Drew Hastings already was doing comedy for a living, so it was natural to steer his career into another highly laughable profession -- politics.
Hastings has lived an eclectic life. He was born in Morocco, raised in Ohio and ventured to Los Angeles to start a comedy career. Then, as a successful comic, he moved to Hillsboro, Ohio, a small town outside Cincinnati. He bought a farm. Last year, he ran for mayor. And won.
In one life, he's a successful comedian who's had Comedy Central specials and "Tonight Show" appearances. In another, he raises cattle and balances a city budget.
Hastings describes how he balances the two lives.
Question. What makes a comedian a good mayor?
Answer. People ask me, "What makes you think you can become a leader?" I say, "Well, I was used to disappointing people on an individual basis so I thought I'd try it as a group." My detractors, the good old boy network here, used my stand-up experience against me. But the abilities of a stand-up helped. You bluntly tell the truth. You're opinionated. You're quick on your feet. I was good in press conferences; I was good in debates; I was good going door to door.
Q. What's the town government like? Is there a city manager?
A. I pretty much run the show. The only person who'd be more powerful for me would be a dictator for life. But, really, the mayor has a city council that keeps him in check. ... There's a bunch of powers I didn't realize I even had until I started. I can marry people. I'm kind of a traditionalist. I believe marriage should be between a man and what appears to be a woman.
Q. Why run?
A. I've only been in this town six years. My belief is that this country is going to hell in a handbasket. My thought was, "Well, I can't do much about America, but I can do something about the small corner I live in." I spent 20 years touring small towns in the Midwest. I watched them slowly decline. I saw how some towns succeeded, so I was using some knowledge I just picked up on the road.
Q. Do you still tour much?
A. Oh, yeah. But this is a rarity that I'm going out for five nights. But I need it after a huge fight with the fire unions and the first seven months here. I've been in here 60 hours a week. I still go out on weekends (to perform) but nothing this long.
Q. What brought you back to Ohio?
A. I'm a performance guy. I've been in some pilots and things like that. But I've never chased fame for fame's sake. I was in L.A. 12 years. You realize how everything gets dumbed down there. I was getting good responses in the Midwest so I decided to go there. The Internet decentralized Hollywood. You don't need to be based in L.A. anymore to make it. I never liked it anyway. I had a saying: The sun doesn't set in L.A. At the end of the day it just gives up and drops into the ocean with a bitter hiss.
Q. Do you get good material from being a mayor?
A. I'm starting to develop mayoral material. Most of my recent stuff has been about my farm. I moved from L.A., and I decided to buy a farm. And I knew nothing about it. It became "Green Acres" on acid. The material wrote itself.