eet Max Rice, the 20 year-old film student and stand up comic from Chicago who decided to stage his own bizarre style of political theater on Sunday when he pranked conservative Fox News host Gretchen Carlson of Fox & Friends. When an acquaintance at Fox News reached out to friends via text earlier this month looking for Obama voters who have since crossed party lines to support Mitt Romney, Rice (who wasn’t even of voting age during the last election) knew it was his chance to humiliate the conservative news source. Since the debacle, the irreverent Rice has been deluged by interview requests. We had the opportunity to get to know the real Max, who spoke to us between classes recently.
Were you serious when you told Gretchen Carlson that you met President Obama in the third grade?
Yes I did meet him although I think it was in the fifth grade at Central School in Glencoe, Illinois at the time he was running for the Senate.
Did you talk to him?
Yes, I told him that he was going to be President of the United States. And he answered in Presidential overtones, “Why thank you, young man.”
Any negative feedback so far? Any threats?
Yes and no. There’s a grey area here. A bunch of my friends have texted me, half joking,“You’re a f*cking moron” though they might be serious. I can’t tell.
Has the administration at Columbia College (where Rice attends) contacted you?
Not yet. They must be pissed off because this one guy from the Washington Post called the school and they told him that I wasn’t enrolled there. So I had to send him my student ID to verify I am who I am.
Does Fox need some improvement in the fact checking department?
Fox had a week to learn that I wasn’t 23 years old, wasn’t a Romney supporter, wasn’t a college graduate. They could have Googled my name, they could have seen my stand-up, they could have seen my presidential speech. They didn’t connect the dots that I graduated highschool in 2010. And these people are getting paid millions of dollars to be journalists? They’re not journalists.
There is footage of you on the Internet giving a speech to your high school class. Is that the presidential speech you are referring to?
Yes, I was class president at New Trier High School but only senior year. I ran every year though.
How long did it take until you were contacted by all of the media outlets?
Essentially right away. I did the interview at 5pm CST and got home a 6:20 and there was already an article written. I guess there are people who watch Fox News 24/7 to see if they’ve messed up and then they blog about it. Apparently they’ve been waiting for something like this to happen.
Do you hope this will catapult you into some kind of career of sorts?
This wasn’t my attempt to boost my career. It just happened to me. I would’ve rather had something like this happen in a year or two when I’ve actually graduated.
Well, now you know that life is totally incidental.
When did you start doing stand-up comedy?
I started doing standup at 15 in Chicago.
Any comedian you want to model your career after?
My hero is Bill Hicks. It’s a shame I never got to meet him. I think my dad went to high school with him. How funny is that?
Do you think the subversive nature of Bill Hicks’ act inspired you to pull something off like the Fox prank?
He’s just very inspiring. Just look at the ballsy stuff he had in his act. He’s the only comedian to ever get censored by the David Letterman show.
What did your family think of your escapade?
It went over very well with my family.
Come on, they weren’t horrified?
No, they all liked it. I guess all our wires aren’t properly connected (laughs)
Were you prepared for all of the media interest?
Not really, but most of the questions have been the same so it hasn’t been that difficult. They basically want me to tell them the story and want me to verify that I’m the guy who pranked Fox. But none of the questions quite give a good picture of who I am.
What would you like them to ask?
No one has asked me about movies. That’s my biggest passion. I could go on for hours about movies.
Ok, Max what are your top five favorite movies?
That’s easy. Number 1, The Searchers. I’m a huge John Wayne fan. He’s another inspiration even though we differ politically. John Wayne never made a bad film. Second favorite movie is Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious with Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains. In my opinion, it’s just a better version of Casablanca. It’s Casablanca directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Ok, number 3. Crimes and Misdemeanors. Have you ever seen that?
Well it’s another perfect movie. Ok, how many movies is that?
Three. Two more.
I’’m a huge Terry Gilliam fan. So, Brazil is in my top five.
What’s the last one.
With all of this media interest in you will life ever be the same?
Well, I just got back from class so nothing seems to be too different. I don’t feel different, it’s just weird.
Since the prank all of the articles written have portrayed you as a guy with an agenda. Are you?
This whole thing fell into my lap and I just went on my instincts. But I did have these preconceived notions about Fox.
Any girls called you so far?
Zero so far. That’s the honest and unfortunate truth. Let everybody know that I’m single.
Ok, we will. Thanks, Max. Best of luck.
Thanks, you too.