After selling tens of copies of my first book, I had at least three people ask, “When is the next one coming out?”
Three years and two months later, boom: new book.
Here’s the back cover description:
First steps, first word, first time pooping in the bathtub… as a stand-up comedian, Nathan Timmel missed numerous milestones during the first year of his daughter’s life. Traveling from town to town, he spent his night slinging jokes while his daughter Hillary discovered the world around her.
As she turned one, Nathan vowed to be a part of her life even when far from home. Writing a letter a week, Nathan tells his toddler where he is and tries to give context to her world: why Daddy travels, why a baby brother or sister isn’t the end of theworld, and the importance of dismantling the pharmacy section at Target.
It’s OK to Talk to Animals (and Other Letters from Dad) is a touching, funny, and introspective glimpse into a comedian-turned-father’s hopes for—and apologies to—his baby girl.
Top Five is a column in which we talk to stand up comics who have just released their own album about their five favorite comedy albums of all time.
Everyone has a friend like Mike Brody. He’s the buddy that manages to stay cool under pressure, despite a clumsy manner and instinctive sense of humor that keeps everyone around him in stitches. They may not always be around when you need them most, but like all great humorist they’re always right on time. Mike has spent his entire stand up career aiming to perfect the art of comedic timing, so when he lists his top 5 comedy albums it’s sure to have a few comics so good you could set a watch by them. So without further delay here’s Mike Brody with his Top 5 Comedy Albums Of All Time and remember, you’re on the clock. Go!
I started comedy in the early 2000s in Iowa, and I remember thinking that most of the comics that came through my home club were super antiquated and hacky. So whenever I had a small one-nighter gig, you’d hear club/bar owners talking about how Hedberg had been there years before and bombed the hardest anybody has ever bombed. But always, without exception, they’d say “But I knew he’d be famous!” Sure you did! All the dive-bar owners in Brainerd had the eye for talent! That’s what I love about Mitch. He did it his way until people couldn’t deny him anymore. Before Hedberg, comedy had kind of lost it’s goofiness. It was a bit stale.”Is this all there is?” I thought. It was pre-Youtube. Then I saw Hedberg’s Comedy Central special and my mind was blown. Yogurt jokes! Koala bears! WHAT?! I must have played Strategic Grill Locations 100,000 times. Then I actually got to be in the audience for the recording of Mitch All Together. Play those two albums back to back…you can actually hear the difference between the effects of marijuana and cocaine when you do it. I still get sad that he’s dead. We need him.
Can I count this as an album? It’s a VHS, but I think it’s up on Youtube. This was my first exposure to Hicks. People have copied and watered him down so much now that newer comics can’t grasp how different he was. So many “edgy” comics have aped his style that if you watch it now, it seems kind of ordinary. BUT THIS WAS 1989! Think about what was happening comedically in 1989. There were geniuses, but there were also a lot of airplane peanuts. Now consider that Hicks was doing flag-burning jokes in front of mulletheads in Texas. He was ahead of his time and (for better or worse) changed the tone of comedy forever. Plus, those weird psychedelic screens and pauses in the video tripped me out.
Hey, he’s alive! I was admittedly late to the game with Bill Burr. Everybody kept raving about how funny he was and I just never got around to listening to him. Then one day I got the CD/DVD of Let It Go. I was driving home from a road gig, so I put the CD on and loved it. And yet I couldn’t figure out something about him. He was hilarious, but how was he getting these people to like him so much? The jokes were so wonderfully evil. Then I got home and put the DVD in. OH, I GET IT! He smiles! He’s charming! He shrugs his shoulders! Bill Burr is a master at being the winking asshole. Not literally, of course. That would be weird. I mean that he’s the asshole that we all respect and want to be. Also, his podcast is magnificent. Bill Burr equally brings me joy and sadness. Joy because he’s at the peak of his genius right now and sadness because GODDAMNIT I wish I was that good. He gets my vote for best in the business right now.
Holy shit, I don’t know if there’s a better storyteller today than Mike Birbiglia. Joey Bag-o-Donuts, the story about the cancer benefit, the Roger Clemens story! They’re all gold. The dude’s a master at being so likeable. He could tell a story about helping Jerry Sandusky break out of prison and he’d win us over. We’d be like “Go! Go Mike! Set him free!” Telling a great story isn’t about just droning on and then having a big punch line at the end. It’s like kicking a ball up a hill. You got to keep tapping it the whole way or else it’s going to roll backwards. Birbiglia has that on lock-down. His stories are hilarious from beginning to end, and he still manages to have the endings have a big payoff. Really, I’m in awe of this guy. And if you haven’t seen his movie “Sleepwalk With Me”, you need to yesterday.
