Lyrical parodist Randy Rainbow brings "Pink Glasses" tour to Eugene
Musical satirist and comedian Randy Rainbow brings his sassy wit to Eugene’s Hult Center tonight, where he’ll skewer all things political. KLCC’s Brian Bull talked to Rainbow as he prepared to fly out to the Pacific Northwest as part of his “Pink Glasses” tour.
Bull: Many presidents become reclusive after finishing their terms in the White House. But one of your favorite foils, Donald J. Trump, has remained very public and in the headlines pretty prominently -
Rainbow: I hadn’t heard.
Bull: (laughs) Is this the gift that keeps on giving for you, or are you suffering “Trump fatigue?”
Rainbow: Well, a little bit of both. Yeah, that’s sort of been the question people have been asking me since I took office in 2016 as “U.S. Secretary of Sassy Newsical Political Satire” -or whatever my title is - is what are you going to do when he’s no longer in office, and there’s no more news and nothing to make fun of? And as you just set up, I’m still waiting for that day to come. So yeah, it’s still a gift that keeps on giving, though I’m loathe to call it a “gift” really to anybody. But comedically, he’s certainly still providing some material.
Bull: As a journalist, I’m often called someone who speaks truth to power. But you – as a musical comedian and performer – have asserted that you also speak truth to power. What does satire have over news headlines in terms of edge or appeal, in your opinion?
Rainbow: Satire I think, is…it’s sort of the black light on the hotel comforter (Bull laughs) I’m nauseated saying, because I’m on the way to a hotel. But in some ways, comedians are able to shine a light on truth, more so than almost anybody else, even journalists. I’m not sure exactly what that is, you’ll have to talk to somebody smarter than I am, but certainly I do find in my professional time as a satirist and comedian, that there is always a direct link between comedy, satire in particular and the truth, the real truth of the matter. And I think people appreciate that about what I do.
Bull: Looking at the crowds who turn out for your shows, I think that’s a validation right there. What makes a politician a ripe target for your satire?
Rainbow: Well these days, I mean…it’s kind of a low bar. Because everyone is such a caricature these days, particularly -dare I say- on the right. These people like we’ve never seen before such as the Marjorie Taylor Greenes and the Lauren Boeberts and such, are really just…almost spoofs of themselves. So I think someone who’s unaware, who’s not very self-aware, and who says anything that comes into their mind, that’s certainly been great fodder for me, and I think that’s been the Trump model that a lot of these people are following it seems.
Bull: We have two years before the big 2024 presidential election. Any preview as to what kind of musical inspiration you’ll be drawing from that circus?
Rainbow: My goodness, well I really just try to be in the moment and sit in front of my TV and wait for Wolf Blitzer to deliver my musical marching orders. So there’s really no way of telling even two days in advance what’s going to be coming out of me. But I’m certain there will be plenty of material. I don’t know if I’m at liberty to discuss this with you, but why not? We are in very developmental stages of perhaps a Broadway project. And that’s really all I can say, except that I myself might be running for president in 2024.
Bull: Alright, I feel that I have an exclusive here!
Rainbow: You may have.
Bull: This week included National Coming Out Day (10/11). As an out and proudly gay performer, have you ever had anyone in your audience come and cite you as an inspiration? You’re very high profile and outspoken at a time when many people feel threatened to come out with their identity. Has anyone ever mentioned you as someone they look up to?
Rainbow: Well, they do really more often than I ever dreamed. And I’m so honored by it. I’m particularly honored by a lot of the parents in the audiences of my live shows who come with their kids who are often times dressed up as me, which is really just Amazon Prime Liberace, in case you’re looking for a Halloween costume. (Bull laughs) They’ve got the bow and sequins and the pink glasses, and a lot of the parents are kind enough to thank me for being a role model to their children. And that I tell them somehow that it’s okay to just be who they are. That’s not something I ever set out to do. Somewhere along the way I must’ve gotten a little brave and just started daring to be myself and being as flamboyant and outspoken as I want to be and singing the girls songs when I want to and wearing the lipstick, or the nail polish, or whatever. I suppose that is inspiring to some people, and if so, I’m thrilled to do it. I’m still trying to teach myself to be comfortable in my own skin every day, so if I can at all be an inspiration to others, that’s a thrill for me.
Bull: Randy Rainbow, I hope your visit to Eugene Oregon and the Hult Center is a thrill for you. Thank you for your time.
Rainbow: Can’t wait to get there, see you soon. Thank you so much!