TOM SEGURA INTERVIEW
A Los Angeles resident by way of Florida, Tom Segura presents a lackadaisical, “everyman” persona while on stage. Though sloth may be a part of who Tom is, once you peer behind the Wizard’s Curtain you understand you’ve been manipulated, and I mean that as a compliment. What people don’t immediately see in Tom’s on-stage presence is the mind of a relentless professional; only at the end of his set does the audience realize Tom knew exactly what he was doing, and how he was in control of the room the entire time.
Tom doesn’t rush in to situations, or create checklists simply for the case of doing so; many comedians try and put out a CD after only being in the game a year or two. The material is usually substandard, because in the early years of your career, you’re simply not all that good. Tom waited almost eight years to record his first CD, “Thrilled.” The material has been tested time and time again, continually tweaked in front of hundreds of audiences. Tom knew the CD would be a reflection of who he was, and he wanted the jokes to be as tight as possible before committing them to history.
Rooftop had comic Nathan Timmel give Tom a call to talk about the “Thrilled,” as well as comedy in general.
NT: How did you come up with the title, “Thrilled?” Is it sort of a Michael Jackson homage, only in the past tense, seeing as he’s dead he’s no longer a “thriller?” [note: I had not seen the CD cover before asking this question]
TS: You know, I’d love to be able to take credit for it, but what happened is: I typed up twenty-five titles I was considering, and people were laughing, and saying, “maybe this one, or this one,” when my buddy’s wife just said, “What about Thriller, Two?” I just started to laugh hysterically at that, I really thought it was funny that there could be a sequel to “Thriller.”
I pitched the idea to Rooftop, and they were a little hesitant. They wondered if I was walking on a fine line with copyright infringement, I think, so I just tossed out “Thrilled,” because it has it’s own meaning. Plus, I really wanted to have a cover like the “Thriller” album, because with me in that pose… it’s just too ridiculous. And on top of that, I love that if someone is looking up the number one best-selling album of all time, mine is one letter off from it. It makes me laugh to imagine someone could be looking to buy Michael Jackson’s album and end up looking at mine.
NT: So I was making a joke about Michael when you told me the name, and I accidentally got it right. You’re working off the same method as porn sites on line, where if you’re one letter off, you end up viewing a clip of “donkey-punching,” instead of, well, whatever reason you might have been looking up donkeys.
TS: Yeah. [Laughs] It’s a big joke. I’ve had flyers made up of the cover, and it’s funny when people don’t get it right away, and they sort of stutter politely, “Oh, um, that’s a, um, very nice suit you’re wearing. Very interesting.” But the people that do get it, they laugh at the fact I’m in the exact same position Michael was in on his cover.
NT: So you’re out there, pushing the CD in advance of the release.
TS: Yeah, I’ve been doing a decent amount of shows lately, so I pass flyers out after each show. It has the album cover on it, and it has the release date, and where it will be available. I’m just trying to get it out there.
NT: Where did you record the disc?
TS: I recorded it at Acme, in Minneapolis. I luckily got in there somehow…
NT: [Interrupts, laughing] You have powerful management you turd, don’t talk about luck.
TS: [Laughs] I mean, I was lucky to get in there.
NT: It’s all in the phrasing.
TS: Exactly. [Laughs] I was there a year ago, and it was incredible. Of all the clubs I’ve been to, and there are some great ones out there, there was never a bad crowd in Minneapolis. I mean, the thing I liked about it, is: in your act, you have those jokes that are sort of “for you,” where certain people get it, but it’s not always the one everybody laughs at. I felt like, in that club, everyone got everything, even the subtle stuff. Even if it was a tag or a sarcastic throwaway line, the people at those shows were amazing and just on top of it. They just laughed at everything. So I knew I wanted to record there when I went back, and that’s what happened. On my next time through, I recorded the disc. I also knew Rooftop had equipment there from my first time through, so when I was thinking about recording my shows, I contacted them and it just snowballed from there. They had the recording setup, and I didn’t have to do much else but show up and tell jokes.
NT: How long is “Thrilled?”
TS: It’s fifty-two minutes. I recorded an hour, but I edited out eight minutes because the bit was pretty visual. When I thought about it, I didn’t want a joke on there that you kind of had to see to get the full effect. Other than that, the CD was recorded in one show, and it represents all eight years I’ve been a stand-up comedian.
NT: What other projects are you working on right now?
TS: I’ve been writing a lot; I wrote on a couple pilots this past season, and it’d be nice to have one of those picked up and get hired on there…
NT: [Interrupts] You really are married; you’re already sick of the road and all domesticated. You want a real job and to go home every night to the wife.
TS: [Laughs] I do, man. It was so great writing on these shows, because I got spoiled. I’d write all day, then drive home and have dinner with the wife. I’d forgotten what that was like, I’m so used to being in an airport on Tuesday mornings and away from home all the time. I love the road, and I love performing, but it’s nice to take a break from the travel aspect. But writing aside, I’m also making my own short films, even directing them, which I love, and auditioning a lot.
NT: When did you make the jump to directing shorts? I remember we were all doing little projects when I lived out there; did that inspire you at all?
TS: Oh, absolutely. Being a part of all those little projects we did was great. It made me realize that if you call people, and you’re excited about a project, you can get them excited.
NT: Because people just love being creative.
TS: Exactly. Exactly. You realize that in our business, there is a gigantic majority of stuff you cannot control. But the one thing you can control is your effort and ability to be creative. You can write jokes every day. You can get a camera and try and film something. No matter what happens on the business end of it, you can still be creative, and that’s a great thing.
“Thrilled” will be available everywhere fine comedy is sold Tuesday, May 11th, 2010.
You can find all your Tom Segura information at TomSegura.com