Zach Galifianakis may play the underdog challenger in Jay Roach's The Campaign, a zany when not brutally funny satire about US politics. But when he sits down for a little back and forth banter, the jolly gent with an impressive collection of carefully chosen comical one liners, just seems to take over the room by storm. And Zach did not mince words when tearing into the dismal state of affairs that characterizes US elections, though never quite losing his biting sense of humour at the same time. With the addition of a few daffy detours now and then during this exchange about the movie, including a comparison of dinosaurs to Greeks, the ideology of mall rats or lack of it, and an impulse to try out a couple of variations of his own name along the way.
Congratulations on your cringe-inducing depiction of American politicians. But do you think you weren't harsh enough, when it comes to our current crop of politicians?
ZACH GALIFIANAKIS: I think you're right, they do deserve to be beaten up. A lot. I don't know if this movie is the format to do it. But, yes. I agree with you.
What was your favorite ridiculous thing about US politics in this movie?
ZG: Um, I liked watching the debates, and I liked when the debates get a little dumb. And the crowd gets a little dumb.
And I like in this movie that the crowds just get as ridiculous as the candidates during the debates. I've always thought that mass thinking is kind of funny.
And it's funny how we as a society, can be so manipulated by the media. And get behind things without giving it a ton of thought. I think that's really funny.
Zach - is it 'Zak' or 'Zatch'?
Okay, how come you always seem to be doing the same character? And did you stick any known politicians into the character?
ZG: I have been doing this character since high school. But in high school, he was called the effeminate racist! And it was a character I would perform for my dad.
And through the years, I just kind of did it, at clubs here and there. And then it got to be in a movie with Will Ferrell! So that's pretty exciting.
But as far as drawing on political figures, not really. He didn't need to draw on any, because he didn't know what he was doing in the first place. So the more naive he was, the better, I think.
Do you feel that the bad stuff about politicians in the movie will make people wake up about the questionable things that are going on in politics in this country?
ZG: No, never! It was a nice run, this country! We tried! But I don't know if seventeen years olds pay attention to this kind of thing.
And that would be nice, if it caused a conversation between, you know, mall rats. Who don't usually talk politics, That would be nice. Yeah!
How do two such funny guys like you and Will work together, without the temptation to upstage one another?
ZG: Unfortunately, we share the same sense of humour. That of four year old children!
ZG: I just changed it back. To Zaque!
Well, what would your candidate have done to capture the Latino vote in South Carolina, which is now an increasing part of that population there?ZG: Unfortunately, Marty Huggins has never spoken to a Hispanic person. So he'd have to have somebody to tell him how to handle that situation.
Have you ever been involved in politics?
ZG: I was a volunteer for the Michael Dukakis campaign, with my brother. And we called up people in North Carolina.
And I would say, my name is Zach Galifianakis, and I'm calling about Michael Dukakis. And it sounded like a sentence about two dinosaurs!
What does this movie mean to you, about the state of politics in America today? And more important, what can be done about it?
ZG: That's a tough one! Well, I think if people are laughing at the movie and they kind of feel what we were going for - and that they see that the heightened reality we've come up with is not the reality - I think that's kind of sad. But funny!
And as far as what we could do about politics, I think the money in politics is the problem. And that's not a left or right thing to me.
I just think that money pollutes the process. And I think we're trying to say that a little bit.
How about the sort of people drawn to politics, how do you see that making things worse?
ZG: It seems like there's a lot of sociopaths right now, who are in office.
Did you draw on any of your own experiences, growing up around politics in North Carolina? And your own Uncle Nick who was a Congressman?
ZG: Well, my uncle was a Congressman, and then he ran for the Senate against Jesse Helms in North Carolina. And that race is actually studied in political sciences classes.
Because it was one of the first of the really heavy modern mudslinging. And using something similar to race baiting.
Because Jesse Helms was losing in 1972 to my uncle. Who had my same last name, and dark skin.
And the last two weeks of the election, Jesse Helms came out with a slogan that said, vote for Jesse. He's one of us. And it changed everything.
So I grew up listening to all this stuff. And yeah, I kinda drew on that a little bit. Just to hear my uncle tell me stories. And about the dirty politics of it all.
If you weren't a movie star and took a government job instead, what would be your career choice?
ZG: Um, for me it's really important for people to like me. So probably the Department of Motor Vehicles!
What's the status right now, of your playing Ignatius Reilly in A Confederacy Of Dunces, especially given the fact that your Campaign co-star Will was up for the role at one point?
ZG: They just didn't want Will! Other than that, I don't have any information.
Is the book a favourite of yours?
Z: Oh, I don't know how to read! No, I enjoyed that book very much. Yes. But I start Anchorman 2 in October!
What's the point of this movie blasting US politics?
ZG: To congratulate Congress, on doing such a wonderful job! /Viva Press