The NRA had its convention right after the school massacre n Uvalde, Texas. At the event, a prankster named Jason Selvig took the opportunity to make a short speech that was ostensibly praising NRA head Wayne LaPierre but was actually a slap at their absurd responses to the massive gun violence in this country. The satire was subtle enough that he was allowed to speak uninterrupted for two minutes and was even applauded by some in the audience but the internet knows satire when it sees it and it has gained wide circulation, with 10 million views on Twitter alone.
Selvig and Davram Stiefler are comedians who go by the name The Good Liars.
They became friends playing basketball together before conducting their first joint project, during Occupy Wall Street. Selvig and Stiefler posed as bankers, telling the media they represented the “Occupy Occupy Wall Street” movement and were proud to be part of the 1%. Speaking to protesters while wearing “thrift store suits”, they would lament their plight: “‘We’re gonna have to stop doing so much cocaine if we can’t afford it any more because you guys are out here,’” Stiefler recalls saying. “Kind of, like, over-the-top stuff that ended up being taken seriously.”
They were surprised when actual bankers fell for the joke and joined them. “We sold merch, like to be funny – we thought we would sell zero of them. But we sold a bunch of, like, $300 cufflinks that said ‘1%’ on them, you know, playing this part,” Stiefler says. “We were trying to be found out and we couldn’t.”
They have attended right wing rallies and interviewed political candidates and extremists.
At an event for Ted Cruz – a frequent target – Stiefler managed to get onstage next to the senator and ask the crowd: “What made everyone so weird and sad that they had to come out here?” During a moment of prayer with the then presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, Selvig asked God to “give the candidates the strength to know when to quit”.
That led to a new project a few years later: a film in which the pair, playing the roles of undecided and not-so-bright voters, pranked the 2016 presidential candidates. “That was kind of the beginning of the way we’re doing things now,” Stiefler says.
That film led to the Cruz exorcism attempt, as well as firing guns with Rick Santorum while in character as worshipful fans, calling him “Dad”, and a query to Marco Rubio about a girlfriend who had fallen for the candidate: “What can I do to win her back? You won her away from me.”
I liked the one where they attended a Trump rally and heckled him in a way that must have really hurt, yelling that he was being boring.
“We had kind of a plan going in for something to do,” Selvig says, but that changed when they arrived on the scene. “We didn’t realize that it was going to be so boring. He actually is very boring live, because he just repeats the same things you’ve heard over and over and over again.” It occurred to them that pointing that out would be “the most insulting thing” for Trump. “It would hurt his feelings the most. And that was important,” Selvig says.
It can be frightening, Stiefler says, particularly given all the concerns leading up to the key moment – getting through campaign security, occupying spaces where they aren’t supposed to be. “So yeah, our hearts are kind of beating and everything,” he says.
That certainly applied to Selvig’s NRA speech, which went on for two minutes without interruption. “I didn’t really have time to worry about it, because by the time I’d gotten the creative down, I was in front of the microphone speaking,” Selvig says.
But there was a very different reason to be fearful: everyone in that room, as Stiefler puts it, was “decidedly armed”.
In general, American politics is so depressing that it needs humor to be able to deal with it.
Lassi Hippeläinen says
A prank for a NRA meeting:
1. Turn off all lights.
2. Play some gunshots through the sound system.
Lets hear it for boring. My paternal grandmother’s maiden name was Boren, doing some geneolgy I found it sometimes spelled with an i, and sometimes with a g on the end. I sometimes think that would be a fun name to have.
John Morales says
I know PZ deprecates it, but I still like the concept of “Poe’s Law”.
Reginald Selkirk says
What if everyone in the organization is a Poe? You know there are people who belong to the Flat Earth Society as a laugh. There has been discussion of how many FBI informants were in the KKK, and how many crimes they allowed/committed while there. What if there is no there there? What if everyone is an infiltrator?