Vic DiBitetto Breaks Down His Swear-Fueled 'Message to the Government' For Us

An angry message addressed to the government, ripping into the inadequate response to economic damage wrought by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, has (once again) made comedian Vic DiBitetto a viral voice for working people.

In a video addressed to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, the Pony Express and "your sister's a**" DiBitetto—or "Ticked off Vic"—launched into a righteous screed regarding government inaction, opening with a simple question: "How the f*** does that help, you greedy cocks****rs?"

With more than two million views on YouTube and tens of millions more across other social media platforms, "Ticked Off Vic: A Message to the Government" castigates Congress and other government officials for passing multi-trillion dollar relief packages that skew the bulk of funding toward financial institutions, corporations and the wealthy, while leaving out crucial relief for people who are unemployed and struggling during the ongoing shelter-in-place lockdown meant to slow the spread of COVID-19.

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Relief packages passed through both houses of Congress include tax changes that overwhelming benefit millionaires, while the Paycheck Protection Program has only benefited a fraction of small businesses, with relief money flowing instead to national chains. While one-time stimulus checks of $1,200 (more under certain conditions) were sent to some Americans and unemployment benefits have been expanded, more than 26 million people in the United States have made jobless claims, pushing the unemployment rate to levels unseen since the Great Depression.

"We need a real f***kin' plan," DiBitetto says in the video. "You told us to shut down nonessential businesses. You told us to go home and quarantine. You told us we have to keep social distance and stay inside. But you told us you would help. So where is the f*****' help?"

While emphasizing that he didn't blame the government for COVID-19 ("It happened. It is what it is.") and agreed with measures taken to slow the transmission of the coronavirus, DiBitetto argued for a suspension of mortgage, healthcare and other payments so families could secure groceries and other essentials with their one-time stimulus check.

There could be a real plan in place. A real plan to get people through these next few months. A real plan to be testing, a real plan to allow workers who are considered non-essential to not worry about catching a virus and losing their house—Do the right f*****' thing, you peckerheads!" DiBitetto said, while also decrying bailouts for financial institutions in his "Message to the Government."

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"Haven't we learned too many times that when we give the big company all the money the execs get fat and the workers get f******?" DiBitetto said. "So you have ten years of massive profits and you need a bailout after two weeks of a shut down? How come we the people have to save for a rainy day, but you save nothing?"

In subsequent "Ticked Off Vic" videos, DiBitetto called out protestors with Nazi flags ("Do I really need to explain why Nazis are bad?"), stimulus check delays ("If you're one minute late paying your taxes you get penalized and you pay interest—'F*** you, pay me!'—but do we get to charge the government penalty and interest because they can't pay unemployment and stimulus checks for six weeks?") and N95 masks shortages endangering nurses ("How in the world can hospitals be so f****** cheap and so f****** careless with the health of our frontline health care workers? Has the world gone completely f****** mad?").

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Vic DiBitetto performing comedy on stage. After working as a school bus driver for more than a decade, DiBitetto now does comedy full time. Vic DiBitetto

This also isn't the first time DiBitetto has stood up to powerful interests. Before switching to comedy full-time, the New Jersey comedian and Brooklyn, New York native worked for more than a decade as a Staten Island school bus driver for special-education kids. In 2013, DiBitetto and his wife (a matron on his bus) participated in a five-week school bus strike aimed at then-mayor Michael Bloomberg's efforts to undermine their union by putting out bids for more than a thousand bus routes.

"We're only asking for security for our jobs and pensions. I'm in my 50s. I want to hold on to my $35,000-a-year-job and make sure I have a pension. Does this make us the bad guys Bloomberg's making us out to be?" DiBitetto told the New York Daily News during the strike. "He has disgraceful scabs coming in from Long Island to this union town to cross our pickets and try to take away job security from people like me and my wife."

That same year DiBitetto became an unexpected viral sensation with his video "Bread and Milk," which poked fun at people's attitudes in advance of major snowstorms.

Newsweek spoke with DiBitetto about "Ticked Off Vic: A Message to the Government," working class interests and, yes, "greedy cocks*****s". This interview has been lightly edited for length.

How does a "Ticked Off Vic" video start? With your "Message to the Government" how much did you plan out what you were going to say in advance?

I was watching TV and it was all the same doom and gloom. I spoke to my manager, because that's what we do: we bounce ideas back and forth with each other. I said, "This is a hot topic now, we gotta do something, what could we do? We went back and forth and came up with 'How about a message to the government, how about what the working people would love to tell the government but they can't?"

