Politics makes him Tingle

Francis Ma

Not too thrilled with Barack Obama or John McCain? Jimmy Tingle says go to the voting booth and pull the lever for laughs.

The Cambridge comedian has officially thrown his hat into the ring as a candidate for the president of the United States.

He has no prior experience as an elected official, no fundraising dollars, not even political buttons or magnets for his supporters. What he does have are ideas on how a Tingle presidency can change America for the better.

“Everyone wants to stop crime,” says Tingle. “But none of them want to communicate with the criminals. To stop crime, I’ll have ex-convicts in my cabinet…we’ll just get them from previous cabinets.”

It’s a crazy idea, but it just might work.

Potential supporters and undecided voters can hear more ideas from the “Humor for Humanity” candidate at Tingle’s one-man show at the Arsenal for the Arts in Watertown, July 24 to Aug. 9.

The idea for a comedian to run for office isn’t all that new anymore thanks to the Robin Williams’ 2006 film “Man of the Year” and the Internet-produced rumors that The Daily Show Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report’s Stephen Colbert are on a ticket.

And, just recently, comedian and outspoken Democrat Al Franken announced his very real run for U.S. Senate in Minnesota.

But what makes Tingle’s jump into the political spectrum interesting is that it’s a natural progression from his body of work. He’s always delved into political and social issues in his act, from illegal immigration to gay marriage. In many ways, a presidential campaign was the next logical step.

“I’m having such a ball with this,” laughs Tingle. “I just develop comedic solutions to the issues other candidates are dealing with.”

For example, in terms of education, Tingle knows that it’s important that parents read to their children. But not all parents know this.

“Education is not just about money, it’s about reading to the children,” bellows Tingle. “Under a Tingle administration, I would hire tutors to read to the parents, who would then read to the kids.”

He also dives into local issues like transportation, which helped him get the endorsement from current Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone (you can see the video of his endorsement and others on

“There’s a reason people don’t take public transportation,” exclaims Tingle in full-blown candidate mode. “The car is much more comfortable than the train. So I would start building trains that were like cars, attached bumper to bumper. People would have a choice of car and they could sit there, listen to the radio, talk on the cell phone, drink coffee, read the paper, all the things people do in cars!”

As one can tell, this isn’t the same “doom and gloom” comedy other comedians resort to when talking about politics. In Tingle’s version, the comedy is uplifting and, in some ways, hopeful.

“I believe we’re making progress all the time,” says Tingle in a rare serious tone. “Fifteen years ago, we weren’t arguing about gay marriage, we were arguing about gays in the military. And now that we need more troops, I can see those same pundits who talked about it saying ‘Well, if they’re dying to get married, they should learn how to fight first.’”

It’s Tingle’s enthusiastic delivery and his wide, engaging smile that make this show so much more about humanity than it is about politics. It’s that personality that inspired State Rep. Kay Kahn (D-Newton) to endorse Tingle and embrace his idea about large wind farms on the highway.

“I think he’s energetic and inspiring,” laughs Kahn. “He’s got wonderful ideas that haven’t been presented yet. With the wind farms, he says you could move cars without gas.”

“I don’t want to brag,” says Tingle about his political endorsements. “But everyone wants to be on the bandwagon, everyone wants to be on a winner.”

Tingle says his political inspiration comes from legendary Massachusetts politician Tip O’Neill and insists that the nation is ready for a leader from the New England area.

“I come from a long line of intellectuals,” jokes Tingle. “Growing up, we lived near a college.”

And as for the country’s latest woes with the economy and the slumping housing market, Candidate Tingle has a response for that too.

“I don’t know anything about that!” exclaims Tingle. “If that answer is good enough for [presumptive Republican nominee John] McCain, it’s good enough for me.”

Jimmy Tingle for President

July 24-Aug. 9

Arsenal for the Arts, Watertown

Tickets: $30

Call 617-923-8487 or