A New York mayoral candidate gets admirably honest on the latest episode of Ziwe Fumudoh’s new Showtime talk show, Ziwe. It’s not highly anticipated guest and current New York mayoral hopeful Andrew Yang, however, but rather Ziwe herself, who announces a vanity campaign of her own in a mock ad midway through the episode.
Unlike Yang, Ziwe freely admits that running for Mayor would be an exercise in boosting her profile, rather than boosting the city’s functionality. While the pretend mayoral candidate doesn’t get any disclosures quite that juicy out of the real one, she does get Yang on the ropes in such a revealing way that it’s clear that Ziwe should be granted the opportunity to interview all political candidates going forward.
Right away, everything that made Ziwe’s Instagram show such a must-watch last summer makes it terrifying for Yang to be on this incarnation of the program. It is either an extremely bold move or a mind-boggling research fail that he is here at all, Zooming in to answer questions such as, “What are your favorite racial stereotypes, are there any that are just straight-up true?”
Sometimes, Yang trots out standard politician time-buying tactics, repeating the question back and declaring, “What an interesting question!” before finding the safest response possible. With the particular question above, however, the strain of finding a safe answer shows results in facial contortions that are practically tectonic, before going with Asian stereotypes. “I’ll stick to the more benign ones,” he declares, before admitting that people of Asian heritage typically do indeed like their food, as that popular stereotype goes.
Most of the time, Ziwe’s reactions anticipate and channel the audience’s own, whether they reflect mischievous curiosity or delighted surprise. It’s never obvious when a curveball is coming, though. Although Yang looked ill at ease in the clip Ziwe circulated last week, in which she asks him about his favorite Jay-Z songs, he gets most uncomfortable when Ziwe asks him what he would do as mayor of New York to bring peace to the Middle East. Instead of being relieved at getting such a relatively light question on this heaviest of topics, his face conveys his proximity to a political third rail, and all traces of Fun Interview Mode dissolve from it. He understands that no more questions about Jay-Z are coming. It’s in exactly this kind of vulnerable position that politicians reveal something true about their character. An inelegant deflection can say as much about someone as an honest answer.
The interview only gets more sweat-inducing from there. All in all, Yang holds it together and avoids saying anything that could derail his campaign on its own. The interview may not exactly have boosted either his or Ziwe’s mayoral candidacy, but it makes a great case for her future interviewing more politicians.
Watch the full interview below.