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The land of abstinence and unicorns

Lizz Winstead stands up for Planned Parenthood


  • Mindy Tucker


Lizz Winstead
8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14
The Abbey Orlando

Lizz Winstead is hilariously pissed off. When we reached The Daily Show co-creator and Air America radio network co-founder by phone, she was percolating over an article she had just read about Sarah Palin and how women should be happy that the non-nominee in this year’s presidential stakes had educated an entire gender in the art of self-promotion. “It’s so gross. I can’t even believe that some woman thought this was a good idea, that self-promotion is above all else, and if you’re not doing that, that’s basically: we should all take a page,” she says. “Oh my God, it’s so crazy.”

Winstead, who is crazy funny, brings her “Planned Parenthood, I’m Here for You!” one-woman comedy conversation to Orlando this week. It’s part of a fundraising jag for the organization that she was inspired to undertake after getting fed up with the fact that, despite a recessionary crisis, Republicans have continued to hammer down on reproductive freedom and other social issues. Last month, U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Ocala, called for an audit of Planned Parenthood’s finances. Just last week, Florida Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, introduced an omnibus anti-choice bill picking up the pieces from this year’s record 18 abortion challenges in the legislature. Winstead, who says she is thrilled at the prospect of visiting Orlando’s own The Holy Land Experience, couldn’t have picked a better state to laugh at ... and laugh with.

Orlando Weekly: I’m trying to imagine this as a sort of old-time USO extravaganza for the soldiers in a hidden war. What artillery will you be bringing to Orlando?

Lizz Winstead: It is a hidden war. Well, I’m hopefully going to bring some catharsis to the crazy world that we’re all living in. I’m actually surprised when I look into my audiences that I don’t just see a bunch of purple bruises on foreheads from people bashing their heads against their desks after reading what’s out there. So, I will do my standup show. I’ll be talking about all of the current things that are going on in the news, from soup to nuts: from the GOP candidates, to the assault on reproductive health, to the darling [Florida Gov.] Rick Scott. All the drug addicts who are going on welfare and the voter suppression – you guys have so much going with him that I’m going to have to make sure I get to the other stuff.

After I do my standup, I read an essay from my upcoming book that talks about my relationship with Planned Parenthood and why it meant so much to me and how they really helped me out in a time that was very important to me. [Winstead is saving the details of that relationship for the show.]

So this is comedy with a goal?

There are a couple of goals. One is to raise some dough. The second is to have women start talking about Planned Parenthood in the way that we talk about LensCrafters, you know? Women go there. One in four women have had a relationship with Planned Parenthood, whether getting a breast exam or a cancer screening, a pap smear, or even the dirty word: had to terminate a pregnancy or have an abortion. For women to be able to say, ‘Planned Parenthood has been part of my life. I want to be your advocate so that you can continue to go about the work you do, which is to provide health care for women.’

That’s not what we’re being told these days. ‘Planned Parenthood is going to eat your baby!’ sounds more engaging, especially if you’re in search of a political wedge.

That’s completely right, and the misnomers that are just put out there and laid out there as facts. The fact that people still think tax dollars pay for people to make their own private choice to have an abortion. They still believe that’s true when it isn’t. And I really don’t understand how you even get a seat at the table when you say you want to reduce the number of abortions, and you say that the way to do that is to remove all access to birth control. I mean, I don’t know what world they live in, where there’s unicorns and abstinence, but in this economy preaching abstinence is a joke. The only thing we can afford to do now is have sex.

That magical world of unicorns and abstinence is Florida, Lizz.

Pretty soon, you won’t even be able to exfoliate in Florida.

Have you encountered any protests on this tour?

I have. In Michigan, there were more than 200 protestors; in Frederick, Md., we had about 30. Then in Boston we had a lone scary guy walking back and forth and chanting and sort of being bizarre. And that guy was almost the scariest of all. You know, they’re just screaming. It’s interesting: In Michigan they were holding up signs saying, ‘Abortion’s not funny.’ And it’s like, right. No one is saying it is. I’m doing what I do to raise money. And second of all, then they broke out into a flash mob and blasted “Bohemian Rhapsody” and started dancing. So I’m like, OK, abortion’s not funny, but it’s easy to dance to? I don’t even understand! Their tactics are very suspect. Their assault is very real.


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