Comedians are standing up for Andrew Yang these days.
Something about the tech entrepreneur's quirky Democratic presidential campaign has attracted a wave of celebrity endorsements in recent weeks, especially from funny men. The boost comes as the candidate just crossed the polling threshold to make the stage for the Feb. 7 debate hosted by ABC, WMUR-TV, and Apple News.
Most recently, actor and comedian John Leguizamo backed the candidate whose campaign focuses largely on a pledge to give Americans $1,000 a month to cushion against the impact of automation-related job loss. Leguizamo joins the growing list of comedians who have endorsed Yang, including Dave Chappelle, Donald Glover, and Ken Jeong. Both the polls and the endorsements are indicators that the presidential hopeful’s popularity and name recognition are rising.
Yang addressed his bump in the polls to media after a town hall in Creston, Iowa. “One fun thing about this campaign is that the more human people see me as, the better we seem to do, which is better for me, too, because I prefer being myself and being normal,” he said Sunday.
Being normal is exactly what one supporter pointed to in explaining the celebrity endorsements. Katie Huff, a single mom from Greenfield, Iowa, who walked into his Saturday night town hall undecided (what the campaign refers to as “Yang-curious”), said she was leaving committed to caucus for Yang. When asked by Fox News how the endorsements reflected on Yang’s campaign, she said, “A politician endorsing another politician, that just means they're probably going to get a kickback of some sort. You know people who are endorsing Yang aren't really going to get a kickback.”
She added that she appreciated that about Yang.
Another town hall attendee, Parth Shaw of California, told Fox News that he was there for work, analyzing the campaign to establish easier ways for local governments to work with hopefuls. He mentioned the Dave Chappelle endorsement that Yang received earlier this month, saying it shows Yang’s “broad appeal” and argued that the candidate's acceptance of an endorsement means just as much as the endorsement itself. “It goes to show what audiences they are looking to appeal to, what kind of people they're looking to engage with,” he said.
In the last few days, Yang has placed a new emphasis on how his flagship proposal of a “Freedom Dividend” ($1,000 a month to all adult Americans) would facilitate the arts. A line in his updated stump speech discusses stay-at-home moms like his wife Evelyn being under-valued. "What about 95 percent of artists?" he asks the audience. "That’s why it scares the parents. They’re like, ‘I want to be an artist’. And their parents are like, ‘I love you. I must support you. But this makes it very difficult.’”
Asked whether he thinks he is personally funny, Yang wouldn't say either way.
"I'll leave it to other people to decide whether I'm funny," he said. "... But all I know is that I managed to get Evelyn to marry me. And that seems to be like, you know, like, I mean, so funny or unfunny or however I made that happen, I should just, like, be glad every day."
But he said he was thrilled to have the comedians' endorsements: "I'm thrilled to have Dave Chappelle support and Ken Jeong and John Leguizamo and some of these leaders in their field. I do think that artists and creatives in some ways see things more clearly than many other Americans because they're a little bit ahead of the curve in terms of our culture and where we need to go.”
Voters who spoke with Fox News in Iowa this past weekend said that endorsements had no sway on how they plan to cast their ballot. But many felt that celebrity involvement in campaigns helped raise candidates' profiles in the media, which in turn helps them in the polls.
Several other candidates had celebrity endorsers physically join them on the trail this past weekend, including Jonathan Van Ness of Netflix’s “Queer Eye” stumping for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and star-studded Sen. Bernie Sanders rallies that featured Mike Posner, Michael Moore and Portugal. The Man.