This excerpt is from my interview with comedian Jonah Bascle, 23, running for mayor of New Orleans to help raise awareness of the need for wheelchair accessibility. His campaign slogan is "Standing up for You." This is the first in my series of candidate interviews at NewOrleans.com
1) You're not only the accessibility advocacy candidate; you're the social media standout as the only candidate with an original campaign song ("Jonah for Mayor") and a series of videos. How did the online part of your campaign come together?
I’ve been using social media as a comedian. I use it for promoting shows and getting videos out online. When I decided to run for mayor, I knew I had to use the social media I had already been using. The only difference is you really don't need money to get your message out to people. Putting ads on the local TV stations does not work anymore. I like using creative ways to run my campaign -- people can get their news from other sources faster online than waiting for a TV program. I feel like running my campaign the way I am makes a point; rather then spending thousands of dollars, I spend no money getting my voice out.
2) That’s true, we've talked about how it's a new world of campaign advertising - being able to reach the public with grass roots campaigns instead of ad dollars. What was the Perry campaign's reaction to your "Waffles" spoof on their 5 Changes (#*%$) ad?
The Waffles ad spoofing Perry's ad was a silly video. I made it to be silly because the video before made more of point, and I wanted to do something different that shows what kind of stuff I have been doing before running for mayor. The Perry Campaign told me they thought it was funny. Their campaign saying they liked it meant more to me than just anybody else liking it. They got that it was a silly spoof of their ad. I have some more videos I will be posting online throughout the campaign at jonahstandsup.com.
3) I’ll watch for them. You had one of the only applause lines in the first debate, asking for red streetcars to go down all lines for full accessibility, and calling for transparency in city hall. What's another change you feel New Orleans needs to see with its new mayor?
Yeah, they said at the beginning no applause until after the debate. But I thought since I do stand-up and that is based so much on getting an audience reaction, I might be able to recreate that on the debate. I think the audience applauded because my message is real and pretty much summed up people’s frustration with the city. I think New Orleans needs to see some that actually cares about the people in this city. And someone who can figure problems out with creative ideas and not that much money. I also think we need a mayor who will get things done. It is so hard to get anything done with the way the system is set up.
4) What do you think most New Orleans residents would be surprised to learn about accessibility in their city?
That there is no accessibility if you are in wheelchair - -the Taxis, the Superdome, the Restaurants, and the sidewalks.
Public transportation for handicapped people ends at 11 p.m. So I guess since I am in wheelchair I am not allowed out after 11 p.m. It’s true, however, that everyone in a wheelchair is a vampire, and if we were out at night we would bite people and then they would turn into vampires in wheelchairs. The worst kind of vampires!
5) Yikes! As the only comedian running for office, what's the funniest thing you've learned about politics in New Orleans during the race so far?
That the candidates don't eat the food in the waiting room for debates. It is like high school, they don’t want anyone to see them eat.
The second half of the interview is posted at NewOrleans.com. Jonah's "Don't Slow Down" video is below, and the new ad with the takeaway line, "That's a touchdown."