I didn't do this thinking "Oh this is going to go viral." I never do that. I never think anything is going to go viral, but it struck a nerve and we sat down and we wrote out what we thought the government should do, instead of what they're not doing. It's just crazy. And obviously it struck a nerve and now it's 27 million views, just on Facebook alone.

Why do you shoot these in the front seat of your car?

If I did it in my house, my wife would kill me. Because I spit and spit is going all over the place and I scream—my wife doesn't like screaming, so the car is the best way to do it. It's my car, I clean up the dashboard when I'm done. There's no coronavirus, it's perfectly safe. But the car, it's got great acoustics. You can scream and nobody knows what's going on. If I did it in my house, my wife and the cat will have a seizure.

Do you think of Ticked Off Vic as a character, or is it more just letting yourself off the leash?

It's a part of me that I think a lot of people have in them. I vent. I can't say anything; my wife, she's the boss, but Ticked Off Vic is a piece of everybody. It's a combination of character and it's really me. There's a lot of things that tick me off in this world and people relate to it.

One of the themes of the video is that working class people are expected to save and act responsibly, but corporations aren't. Where do you think that double standard comes from?

Corporations are probably going to watch this and laugh, like, "Who is this guy, he's a little fly on the wall, get rid of him." But I don't represent corporations, I represent the working class, the hard-working people who once again are getting screwed, because it's the same old same old. The corporations will get bailed out and we'll get screwed once again. It's so unfair, it's so wrong. I've had enough and I think the country has had enough.

Look, I'm not Nostradamus, I'm just a blue collar guy. I don't take any political stance. I'm just calling it like I see it and it's crazy out there. I don't know what's going on. It needs to be changed. I outlined some bullet points of what they should do, but it's probably going to go by the wayside. It's going to be the same old, same old.

At one point you call out the "greedy cocksuckers and you government lackeys who suck the balls of the big corporations" and you say, "shame on you all." Do you think any of them feel shame?

Nah, not at all. Not at all. They're heartless, they're not human. They have no idea what it's like to get up every morning—I drove a garbage truck, a dump truck, a school bus before I started doing comedy and they have no idea what it's like to work for a living. Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.

I'm a big Bruce Springsteen fan and there's a line in one of his songs: "All men want to be rich, rich men want to be king and the king ain't satisfied until he rules everything," and that is so true. It's so true.

Related to your past jobs, before you had this platform you and your wife took a stand against Michael Bloomberg for better pay for bus drivers, can you tell me how that went?

Once again, it went nowhere. Me and my wife, we worked for a school bus company for 15 years. I was on a picket line, burning wood at subzero temperatures, worried if my job was going to get taken over by scabs. Bloomberg couldn't care less. There's another billionaire who hasn't a clue. They're all in their own little bubble, they don't know what it's like.

This is the problem with this country. Look, you work hard for it, I'm not jealous of rich people. You work your ass off, you earned it, you deserve it, but Jesus man, it's not fair: we're bailing out banks. The last crash was, what, ten years ago? These greedy banks had—what?—ten years to save up and now after only two weeks they want a bailout? How about me? We the people? We had to save for a rainy day, but they saved nothing. It's so wrong. It's wrong.

You describe how there's a lot of blame to go around, but is there anyone in particular you'd call out?

No, I'm not into name calling. I'm not a Democrat, I'm not a Republican, I'm common sense. I'm just calling it like I see it: it's wrong. You kick a dog while he's down, I don't care if you're a Republican or a Democrat, it's wrong to kick a dog. It's common sense. The whole furlough nonsense. You're going to tell somebody he can't work, so he doesn't pay his mortgage for three months and then when he comes back he can pay, obviously that month, on top of the three months that he couldn't pay? How! He wasn't making money! You told him to stay home, you told him to quarantine, which we understand. We understand that it's saving lives, I'm okay with that, but Jesus Christ you've got to supplement. The $1200 is good for food. Stop all payments on credit cards, everything, health coverage, and use that $1200 for groceries. It's common sense. Just common sense.

A lot of this video focuses on mortgages and moving those three months of mortgage payments to the back of the mortgage, but I wanted to ask you about the majority of your fellow New Yorkers, who are renters. Do you have any suggestions for the wave of evictions and missed rent payments that are an inevitable consequence of this?

There was a landlord in New York, I forgot his name, he said "You don't have to pay me until this is over." I think that's a great idea. How can people get evicted if they're not making money? How can you pay rent if you're not earning an income? Just freeze everything right now until this thing clears up!

