If there's one big star of the 2016 presidential election, it's not Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, or even Megyn Kelly, baskets, or taco trucks — it's Randy Rainbow. The gay comedian has been making gut-busting videos for years, but his send-ups of this insane election has propelled him to viral star status. Lampooning the outrageous characters of this unending race with a razor wit, Rainbow has made this toxic election a bit more palatable.
So,who is Rainbow? A Hillary Clinton plant? Stephen Colbert in gay drag? Find out below, and watch his newest election video, which may be his best yet.
The Advocate: Hey there, Randy. So many of your videos involve musical theater. What's your background on the stage?
Randy Rainbow: I’ve been performing since I’m a kid. High school musicals, regional theatre, cruise ships — you name it. I come from a pretty "showbizzy" family and it was encouraged from a young age. Fun fact: I used to go to theater camp with Josh Gad. I’m way more famous than he is, so I always like to throw him a bone by mentioning him in interviews.
Do you have a favorite role you've played? How about a dream role?
I know every guy probably says this, but I’d love to play Fanny Brice in Funny Girl.
You did a new version of your "Beauty-School Dropout" parody, "GOP Dropout," every time one of the Republican clowns left the race. Can we expect another when Trump loses?
I’ve gotten a lot of requests for it, but I don’t know that it would be quite the right send-off, as he’ll be more a loser than a dropout. We'll see, though. You can definitely expect something.
Your videos are amazingly edited. Do you do those yourself?
It’s me and my cat, a green screen, and a couple of computers in my tiny apartment. If you saw the setup, you’d laugh.
Do you find yourself watching the news just waiting for someone to say something awkward so you can lampoon it?
Absolutely. I’ve honestly never been much of a political junkie, but that’s all changed since this circus began. I’m watching very closely now. Of course, you don’t have to watch too closely to catch something awkward or outrageous these days.
Some of the people you've Randy Rainbow-ed have responded to it. What has that been like?
It’s been amazing! Brianna Keilar from CNN, who conducted the infamous "Says who?" interview with Trump’s attorney, which I spoofed [check it out below], gave an interview to Esquire about her experience and said that she "got Randy Rainbow-ed!" I’m a verb! Now she follows me on Twitter. Even crazier was when I heard from the "taco trucks on every corner" guy, who thanked me for my video and asked if he could be of any assistance. I don’t know if he realized that I was mocking the shit out of him, but I guess it doesn’t matter when you’re a publicity whore.
Your "Ya Got Trump Trouble" Music Man parody — see it below — has more views than any of your other videos, with over 4 million views. Do you have a favorite video?
I’m a huge fan of everything I do, but I’m pretty proud of that one. I like the musical stuff. My Kim Davis "Cell Block Tango" parody will also always have a special place in my heart. It’s one of Debra Messing’s faves too. Did I just name-drop Deb Messing? Yes, girl, I did.
What is the most important thing to you about what you accomplish with your videos?
A lot of people thank me for helping to make this election bearable for them, and I love that. That’s of course what comedy is for, and there’s nothing that makes me feel prouder or more accomplished than making people laugh when they need it most. I’d also like a television show on a major network and a shit-ton of money.
Do you think of your audience as primarily LGBT or do you focus more broadly than that when making your content?
I don’t think about it. I just try to stay true to what I think is funny and entertaining or what, if any, my message is, and hope that it's received by as many people as possible. You might assume my demo is mostly LGBT, but I’d say that more than half of the fans on my Facebook page are straights. Go figure.
Do you assume that your audiences are familiar with the videos you're shredding, or do you see your videos as more informing audiences about the issues?
Most satire is funnier when you’re familiar with the source material, but I think my videos can also stand on their own. I'm sure plenty of people have only seen my versions of the interviews. In fact, a lot of vehement Trump supporters I hear from seem to believe they're all completely real. Scary.
On to the important matters. Who's your celebrity crush?
I have literally thousands, but at the end of the day, Jake Gyllenhaal is my iPhone wallpaper.
How about a politician crush?
For the longest time it was Rick Perry, but I recently saw him on Dancing With the Stars, so that's totally dead now.
If you could work on any project, unlimited budget, what would it be?
I’d love my own talk show.
You don't really leak much about your personal life online. Is there a Mr. Rainbow?
I’m an open book. I was born on Long Island, spent half my childhood there and the other in South Florida. Now I live in New York City and I’m single AF!
What are you going to do once the election is over?
Take a much-needed vacation and spend a lot more time with my daughters, Sasha and Malia.