Question: In your moving tribute to George Carlin, you credit him with inspiring you to periodically start from scratch with your material. do you believe that that would benefit most comics? Would a Mitch Hedberg or a Steven Wright -- that is, a comic that does tight one-liners -- be able to do the same? Do you think it would benefit a new comic to start such a practice early?
Answer: everybody is different. some comedy is more "musical" like steven. he is a pillar of comedy to me. He invented a whole form and all his jokes are poems. so it's different. I wanted to do it like george. now i do it like me.
I think there's a million ways to do things. there was a pitcher for the Yankees once named Orlando Hernandez or "el Duque" he was a cuban exile. A thing they said about him was he was hard to hit cause he had so many arm angles and release points. a hitter studies a pitcher and watches for the ball so he can time it, but with el duque, you don't even know where the fucker is coming from. Nine o clock? Eleven? And does he let go of it up top or out front? Impossible. I sometimes think of comedy in those terms.
I think when you see the word 'clean' associated with comedy, a lot of people think that that's the point of it. "Like, 'Oh he's trying to be wholesome. He's trying to make a statement.' And that's not it at all. There are comedians out there who work dirty who I think are great. But I found that that didn't feel natural to me. You want to feel like you're as in-the-moment as possible. You want to feel real. And that stuff doesn't feel real to me.
Question: How annoying is it to be compared to daniel tosh all the time?
Answer: Great question. It's a little annoying, but I understand it. We're both tall white dudes on comedy central who say edgy shit. But we're very different. I think people compare us because they just like comparing things. I used to get Mitch Hedberg a lot, even though I couldn't be more different. But we both told one liners, so there you go. I also think some people just don't know that much about comedy. It would be like a person who didn't know anything about football thinking all offensive linemen are the same.
I've always been fascinated by dark subjects, especially people's reactions to them. Why are people so uncomfortable talking about death if everyone dies? And why do people sometimes laugh at these horrible things? And why do they seem to laugh harder when it's about a dark subject? Plus, no one else seemed to be doing it.
I just noticed that audiences didn't want to laugh at me because of the way I looked, so I just went with that. It seemed fun to play a villain on stage and I wanted my jokes to be so good that I could just calmly tell them on stage. I didn't want to show any neediness. It was important to me to be cool up there.
Well I should say... alright, I would curse occasionally in my act. When I started doing sets on Letterman and Conan, for network practices, legal practices, I would have to remove curse words. And what I found, is that, occasionally I'd have to remove those curse words, I would realize that the joke wasn't finished really, that I'd just throw in a curse word here and there.
One year I did Conan like ten times when I was doing Pale Force, so then I'd just starting writing without the curse words in it. But I am someone who curses in everyday life, and I also feel that the curse words were not necessary; given that I'm talking about camping or donuts, that contributed to it also. It's weird b...
I'm considered a "clean comedian" or "family friendly comedian," but that's just how it comes out. There's no incredible calculation behind being clean or family friendly; comedians talk about what they can get away with. Chris Rock or Lewis Black are just gonna do the type of comedy that they're going to do. If you know them, it makes sense what type of comedy that they're doing. I'm always hesitant to be identified as a clean comedian because all comedians, whether they be clean, female or African American or transgender, the only adjective they want is to be funny.
I sometimes I feel as though "clean" is this asterisk that kind of disqualifies some of my success. People are not coming to...
I’ve learned that if I foul it up, if I pause wrong or stumble over a word, the joke doesn’t go as good, and sometimes it doesn’t even go at all. It’s so much about timing. If there’s a three-second gap and I don’t say the next joke, I can lose the whole thing.
It really is a lesson I realized early on: You better know what you’re gonna say and say it the right way. Even if I wasn’t doing one-liners, even if it more traditional, telling stories, I’d still have to say it in the exact right way. It’s just how my brain works. I’m lucky all of this just meshed, you know? I didn’t decide to talk like this or sound like this. The surreal jokes and the voice just worked together. It was all by acci...
I was slightly observational at first, going back to my early, early open mics. I was just writing any joke, because I wanted to be a real comedian. But my personality was always there and some of my material naturally became about me — about looking Jewish or hairy or whatever — and people liked that. Your voice and your persona will come out of that, the more you're comfortable with it. So when I tried to fit myself into a Seinfeld mold and I didn't get the laughs, that brought me out. And then comedians said, "Keep doing that." And then it was all about honing it and writing jokes for it. But if you ask me, honestly, I wish I could just go up and do jokes. Boom boom boom bing bing and I'm...
I always hate seeing performers going out and saying things like ‘I would like to talk seriously about the current political situation.’ Fuck that. I came here for the jokes, and that’s hopefully why people come to see me, as well.
It’s what you call evergreen topical. ’Cause most people don’t know anything. I learned on The Tonight Show, once you get past secretary of state, nobody has any idea who you’re talking about. They just don’t know anything. So you have to talk about, How ’bout the ECONOMY? And CONGRESS?
I’m 100 percent okay with it. For a while it was like, I don’t want to be a Moth person. Not like that’s bad, but the Moth is usually looking for one-offs from humans that have one incredible, life-changing story. But comedy’s evolved and there’s something for everybody, and more than ever, my people kind of find me. Of course, in a comedy club, you have a lot of seats to fill. I’m popular in some markets more than others, and so I can feel when it’s like 30-70, 50-50, 80-20 my people.
I think that i share everything as a way of not feeling guilty about it or shame about it. If i am able to put it out there it is not weighing me down. I say things that I shouldn't and that i wish i could take back, but that's just the way. I. am.
The nervous energy for me is the entire show. That comes from a place of “will this show be fun, will it work, will it fall on its face?” I try not to do too much with any of my characters other than just say the same material as this person. It all came out of boredom really. I didn’t have any new ideas or jokes to work on, which scared the shit out of me, so I decided to do what I had as different people. It became so much fun to do that I decided to just keep it as a thing and work on it. That sort of led to writing a few bits that were specific to the characters. I’m sure it will fade eventually. My german character makes fewer appearances. I’m sort of addicted to the southern preacher g...