BY ARIELLE STEVENSON, CREATIVE LOAFING TAMPA BAY
The last time I saw The Daily Show's Aasif Mandvi in Tampa Bay, he was losing miserably in a wing-eating competition at Clearwater's original Hooters. Now he's here with Jon Stewart and crew to cover the convention. Mandvi spent a good chunk of his formative years in Tampa and I'm a young journalist covering my first political convention, so I sought advice from the six-year Daily Show veteran. If he has the guts to ask Rick Scott for some pee, he must know something others do not.
Arielle Stevenson: So this is my first time covering a political convention. What advice do you have for me?
Aasif Mandvi: Don’t get punched in the face.
How do I do that?
Prepare by having a cold compress on hand.
What will I be getting punched in the face for?
If you’re doing your job correctly, someone will try and punch you in the face. So don’t be a pussy.
How do I interview a Republican?
Talk very slowly and really pronounce your words. It’s not that different from talking to a Democrat. Now talking to politicians is totally different.
Well how do I interview a Republican politician, then?
Be prepared to never have a single question answered.
How is the Republican Convention different from the Democratic National Convention?
The Republicans tend to have better ice sculptures and better hair. The women's hair is better, that is.
How do they do it?
The ice sculptures or the hair?
Well, both. Hair and ice sculptures are related talents, aren’t they?
Maybe they freeze the follicles in place.
What about the Democratic politicians?
They love beer. Just roll a keg of PBR into the convention and they’ll tell you anything you want them to.
What's the best way to ask a Republican a question?
Wear the nicest plastic smile you can manage and ask them something obscene. Not dirty. Show your teeth and wear lots of nice makeup. And then just pummel them when they least expect it.
What do protesters smell like?
In Florida they smell like fish.
Yes, we’re not heathens here.
What do Republicans smell like?
Money, fear and really nice cologne.
What does Jon Stewart smell like?
He smells that way all the time?
Morning, noon, and night. I think it’s a Jersey thing.
Mons Venus or 2001 Odyssey?
No competition there, definitely Mons.
The home of the most beautiful women in the world?
Yes. Shout out to Misty at the Mons.
Do we bow to Mitt Romney when he comes in the room?
Only if you drop something.
How should people prepare for a hurricane in Tampa? What should they expect?
School is canceled, you get to stay at home, and watch re-runs of Gimme a Break. That’s what I did the last time a hurricane hit Tampa. A hurricane in Tampa means no storm hits and it's much ado about a little bit of rain.
If you could name a storm, what would you name it?
Not Isaac or Debbie. Storms should have scary names like Lord Zandore; storm names should be other-worldly and destructive-sounding.
Does Jon Stewart hate Florida? I saw him cut my home state off the map with a pair of scissors.
No, he doesn’t hate Florida because he can’t hate Florida. You can only hate Florida if you’ve lived here. My hatred of Florida has been shaped by the family and friends I have here.
Do you think the Daily Show crew will make it through the week?
If they can learn to deal with the humidity, yes. The hurricane has turned the convention into two days of drinking.
What is the one thing visitors shouldn’t miss before they leave Tampa?
Gandy Beach on a Saturday night at midnight. Make sure to drive a pickup truck out there and blare Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Name the biggest no-no for a first-time convention correspondent.
Don’t run. Stand and take it. It’ll hurt, but eventually it becomes a dull throbbing heartache that just weighs heavy on you psychologically.