Who Is Sen. Anne Ranch?
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
NPR's ethics code does not allow me to endorse a political candidate. But you know what? It's a pandemic. All bets are off, so here goes. I am hereby endorsing Sen. Anne Ranch in her reelection campaign. That felt really good. Her campaign is less than a month old, and already, Anne Ranch has more than 10,000 followers on Instagram. Unfortunately, she is not a real person. She is the creation of TV comedy writer Charles Rogers, who co-created the show "Search Party." And Charles Rogers joins us now. Welcome, and thank you for this little bit of joy that has been in my life for the last couple weeks.
CHARLES ROGERS: Thank you. I mean, even hearing you say her name, it brings me joy, so...
SHAPIRO: How would you describe who Sen. Anne Ranch is? Like, what kind of image is she crafting in this Instagram account?
ROGERS: Anne is sort of crafting an image of nothing (laughter). I think Anne - you're not really sure what she stands for, but somehow, you're on board.
SHAPIRO: I wish people could see her face because it's hard to describe. But, you know, her eyes look strangely familiar in every image. Where have I seen these eyes before?
ROGERS: So Anne Ranch is a Frankenstein experiment of a few different women I've used as the canvas for her (laughter). There's some Nancy Pelosi. There's some Sen. Lisa Murkowski. There's some Christine Baranski in "The Good Fight." And (laughter)...
SHAPIRO: Oh, another fictional politician.
ROGERS: I know. I know. It's getting "Inception"-y (ph).
SHAPIRO: All with the eyes of...
ROGERS: Steve Buscemi times, like, four.
SHAPIRO: ...Steve Buscemi (laughter).
ROGERS: They're, like, four times bigger than Steve Buscemi's eyes (laughter).
SHAPIRO: Were you just bored one day and thought, what would happen if I put Steve Buscemi's enlarged eyes on the face of a female politician?
ROGERS: That's actually exactly what it was (laughter).
ROGERS: I'm addicted to pranks. I actually have a - probably a big problem. My therapist says that I'm seeking novel human experiences.
ROGERS: But I just - I Photoshop people, like, all day long. I love doing it. That's like my Candy Crush. And so...
ROGERS: I was like, what would it look like to put Steve Buscemi's face on Nancy Pelosi? I had no real plan to make it be anything except for, like, a weird experiment. And then people started to love her, and it's kind of built its own life. And I've figured out her voice, and I'm going to take it as far as I can get away with (laughter).
SHAPIRO: I should put in a plug for her book, which is called "Forks In The Road." And in the post about this book, she wrote, (reading) it's a little lighter than I'd expected. I was hoping it would make a harder sound when dropped. I dropped it a few times in different spots of my house and was really only satisfied with how it sounded when thrown hard against The Bean in the backyard. My husband and I commissioned the artist who made The Bean in Chicago. It's a three-tenth scale replica but can produce the same visual effect.
It says a lot about the book, I think, really.
SHAPIRO: You know, you could be spending your time in lockdown doing something that you would actually get paid for, like writing a TV show. How does it feel to be interviewed on NPR for something that is not actually making you any money at all?
ROGERS: It feels closer to my soul's path than anything I've done in my life.
ROGERS: Something about this - I'm like, oh, I'm home, finally (laughter).
SHAPIRO: Why do you think it's been such a hit?
ROGERS: I don't know. I think that Anne embraces absurdity. She's upfront about it, and she's joyful about her absurdity. I'm really fascinated by the way politicians use social media and, like, the weird kind of, like, performance and formality and also, like, the folksiness and familiarity. It's all just so produced. And I like that this character is trying to do all those things but also completely herself. I think in some ways, it's like the antidote to Donald Trump because it's someone who is completely being themselves, but it's nice and fun.
SHAPIRO: Charles Rogers - he is the campaign manager and creator of the fake Sen. Anne Ranch. You can find her on Instagram at @officialanneranch. Charles, thank you so much for this conversation and for this Instagram account.
ROGERS: Thank you, Ari. I can't appreciate it more.
(SOUNDBITE OF GERSHWIN WITH THE NY PHILHARMONIC'S "DO DO DO")
ROGERS: I'd actually like to use ALL THINGS CONSIDERED to say that Anne Ranch is running for president.
SHAPIRO: Oh, my goodness. Wow.
ROGERS: If you want an alternative narrative to the country that we're living in, which is on the precipice of totalitarianism, Anne Ranch's Instagram page is a place where you can see this fabulous character win. I will not play with your heart.
SHAPIRO: You are just guaranteeing that she's going to win the presidential race?
ROGERS: Yes. There's no if, ands or buts. In the world of her Instagram, she wins.
(SOUNDBITE OF GERSHWIN WITH THE NY PHILHARMONIC'S "DO DO DO") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.