Brian Firenzi is a screenwriter by day and comedy video maker by night. He wants his tombstone to read “Free Candy Inside.” He made the following video, “Sarah Palin for President 2012.”

12th Street: Whose voice is that in the video?

Brian Firenzi: It’s mine—trying to do my best Sam Elliot impersonation.

12th Street: Why did you make the video?

Brian Firenzi: It’s pretty clear to me that Palin has her eyes set on the presidency, so I asked myself what would her platform run on. What identity would they pick to shape her policies? The first thing that came to mind was the Mother Figure—a smug, traditionally above-reproach matriarch who is right when she’s wrong; the source of all your anger, happiness, sadness; and, as Freud would interject, pent-up sexual frustration. How are you going to reject Palin, really, when “she” spent eight hours in labor for you?

12th Street: What went into making it?

Brian Firenzi: It wasn’t difficult to come up with a series of short, metaphorical vignettes that didn’t actually involve Palin, yet would be (hypothetically) indicative of her strong will, homespun wisdom, and immovable sense of right and wrong as a mother. I guess you could say that by proxy, my ad inadvertently painted the Democratic Congress as a spoiled child in need of a good spanking—an image small-government conservatives probably think fondly of.

12th Street: Would you elaborate on what you mean by “spoiled” and “small-government conservatives”?

Brian Firenzi: By “small-government conservatives,” I refer to the section of people who think it’s the Democratic-controlled congress’ fault for getting us into this economic crisis—claiming Bush vocally pushed for reform over and over, blaming Pelosi, Herb & Marion Sandler, etc. By painting Palin as a Mother Figure in these ads, I think I’m making the Democrats look like children.

12th Street: Are they like children?

Brian Firenzi: No, I don’t think so. But if I were serious about these ads, I bet I might.

12th Street: What kind of response did you get?

Brian Firenzi: On YouTube, some of the subscribers that I already get from my 5-second Film Series generally liked the Palin ads, whereas, when it got featured on the prominent comedy website, the reaction was far more mixed and interesting.

12th Street: Will you do more if she runs in 2012?  And do you honestly think it will happen?

Brian Firenzi: I may do some more Palin 2012 ads if time on my other projects (and of course, work) permits. It all depends on if I stumble across a funny story or hook that would be great. I have this fantasy of Palin disappearing into the Alaskan wilderness after the elections and never returning, but that won’t be happening. More likely, she’ll remain a minor tabloid fixture, do some PR image reshaping and become a New York senator. And if I’m the only one who’s made a Sarah Palin parody video, I’m clearly living in an alternate dimension where nobody can tell what’s funny.

Brian Firenzi, 23, graduated from the University of Southern California for Screenwriting. He is the co-creator of, a short-form comedy website. Firenzi currently edits promos for daytime TV shows in Hollywood.


East Village comic and writer Chris Sifflet touches on the essentials, including politics, the future of crappy celebrities, Steve Fossett, and what it would be like if Sarah Palin didn’t look like Sarah Palin.

12th Street: At 12th Street we work to promote literature as an engine of democracy, with fiction, poetry, and non-fiction as “oil” to that engine. Where does stand-up comedy fit in?

Chris Sifflet: I heard Jerry Seinfeld talk, after George Carlin’s death, on Larry King. He was talking about politics and how comedians tell the truth, and he said “comedy is a little truth and a whole lot of lies.” I think now, especially in New York, comedy has kind of taken a shift. I only go for honesty. When I first started it wasn’t about that, now I’m totally honest, I talk about stuff that actually happens.

12th Street: So you swing more toward the non-fiction realm?

CS: Yeah definitely more toward non-fiction.

12th Street: Do you think stand-up fits in with poetry?

CS: I do think it fits in with poetry, I think it fits in with music too. Poetry and stand-up are very much aligned. The both can be improvised: poetry slams, things like that. It just depends on the comic.

12th Street: What would you be doing if you weren’t a comedian?

CS: I’d be a nurse. My mother was a nurse and my Dad’s a doctor. My parents would have conversations at the dinner table, you know, my Mom would be telling my Dad, “Oh yeah, I opened a man’s chest today and grabbed his heart and had to pump it, and then his eye starting spurtin’ blood, so I had to close that, but then his nose started bleeding so I had to close that.” So it was basically like a cartoon where she was plugging holes and blood would keep spraying out somewhere and it hit her face. That was, like, every conversation she’d talk about. Like removing light bulbs from people’s—

12th Street: Okay!

CS: And that was everyday, man. So that’s partly where my humor comes from. The very dark, graphic conversations my mother would have with my Dad. Strangely enough though my Dad’s afraid of blood.

12th Street: Your Dad’s a doctor—

CS: He faints when he sees blood.

12th Street: So what kind of medicine does he practice?

CS: Internal Medicine. (more…)