Jon Lovitz spent much of George W. Bush’s presidency doing what nearly all of his peers did – making fun of the Commander in Chief.
And no one said a peep.
When the “Saturday Night Live” alum chided President Barack Obama for saying the rich don’t pay their fair share earlier this year, he ended up letting a security escort walk him to his car.
Lovitz tells Big Hollywood that his now infamous podcast rant against Obama’s class warfare rhetoric led to death threats left on the voice mail of his Universal City-based comedy club.
“I know where you eat,” one message warned.
The comedian, who owns the Jon Lovitz Comedy Club and Podcast Theatre, says he isn’t concerned about his safety. He is riled up, however, about the media, his fellow Democrats and why questioning the president’s policies means complete strangers now accuse him of being a racist.
The wide-ranging discussion with Big Hollywood also touched on his evolving views on business and the public’s reaction to his Obama critiques.
The real story, as Lovitz sees it, is how the press is going after comedians. He praised two conservative media outlets for their coverage of his Obama comments.
“Your site and Twitchy.com, they get the humor. The Huffington Post … their comedy guys have no sense of humor and their headlines are lying,” he says. The latter referenced Lovitz’s guest hosting gig for fellow “SNL” star Dennis Miller on the latter’s weekday radio program.
We never said we wished more comedians would mock Obama, but that’s the way The Huffington Post’s headline read, he explains.
Lovitz also got called a racist for critiquing the president, even though he’s never been associated publicly with any racially insensitive comments. It particularly galls him since one of his next projects is co-starring on “Mr. Box Office,” a new television series with a mostly black cast.
“I don’t see the president as black or white. He’ a man,” Lovitz says, adding he’s frustrated by his own party rushing to slap a racist label on him.
“What I find bizarre is how the quote liberals are bringing up race … saying, ‘shut the fuck up.’ I find them so close minded. I thought you were liberal,” he says. “You should be tolerant of everybody whether they agree with you or not.”
“They don’t understand irony and sarcasm. They take what [comedians] say literally … it’s ridiculous,” he says.
Lovitz hasn’t received any specific feedback, good or bad, from his fellow comedians after the fallout from his Obama comments.
“They’re not not supportive,” he says. The everyday people he meets had a more vocal reaction.
“I can’t tell you how many people came up and thanked me,” he says.
Lovitz isn’t wanting for work these days, and he says his recent publicity hasn’t hurt that. His current projects include the upcoming “Grown Ups 2,” the aforementioned sitcom, his comedy club and frequent stand-up appearances (he will appear Aug. 11 along with fellow “SNL” co-star Tim Meadows at the SRC Arena in Syracuse).
It’s his chores as a comedy club owner which have given him insight into the current economic situation. He routinely asks fellow business owners how they’re managing to make ends meet in this economy, and he usually gets a negative report back.
“I don’t think I really understood what the economy meant to the degree that I do now,” he says.
He’s not blaming Obama for that situation. He’s a registered Democrat, and his beef with the President doesn’t mirror what Miller says on his nationally syndicated radio show. Lovitz is more outraged by Obama’s soak the rich rhetoric, which he thinks is a cheap distraction from bigger issues.
More recently, he’s supplied sturdy supporting work in 2010′s “Casino Jack” and will voice Quasimodo in next month’s animated feature “Hotel Transylvania.”
Between acting gigs, Lovitz will keep on speaking what he sees as truth to power, no matter what the reaction may be.
“I meant what I said … I said what I said to make people laugh,” he says. “I expressed myself In a humorous way.”
“Sometimes,” he adds, “the best way to make ‘em laugh is to show ‘em how you honestly feel.”