In the video you call the people failing to put together plans to address this both "cocks*****s" and "idiots," but what's the balance? How much of this is malicious or evil and how much is incompetence? What's the split there?

You know what, I think it's a combination of both. I think they're also heartless and they're spineless. I apologize for the cursing, but that video you saw, it wasn't an act. When I get pissed I curse and I spit and I scream and it's a shame a lot of people got offended by the cursing instead of trying to realize the point I was trying to make.

Like I said before, if you worked hard for it, to become rich, God bless you, you earned it. But when it's given to you with a silver spoon in your mouth, how do you go to bed at night? How do you put your head on the pillow when you watch the news and you see there are 22 million people on unemployment in this country, where many are living paycheck to paycheck.

Then some people are saying to those getting in line for unemployment, "Oh, the system is overwhelmed, call back next week." You know who is overwhelmed? The American worker. We've had it. Remember that movie Network? We're as mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore.

Speaking of the swearing, when you make an argument with anger there are people who act as if it's somehow a worse argument, or deserves to be taken less seriously. But it's obvious from your video's success that anger strikes a chord with people. So what do you say to people who say anger has no place in these kind of conversations?

Like my mother used to say, they should go scratch there a**es, that's what I think. You know what it is? Either get over it, or get lost. This is years and years of bottled up anger from the American worker who is constantly getting screwed, over and over again. We're going to bail out the banks, bail out the airlines, bail out the cruise lines and the same s*** is going to happen again. Unemployment is up. Who is going to have their house foreclosed on? Who is going to be homeless in the street? Something's got to give here.

Now people are telling me I should run for president. Who has time for that? Look, I'm no Ivy League guy, as you can tell. I never went to college. But I got more common sense than those empty suits in Washington. Run for president! My wife won't even let me leave the house to smoke a cigar.

Along those lines, is it weird (I assume you're doing other interviews) that people are asking you all these politics or policy questions because the people who are supposed to be handling this aren't responsive?

It's very surreal. I'm not a political guy. I didn't know this was going to go viral. I'm just a regular guy. I'm just calling it like I see it. I don't care who's in the White House, I don't care who's running for office, I'm just calling it like I see it. I have feelings, I have a heart, I have a soul and this is resonating with people. I have a huge social media following and I think they think I'm their voice. I don't expect to win the Nobel Peace Prize, I just want to go back to normal and go back on stage. I was doing great and the world, a couple of weeks ago, just stopped. And the scary thing is the uncertainty of this. We've never been in this situation before. That's what's scaring people: we don't know what's going to be normal again. These are uncharted waters. You talk about anxiety! Suicides. This is going to have a bad trickle down effect. I understand we have to save lives, but there needs to be a plan. The money is there, it's just not getting to the right people.

In some of your follow-up videos, you brought up stuff like nurses without adequate equipment, airline bailouts and big businesses slurping up these loans intended for small businesses. Is there anything else on your mind, maybe for upcoming videos?

What else is ticking me off? Protestors harassing the medical workers. Are you kidding me? Here are these people on the frontlines, wondering if they're going home with that virus and affect their own families. This is all we got between us and the sick. Those medical workers, those are the heroes, not these politicians and movie stars and athletes. And you're harassing them!? Oh man, stay tuned for that one.

Related to that: you go after the powerful, but you also have videos where you talk about conspiracy theorists. Why do you think people are so attracted to these conspiracy theories about the disease?

Because, and it's sad to say, I think a good portion of this country is stupid. If you believe the Earth is flat, do me a favor: go to the edge of the Earth, look down, take a picture. I want to see the edge of the Earth. All these conspiracy theories, just stop. Just listen to the experts. Listen to Dr. Fauci, go to Google, get your facts. That's another problem. People just blatantly lie and then the sheeple believe it and that's how rumors start. Just listen to the experts. Just relax, take a deep breath.

Some of the messages I get, your head would explode. People, please, don't get me started. It's too early.

People who become voices for the working class get caught in this Catch-22 where once they're famous enough to actually have a voice, people start dismissing them or their arguments for no longer being representative of the working class. So what do you think is the best way to get people to actually listen to working class concerns?

That's a good question. God, I don't know man. Some people tell me I forgot where I came from—"You're a bigshot now." Look, I'm just a regular guy giving my opinion. Where it goes from there, it's out of my hands.

Visit his YouTube channel for more Vic DiBitetto, or check out his official site for updates on upcoming shows, including a possible virtual show on Zoom.

Vic DiBitetto Breaks Down His Swear-Fueled 'Message to the Government' For Us | Culture