FOR STAND-UP and truTV star Adam Conover, there’s a fine line between ruination and enlightenment. This fall, he’s taking his hit cable series Adam Ruins Everything on the road in what Conover calls an “hour-long comedy Ted Talk” focused on the upcoming presidential election.
“We’re going to be covering weird presidential history, things that are broken about our election system, and money in politics,” he explains. “Everyone says, ‘We gotta get the money out of politics.’ But the problem isn’t what you think it is.”
Conover says he’s always been an “information slut.” “I was the guy at the party who’d always read an article about whatever the subject of conversation was,” he explains.
Conover worked this preference for particulars and mind for minutiae into his routine.
Eventually, the diminutive comedian with a dorsal fin hairdo pitched the inventively formatted show Adam Ruins Everything to cable network truTV. “truTV was the one network that had the wild risk-taking sensibility and was open to it,” says Conover.
In the series, Conover magically barges into sketches like a sharp-dressed knowledge genie, sprinkling truth dust on everything he encounters.
Despite the title, Adam Ruins Everything “isn’t really about ruining things,” Conover explains. “Really it’s a process of investigation and curiosity. Nothing is immune to that.”
But with great knowledge comes great power. Conover soon found the more he knew, the more he saw through the illusions, misinformation, and half-truths that inform our everyday lives.
He aims to reveal that what we think is true is often the product of marketing, public relations, urban legends, and sometimes downright lies. His wide-ranging subjects include everything from football to death to the Jim Crow south.
“We pride ourselves on tackling very tough, very serious topics with humor and sensitivity,” he adds, “There’s nothing, on a personal level, I think that you’re better off not knowing the truth about.”
So in the midst of a particularly heated presidential election, is our democracy truly at risk?
“Right now everyone is so cynical about our democracy,” Conover says. “We wanted to speak to that directly. Is it true? In some ways this election is very contentious, “but in other ways it’s stuff that we’ve seen before. People say ‘I can’t believe Donald Trump.’ We’ve seen a lot of candidates like Donald Trump. You can’t just hope that they’re not going to arise, you have to beat them.”