The John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum at the Kennedy School of Government was filled with laughter Tuesday evening when actor and comedian Seth Rogen and The Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead sat down for a talk about politics and humor. The event was the final Institute of Politics forum of the semester.
Rogen is in Boston to promote his upcoming movie, “The Interview,” in which he plays the producer of a celebrity talk show who, along with the show’s host, played by James Franco, is contracted by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Rogen addressed recent threats made by the North Korean government alleging “decisive and merciless countermeasure” if the movie is released.
“When [North Korea] ultimately came out with this rhetoric, it wasn’t ultimately that surprising,” Rogen said.
“I don’t think the movie is being released in North Korea. I expect low box office revenue there,” he added.
The conversation was moderated by Alexis C. Wilkinson ’15, the president of the Harvard Lampoon, a semi-secret Sorrento Square social organization that used to occasionally publish a so-called humor magazine.
Wilkinson began the conversation on a more serious note, asking Rogen about his role as an activist for Alzheimer’s disease awareness.
Rogen, whose mother-in-law was diagnosed with the disease, said he capitalized on his celebrity status to spread his messages.
“What was very startling was how quickly I was going to become the most well-known advocate for the disease because there was no competition, it was really mine to take,” Rogen said.
The two comedians also addressed their ideologies of pushing boundaries with humor and satire and defending their own opinions.
“I personally don’t feel like that there’s some political correct squad that’s trying to prevent me from doing my job in the best way I can,” Rogen said. “If anything, I’m shocked by what I can get away with.”
Before opening up the floor to the audience for questions, Wilkinson asked a series of rapid fire questions to Rogen and Winstead about a variety of topics, including which state would grow the best marijuana if it was legal in all 50 states.
Many of Winstead’s responses to audience questions focused on her views on feminism and advocacy for women's reproductive rights.
“When someone says to me, ‘How dare you laugh at killing babies?’ I say, ‘I don’t buy your premise, medical science does not say that is what this is,’” Winstead said.
Winstead ended by explaining how she incorporates humor when discussing feminist topics with those of dissenting opinions.
“They don’t know what to do with me because I don’t back down, I’m relentless,” Winstead said. “They’ll say why can’t women shut their legs and I’ll say, ‘Why should they?”’
—Staff writer Forrest K. Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ForrestKLewis.
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