Words & Deeds

Dennis Miller: Idahoans’ anti-Californian ‘whininess’ correlates to time spent here

Delivering political takes, Dennis Miller was a regular contributor to Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor” until the show ended in 2017. “It was a fun run but it ended quickly,” he says.
Delivering political takes, Dennis Miller was a regular contributor to Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor” until the show ended in 2017. “It was a fun run but it ended quickly,” he says. Invision/AP

Comedian Dennis Miller is a Californian, but he’s also a part-time Idahoan.

Not only does he visit the Treasure Valley every few years to perform stand-up — including Saturday, April 7, at the Morrison Center — he’s had a home in Sun Valley for about two decades. “I love Boise,” Miller adds.

Like the rest of America, Idahoans are familiar with Miller’s wildly diverse career. His resume includes hosting SNL’s “Weekend Update” in the 1980s, starring in HBO’s “Dennis Miller Live” in the 1990s, joining the “Monday Night Football” cast in the early 2000s, and in recent years, poking his head in regularly on Fox News Channel’s now-defunct “O’Reilly Factor.”

His syndicated “Miller Minute” airs at 5:27 p.m. weekdays in Boise on KBOI 670 AM. Not into politics? Check out his sports takes via podcast on “Red Circle Sports with Dennis Miller.”

I caught up with Miller during a vacation that included a stop in Florida to catch some Major League Baseball spring training. “Hit some golf balls, fish a little and watch some baseball,” Miller said. “It’s a lovely day.”

Here’s part of our phone conversation, condensed and edited for clarity:

Q: I hear that your home life has been a little upside down lately with rains and floods in Montecito?

A: We’ve had like three mandatory evacuations in the last couple months, which is truly odd. But when Mother Nature comes to visit, you are a tiny player in the scenario. (Laughs)

Q: Are you planning to move to Idaho like everybody else in California?

A: I have a place in Idaho that I go up to periodically, but I’m going to stick it out in Cali. That’s where my wife likes it. So we’ve got a nice place. I’m happy to be there, but it has hit the fan lately.

Q: Boise is now the fastest-growing city in the nation, according to Forbes. This has made native Idahoans somewhat touchy about California immigrants, who impact the cost of living here. You have homes in both states. What do Idahoans do to address this influx of Californians?

A: I would say the good thing about everybody in the country being touchy on every single f***ing issue renders it a moot point. Because everybody’s touchy about everything. So therefore, nothing’s touchy.

Q: (Laughs) Well, dammit, Dennis, you bring those California prices to town, and it changes everybody’s economy. I think that’s what the big worry is for the most part.

A: Well, I’ve been there 20 years, and I’ve found out that people’s whininess is in direct proportion to how long you’ve been there. You will find somebody out there that says, “20 years, well, good for you. I welcome you as a citizen.” And then there’ll be somebody else that says, “I don’t start recognizing people as Idahoans until (the) 21st year.” So what are you gonna do. Everybody’s p***ed about everything.

A suspicion of newcomers, especially Californians, is as common in Idaho as fry sauce and sagebrush. But are we really so different? Here's what Idaho Statesman readers had to say.

Q: I know if our president wants to build a wall, one around Idaho might be welcomed by many here. Or maybe Idahoans just need to get over it.

A: I have a feeling this country will build a wall to keep people in, eventually.

Q: What are you up to work-wise?

A: Well, listen. I’m 64 years old and to be honest, I’m not looking for gigs that drive my life. I’m looking for gigs that augment my life. I’d like to travel a little more. I’m trying to read the entire bibliography of P.G. Wodehouse. (Chuckles) I’m trying to see some things. And I’m trying to augment it with little jobs here and there. You’ve got to sidle up to something.

It was funny. I was at the Mets stadium today, and I ran into a former NBA all-star named Steve Mix. And he’s working as an usher there. And this guy was in the show! I mean he got over 10,000 points, 5,000 rebounds. He was a good player and an all-star for Philly at one point. I said, “What are you doing, Steve?” He’s, “I can’t just sit around, I’ve got to do something.”

So I’m sort of in that phase. The podcast. I do a little feature called the “Minute” for commercial radio. I go out and do maybe 25 gigs a year. And I have a special in June that I’m writing an hour for. And that’s enough for me, quite frankly. And, you know, O’Reilly’s no longer on, so I don’t have that once a week. Like I said, at 64, I’m looking to do less (rather) than more.

Q: In the past, your stand-up performances have been maybe 45 minutes straight funny, then current events with political slant for maybe 30. Is that still the approach?

A: Still what I’m shooting for, man. Because I do want them to walk out of the room thinking, “Christ, he’s funny.” But for better or for worse, once you do “Weekend Update,” you’re known as a topical comedian. So you gotta include that. But I would shoot for two-thirds — what do they call it when you’re neither here nor there about something? There’s a word for it in religious — agnostic or something? (Laughs) Two-thirds of it, I try to make agnostic — just anybody of any persuasion can dig it. Then one-third of it, yeah, I’m probably going to take a few shots at Nancy Pelosi. (Chuckles)

Q: Comedic agnostic! It’s getting more difficult by the day, though, I swear.

A: Yeah. It is. It’s brutal. Never been in more politically correct times. I’m like Seinfeld. I wouldn’t even perform in a college campus now, to be honest. I mean, I’d perform in a venue, but I wouldn’t perform for college kids.

Q: You’re afraid of those kids, Dennis.

A: I don’t know however you want to put it, but you’ve seen how people react. Like I said, I’m looking to do less, not more. I don’t want to go in and tell a joke and have people start throwing ... chairs and bike racks through windows! You should be scared of it. It’s a very close-minded place right now.

Q: What’s more gratifying to you: To be funny to people, or to be politically motivating to people?

A: Funny.

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Dennis Miller

When: 8 p.m. April 7

Where: Morrison Center, 2201 Cesar Chavez Lane, Boise

Tickets: $39.50, $59.50, $79.50, Ticketmaster

Opening: Sarah Tiana

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