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Actor Tony Hale compares American politics to "Veep"

Actor Tony Hale is no stranger to the ways of Washington, having played Gary, the body man to Julia Louis-Dreyfus' vice president on "Veep," for several years. In an interview with CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett, Hale said he believed "Veep" was popular because it provided an "outlet" for viewers.

"When you're watching politics on the news, sometimes you want to laugh, because it's so crazy, but you have kind of a guilt attached to for laughing because it's real life," Hale said on this week's episode of "The Takeout" podcast. "And I felt 'Veep' was this kind of political outlet where it gave you the freedom to laugh."

Listen to this episode on ART19

Highlights from this week's episode:

  • How "Veep" helped people process politics: "When you're watching politics on the news, sometimes you want to laugh, because it's so crazy, but you have kind of a guilt attached to for laughing because it's real life. And I felt 'Veep' was this kind of political outlet where it gave you the freedom to laugh."
  • The accuracy of "Veep": "When we were doing the show, we would go to D.C. and we would hear things, and they were like, 'You have no idea how this is actually happening, or how this is very much real,' and I'm like, 'Please don't say that out loud.'"
  • What it's really like in Washington: "I think there's a lot of people who work in D.C. who are really doing their best, and are really trying to be compassionate and trying to see and hear others, and I feel like it's a pressure cooker."
  • Cultivating empathy: "For you to grow as a person, and to really learn and gain empathy in our human race, you're going to have to connect to people with differing beliefs and thoughts and learn how to communicate."

In preparation for the role, Hale met with Reggie Love, who served as President Barack Obama's body man. A body man is essentially a close aide who ensures their principal has what they need at any given moment. 

Hale said that he would return to Washington throughout the series run for research and was always surprised when people who worked in politics told him that the absurdist humor of "Veep" was more accurate than he knew.

"When we were doing the show, we would go to D.C., and we would hear things, and they were like, 'You have no idea how this is actually happening, or how this is very much real,' and I'm like, 'Please don't say that out loud,'" Hale said.

"Veep" is a sharp satire, and most of its characters are inept, amoral, or both.

"People would come up to us in D.C. and be like 'I'm the Dan' in my office," Hale said, referring to one of the characters on "Veep." "And I'm like, 'Why are you saying this? These are horrible characters!'"

However, Hale was quick to note that not everyone who worked in Washington was corrupt.

"I think there's a lot of people who work in D.C. who are really doing their best, and are really trying to be compassionate and trying to see and hear others, and I feel like it's a pressure cooker," Hale said.

Hale said there was an important lesson to be learned from politics, that it is necessary to interact with and come to appreciate people with whom you may disagree.

"For you to grow as a person, and to really learn and gain empathy in our human race, you're going to have to connect to people with differing beliefs and thoughts and learn how to communicate," Hale said.

For more of Major's conversation with Hale, download "The Takeout" podcast on Art19, iTunesGooglePlaySpotify and Stitcher. New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch "The Takeout" on CBSN Friday at 5pm, 9pm, and 12am ET and Saturday at 1pm, 9pm, and 12am ET. For a full archive of "The Takeout" episodes, visit www.takeoutpodcast.com. And you can listen to "The Takeout" on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings).  

Producers: Arden Farhi, Jamie Benson, Sara Cook and Eleanor Watson
CBSN Production: Eric Soussanin, Julia Boccagno and Grace Segers
Show email: TakeoutPodcast@cbsnews.com
Twitter: @TakeoutPodcast
Instagram: @TakeoutPodcast
Facebook: Facebook.com/TakeoutPodcast

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