love and am related to Republicans, I don’t think of them as the enemy.
SM: I know, yeah. Except then that didn’t last very long, because then he offered to buy me a dog. And I said “I’m a liberal. We rescue dogs, you capitalist pig!” And then he threatened to buy it anyway. “Do not buy a dog!” Oy vey.
SM: Right. These people, “Small government, get the government out of your personal life.” Yeah, exactly.
SM: I don’t know. They seem so out of step in so many ways. It’s like it’s 1952 in the Republican field. And not just with gay rights, it’s women’s rights. Really? Are talking about contraception?
SM: The crazier the better! No — we actually love the right-wing callers that we can play with like cat toys. You can tell that they’re just doing the talking points that they heard on Rush or Hannity or whatever. That’s fun. That’s what’s fun about talk radio, and probably also seeing it on TV: It’s not one of these slick, over-produced morning TV shows, and you can tell. You don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t know who’s going to call or what they’re going to say. There’s an element of true spontaneity there that I think you don’t see in a lot of places.
SM: Right. Our favorite is John in Amherst, who called once and said the mortgage crisis was caused by [she takes on a Buffalo accent] “a room full of black guys.” You know, that flat, Buffalo A? “Obviously, a room full of black guys.”
SM: You can always tell, because they all say the same things. It’s hilarious, because you can tell they were told to call with these talking points, and we start to parrot them: “Hello, Stephanie. I am an independent small business owner. I like to listen to both sides.” Oh, God, please. I can hear the script in your hand.
SM: The difference is that I don’t think they let through many liberal calls if they can help it much on the right-wing shows. We’re happy to have them. Right-wingers go to the front of the line for us.
SM: Oh, God. That’s hard. You take so many calls every day — I can’t. Mama doesn’t like to play favorites with her crazy callers. I love all of them equally. Crazy bastards.
SM: Yes! Much to my complete shock and surprise, we have the number one comedy tour and the number one comedy album. It really started by accident, and it has just been — I don’t know, this is sort of a movement. This isn’t just me. It’s starting to feel like a real backlash against what’s been going on politically.
SM: I respect everybody’s time frame. That’s what I don’t like, is when people say, “Oh, why did you wait so long?” or “Why now?” I think that everybody has their own tipping point and a myriad of different reasons.