Paul Provenza has been a standup comedian and student of comedy for some three decades. He directed “The Aristocrats” and is hosting Showtime’s “The Green Room,” in which he talks about the business with fellow comics.

He has also compiled “Satiristas: Comedians, Contrarians, Raconteurs, and Vulgarians,” a collection of discussions he had with Robin Williams, Lewis Black, Don Novello, Colin Quinn, Lily Tomlin, PJ O’Rourke, Dave Attell, Richard Lewis, Robert Klein, Bill Maher, Patton Oswalt, Craig Ferguson, and a couple dozen other practitioners of the craft — including George Carlin, about a week before his death.

Today on KTRS/St. Louis, Provenza and I discussed the book, beginning with why so many in the comedy community hold Stephen Colbert in such high regard, and why what he does on his Comedy Central show is so different and difficult. We also touched on:

  • why there aren’t more conservative comedians
  • why he believes left-wingers are more responsible for censorship than right-wingers
  • why no one’s created great musical satire since Tom Lehrer
  • how wealth changes comedy
  • whether satire can really change anything
  • why Joy Behar is pulling off something unique on “The View”
  • why Jay Leno is included in this collection in the first place
  • whether Matt Stone and Trey Parker were out of line in how they went after Janeane Garofalo in “Team America,” and what she told him about them, too

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