Fox News stints boost career of comedian Jamie Lissow and move his humor to the right

‘Gutfeld!’ favorite, coming to Chicago for the 312 Comedy Festival, says his stand-up material ‘prioritizes laughs over politics.’

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Comedian Jamie Lissow appears often on the right-leaning comedy talk show “Gutfeld!”

Comedian Jamie Lissow appears often on the comedy talk show “Gutfeld!”

Fox News

Jamie Lissow spent over 20 years traveling the nation as a regular working comic, respected but admittedly not a big-name draw. But in the two years since he became a frequent guest on Fox News’ comedy talk show “Gutfeld!,” he’s been riding a wave of success that has seen him attract over 20 million viewers to his Drybar comedy special “Something Awesome.”

He’s performing two shows at the inaugural 312 Comedy Festival — Nov. 3 at Zanies Rosemont and Nov. 4 at Zanies’ Old Town location — and he’s thrilled to return to the Chicago area. For it was at a prior Zanies show that he first realized just how explosive an impact the talk show was having on his career.

“I’m very happy with my career, but I remember specifically shows at Zanies in Rosemont,” Lissow says. “... Every single seat was filled and when I walked in, everyone turned and looked at me and started yelling ‘Jamie’ and clapping and cheering my name.

Jamie Lissoe

JAMIE LISSOW
  • 7 p.m. Nov. 3, Zanies, 5437 Park Pl., Rosemont. $30-$35. zanies.com.
  • 4 p.m. Nov. 4 at Zanies, 1548 N. Wells St. $30. zanies.com.

The shows are part of the 312 Comedy Fest, beginning Friday and encompassing venues throughout Chicago and suburbs. Performers will include Nate Bargatze, Russell Peters, Michael Che, John Crist, Nicole Byer, Ari Shaffir, Jeff Ross, Craig Robinson and Hannibal Buress. Details: 312comedyfestival.com

“And I was like, ‘What is happening? I’m just me.’ It’s one of my best memories, of walking into a club and having the entire crowd there to see me. So I cannot wait to go. I’ve been dying to come back to Chicago. I’ve been very excited.”

Born and raised in Rochester, New York, Lissow says being a comedian was all he ever wanted to do with his life. He even recalls that he would act like a comedian as a child at Halloween, when other boys were pretending to be pirates and ninjas.

He got his start at Rochester’s Funny Bone comedy club, where he was “the fill-in guy” called upon to take the place of comedians who dropped out of shows at the last minute. He developed plenty of apolitical humor over the years, eventually mining his experiences as a divorced dad of three sons in Alaska with lots of observational humor.

When he’s not on the road, comedian Jamie Lissow lives in Alaska with his three kids and avoids social media.

When he’s not on the road, comedian Jamie Lissow lives in Alaska with his three kids and avoids social media.

Provided

In fact, he recalls that he never consciously picked a side in the conservative/progressive political battlefield until he ran into fellow comic Greg Gutfeld during his earlier reign at the helm of another Fox News comedy talk show, “Red Eye.” The two were dressed so much alike that post-show patrons kept walking up to congratulate Gutfeld for a great show, when it had in fact been Lissow performing.

Gutfeld gave his doppelganger a guest panelist spot on his previous show “Red Eye,” and Lissow was surprised how well he fit in with the show’s politics.

“I would say my conservatism developed over time as the world got crazier. I did not follow politics at all until I met Greg Gutfeld,” says Lissow. “And then as time passed, I realized ‘I’m on Team Logic.’ I feel that the liberals are so illogical and hypocritical that this is the only side I’m comfortable on now.

“If you just touch on, ‘I don’t want a guy to say he’s a woman and then beat up a woman in mixed martial arts,’ or if you say, ‘I think people should have a little more choice and not lose their jobs if they don’t want to get vaccinated,’ then it’s over and you’re in a box all of a sudden. It’s polarizing for sure.”

Lissow’s move away from the stand-up comedy and entertainment hubs of New York and Los Angeles to pursue life in Alaska proved to be fruitful for his life all around. When he’s home for some weeks between shows, he completely avoids social media and focuses on hanging out with his kids, and that helps deal with the head-spinning aspects of fame.

“Being the divorced guy from Alaska also helps me stand out from all the guest comedians who come on ‘Gutfeld!,’ ” he explains. “In my act now when I tour, I do material about my life in that respect, and I tell funny stories from behind the scenes on the show. Only in the last 15 minutes do I focus on politics.

“I would say confidently that anyone could come to the show and not feel ostracized, and I would say it definitely prioritizes laughs over politics. Sometimes people do get upset in the last 15 minutes, but if you try to please everybody, you don’t please anybody.”

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