The HBO comedian talks about his new book

By Kate Meyers
April 05, 1996 at 05:00 AM EST

Dennis Miller calls them rants. They’re the manic, single-topic monologues that he spews each week at the start of his eponymous HBO show. They’ve given the 42-year-old comedian’s politically charged humor a fitting showcase, helped to win the series an Emmy for writing, and are now the stuff of Miller’s first book, titled, naturally, The Rants. The volume includes 43 of Miller’s discourses, from ”What Men Want From Women” to ”Infomercials.” We thought we’d ask him a few questions, then run for cover.

Why does the rant serve you so well?
It’s topical catharsis. I’m not a deep political thinker, though I know I get beat up for aspiring to that. I think I have a layman’s grasp on politics and a pretty good grasp on comedy, and I just try to meld those.

How would you describe yourself politically?
I’m a conservative. But I really do believe that anybody else’s approach to life is as valid to them as mine is to me. Take, for instance, abortion. I think abortion has gotten too easy, and too many people use it in lieu of a sounder approach to sex, but at the end of the day, that’s just my opinion.

Are you as pessimistic as you say in the book?
I’m pessimistic in my views of politics and social customs, but in my day-to-day life, I cannot tell you how ebullient I am to wake up in the morning. I have two children. I live in a beautiful place. I’m not an anguished artist. I really am at some point a guy who just does a job.

Who are you going to vote for in November?
I’m not going to vote for Clinton or Dole. I’m going to vote for the most aberrant candidate who makes it through the process because I’ve seen what the safety zone does.

What do you like to read?
I like Clive Cussler — undersea fiction. And biographies. I also like to read the box office returns in Variety, just like I used to read the batting averages as a kid. I like to add up the numbers in my head and divide by the number of screens — it’s like squeezing a rubber ball with your head.