Lizz Winstead honed a lot of her comedy instincts during the first Gulf War.

Before that, she had always used politics as a source of her stand-up routines. But watching the blitz of media coverage for that war convinced her that the media itself had become a character in the political conversation.

And a funny one at that.

“You had CNN and others with their graphics and theme songs and hot war experts, and it made me wonder whether they were covering a war or trying to sell me a war,” said Winstead, who will be performing her stand-up routine Saturday at One Longfellow Square in Portland.

The idea of cable TV news anchors as comic characters was one of the basic foundations for “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central, which Winstead helped create in 1996. She served as head writer for more than two years.

The show’s first host was Craig Kilborn, but it’s best-known host is Jon Stewart, who has elevated the program to cult status.

“It’s so gratifying when your instincts pay off and you hit on something the public responds to,” said Winstead, 49, a native of Minneapolis. “Helping create that show was like giving birth to a baby, then Jon Stewart adopted it and it went to Harvard.”

After leaving Comedy Central, she helped found Air America Radio and hosted a show on the network.

Winstead’s current comedy routine is political and very timely. She says she often writes jokes based on events that have happened the day of her show; sometimes, right up until show time.

“My niche is sort of the immediate response. So on stage, the audience and I can share an ‘Oh my God, have you seen this?’ moment.”

She also tries to write jokes based on local events and issues happening in the town she’s playing.

So Portland may be the butt of a few one-liners Saturday night. 

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

[email protected]