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Jimmy Tingle to perform at Winchester fundraiser on Friday, Oct. 18 – Benefits League of Women Voters of Winchester -Winchester Wicked Local, Sept. 16, 2013

Comedian Jimmy Tingle will be performing at the League of Women Voters of Winchester fundraiser at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 18 at the Next Door Theater for the Arts, 40 Cross St., Winchester.
Comedian Jimmy Tingle will be performing at the League of Women Voters of Winchester fundraiser at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 18 at the Next Door Theater for the Arts, 40 Cross St., Winchester.

Winchester, MA — Cambridge comedian Jimmy Tingle says he has a simple plan to save energy and keep traffic moving: windmills on traffic lights to generate enough power to run the lights. The idea, he admits, is not without its critics. “[They say] what happens if one day the wind doesn’t blow? And I explain to them [then] you don’t have to stop,” Tingle says. “Do you know how much gasoline we waste waiting for those lights to change?”

Tingle will headline a fundraiser next month at Winchester’s Next Door Theater for the Arts to benefit the League of Women Voters of Winchester. He sat down with the Star recently to talk about humor in politics, the people at Harvard, and what keeps him from packing up for Los Angeles.

Can you give us a taste of your appearance at next month’s fundraiser?

We’ll do material that is topical, it will be funny, you can laugh at it no matter what side of the political aisle you’re on… It will be relevant to what’s going on in the world in hopefully a way that will make people laugh and think maybe a little bit and hopefully feel better when they leave. Enough of the doom and gloom, do you know what I’m saying?

You’re the founder of the Humor for Humanity party. Is there enough humor in politics?

There’s inadvertent humor. It’s not intentional, you know what I mean? It’s often coming at the candidates or at the politicians. But I don’t think there’s a lot – except for nights like the White House Correspondents’ Dinner is really funny, and when they give President Obama a script, or when he and McCain did the Al Smith dinner when he was running. Hilarious… When they do those type of things that are deliberate, they’re hilarious, and they really resonate with the audience: The audience loves to see them on stage, both parties laughing with each other, and at each other and at themselves at the same time.

So I don’t think there’s enough of that, but there’s plenty of satirizing what’s going on, I think, coming from people like myself or the humor community… There’s not a lot coming from the candidates themselves, let’s put it that way, maybe because the stakes are so high and it’s a risk. You say something, it’s intended to be funny, someone gets offended or it’s taken out of context. That can happen sometimes — not with the Tingle Administration, but in general that can happen.

You went back to school a few years ago for a master’s from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Are there funny people at Harvard?

I have to tell you, I had so much fun going back to school. I was a nervous wreck… but I thoroughly enjoyed it. A lot of people have the idea that people at colleges are very aloof, but I found the opposite to be true. I found the people very down to earth, very bright, very committed to the improving the society, from whatever society, whatever country they came from… You had people going back to countries in Africa, in the Middle East, in Latin America, very challenging circumstances, and the people were all going back there to improve their societies in one form or another. And so it wasn’t that they were funny, but good and down to earth and very approachable. The professors as well.

Did your experience there change your comedy?

It broadened my outlook… You can go into these situations, you can be in a classroom, and you might have preconceived notions about the other political party that you don’t vote for, let’s say, or you know one sector of society… But when you get in the same room, and you’re in the same classroom, and people are meeting each other and working on projects together and they’re meeting each other as individuals, not titles — from where you worked at the White House or what governor you worked for or what congressperson you worked for — it’s amazing how barriers are broken down and relationships are formed… For me, I felt much more positive and hopeful.

How would you characterize politics in Massachusetts?

I think we’re lucky in Massachusetts. We have really good leadership, I think, across the board. We’re a pretty fortunate state; even during the whole recession we came out pretty well. We have just a lot of natural resources, not only the coast and the land and our history of being one of the first states in the country, but also all the universities that sustain the state, so good times or bad times, we still have this anchor of academia… Not every state has that, so in that respect we’re pretty fortunate.. I like it here, that’s why I’m here. People say ‘why not L.A.?’ And I say no. Cambridge. God’s country.

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