Currently in the middle of a two-month spoken-word tour of the U.S., punk rock icon Henry Rollins has got lots of material on a favorite theme, the absurdities of American politics.
"Guys like Trent Lott I wish for," he told The Oregonian. "There's 20 minutes (of stage material) right there. And Donald Rumsfeld! Talk about the great one-liners that guy comes up with! . . . I think the Bush administration is just wacky — and really, really dangerous."
The overall tone of Rollins' recent spoken-word performances is noticeably lighter than in the past, closer to conventional stand-up comedy than to the sometimes gut-wrenching storyteller he's been prior years, particularly when he used to end his shows by recalling the murder of his best friend.
"Mixing humor with non-humorous stuff is a way to keep the people with you longer," he says. "If you just preach stentorian stuff down onto them, you lose 'em after about 25 minutes. It's not hard for me to be really intense and heavy — that's my nature. But you don't want it to become this thing that's oppressive and people just want to get away from it after a while. You don't want the audience to close off. You want to keep them open and let that communication take place.
"I'm not dumbing down anything or holding back. You just have to be careful how you word things. It's not showbiz, it's more just stagecraft and a desire to be understood. It's a human relation thing."