Film Courage: Why do you write? Josh Healey, Writer/Producer/Comedian – The
North Pole Show: Why do I write? Ooohhh…you’re asking the big questions. I write because I think otherwise I would
go crazy (or crazier than I already am). Film Courage: It’s a good crazy. Josh: Yes, it’s a good crazy (mostly). Writing is a beautiful and also masochistic
sport that like I love writing but it’s…it’s…let’s talk about the good stuff. I mean I write because I’ve got something
to say. I write because there are things that I want
to see that are different in the world. There’s things, there are characters, there’s
people that I know and love whose stories deserve to be told, whose aren’t told in
the mainstream media or Hollywood or even just the local press. It’s like whose story is told, how is it
told, who are the heroes and s-heroes, who are the villains. I just don’t feel…I want to complicate
the narrative. I want to show a different perspective and
I also want to have some fun. So for me writing is the way to be both as
serious or as ridiculous as I am on a given day. And I want to show the breadth of who we are
as people and I want to show you know there’s a quote by one of my heroes Bertolt Brecht,
an old German, socialist, playwright and poet and he said “Art is not a mirror to hold
up to society but a hammer with which to shape it.” And so for me writing, filmmaking (all of
these things) are a way to not just provoke people’s ideas but to show a different idea
of what is possible. And in this country where we are so isolated
or so individualistic, we’re so divided and put up against each other where all of
the struggles of American government, political corruption, racism (go down the list) let’s
use art to show something different. And not to ignore the pain put to name the
reality of this, these are the problems that are affecting people’s daily lives, but
what could it look like if it was something a little different. So art and writing is about that radical imagination. Film Courage: Have you ever written something
whether it’s performance [spoken word] or a screenplay that it bothered someone and
they were very angry about it? Josh: Oh hell yeah! Film Courage: How does this make you feel? Josh: It feels like I’m doing my job. One of the main criteria…one of the main
signs of feedback that I’m doing my job right is the level of angry emails that I
get. If I’m not pissing someone off, I’m not
doing my job as a writer. If I’m not making you…if I’m not challenging
you…you know I want my art to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. So if people in power are tapping me on my
back (if I just have “yes-men” as you said) like “Oh, that’s good” then I
could just be making soda pop commercials but that’s not what I want to be doing. Yes, there are times…I’m a Jewish writer
who writes about Israel and Palestine sometimes. I can be a little controversial. I’m a white guy who talks about race and
white privilege. Yeah…sometimes people have some feelings
about that. I work with a multi-racial team of writers
in Oakland [San Francisco Bay Area], even in the writer’s room we challenge each other. Sometimes we’re not sure if they’re saying
what they want to say. Am I speaking on behalf of someone else? Are you saying what is a real representation
or is that a stereotype? So the first thing I feel like is in the writer’s
room is even before the writer’s room, am I challenging myself? If I’m not challenged or I’m not surprised
or if I’m not in a new place by the end of the writing by the end of the writing that
I was at the start then I haven’t done my own job to myself. And so I feel like that’s…you’ve got
to end somewhere new. Film Courage: Has anyone ever said can you
tone it down? What is your response to this? Josh: Um…you know that great classic movie
THIS IS SPINAL TAP? I turn it to 11. We turn it up. We don’t have time to tone it down. There’s too much false politeness. There’s too much trying to make everyone…it’s
not that I want to stir controversy for the sake of controversy. I don’t want just to offend you or upset
you for the sake of reaction. The idea is can we look at some new perspectives? The idea is no matter where you stand we all
know that there are some things that are wiped between the rug (wiped under the rug). There are some things that are not talked
about that need to be talked about. If art and film and writing isn’t the place,
then where is the place to do that?