I don’t want to sound jaded, but after you do comedy awhile you kind of stop wanting to hear comedy every day. It’s not that you don’t still love it, but it’s like The Matrix. You see “the code”; you appreciate it, and even enjoy it. But you don’t laugh out loud anymore. At best, you think in your head “Oh wow, that’s really funny” with a stoneface. Joe Derosa’s “The Depression Auction” had me laughing my ass off. I literally LOLed. There’s just something about east coast comics. They have a swagger that you have to be raised with. The one about how he’s politically stupid but easily lead, the one about doing comedy at an Insane Clown Posse concert, the one about how nobody wants to go to your wedding: brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. He’s a loser and a winner. He’s a dick, but he’s vulnerable. Aren’t we all?
Mike Brody’s album, That’s Not What I Meant, was released on April 24th, 2012 on Rooftop Comedy Productions. It is available on Amazon, iTunes, and Bandcamp.
Top Five is a column in which we talk to stand up comics who have just released their own album about their five favorite comedy albums of all time.
Alvin Williams looks to deliver some cheer to the world with his new stand-up comedy album “I Hope You’re Happy“. Alvin is constantly traveling to entertain audiences in comedy clubs across the country, and sometimes things can get a little stressful for him out on the road. So we asked him to list the top 5 comedy albums that bring a little joy into his life when things on the road get tough, and he happily obliged. So here is Alvin Williams with his top 5 comedy albums.
Eddie Murphy is my all-time favorite comic. I wish he would have done more specials but considering his jokes are still hilarious 30 years later, I don’t blame him. My dad used to take me on a lot of road trips as a kid, and he would always buy tapes from the clearance section of video stores. I found this one, he bought it, and the rest is history. Still one of the most memorable road trips I ever had. We listened to the album 3 times! Everything that Eddie talked about I could relate to, and his impressions were so perfect! I still can’t look at Mr. T, Ricky Ricardo or Ralph Kramden without thinking of this album. A must-have even now!
First and Foremost, I think all of George Carlin’s albums could have been my Top 5. To me he is the best comedic writer the world has ever produced. He can do anything with any subject and any audience. I chose this album because it was the first time I had heard a comedy album without an audience. I’ve always wanted to do one of these myself, but I would probably need to put out 50 years of genius first before people would buy it, soooo….I’ll wait. Carlin’s genius is on full display in this album, and I appreciate it even more because it’s like he’s going over the written jokes in a notebook before he has to convert them to an audience-friendly presentation. That’s the way we all really want to present the joke, in its purest form. Every time I hear it I feel smarter!
I love Seinfeld’s work, because it’s laugh out loud funny, but also clean. When I think of the perfect set, this one comes to mind. I heard it on audio first before I saw this performance on HBO. I was in high school when I first heard this and it was the first time I heard a comic and went “That’s EXACTLY what I was thinking! I thought it was just ME.” He’s the gold standard in mainstream comedy that appeals to everyone and this album is a testament to his hard work. Plus I love the concept of “retiring” material and never using it again. I’ve tried to retire material but sometimes I’m on the road and a joke is WAY too perfect not to use. Kudos Jerry, hope you do another one soon!
Chris Rock is the guy I tried to model myself after: Be funny AND have something important to say. His social commentary is so spot on it just blows my mind how somebody can be that funny and that socially relevant all at the same time! I’ve watched all of Chris Rock’s specials but this is the only album I owned. I actually bought it because of the Champagne Song. SO FUNNY. Watch the video on your lunch break and it will be stuck in your head the rest of the day! Also, this album has the best bit to end all bits: Not sure where this publication is being sent, so for the sake of not being censored, I’ll just say it’s the bit where he differentiates between the various types of black people.
Dane Cook in my opinion was a victim of his own whirlwind success. He’s viewed now as if he was this all-energy but no substance comic, and that’s the furthest thing from the truth. I think over time it just became cool to not like Dane Cook. But I was always a Dane Cook fan and I cannot deny the influence this album had on me. My college roommate had this playing in his car and it reminded me of when I first heard the Eddie Murphy Comedian album. Playing the tracks over and over again. This is the album that made me want to do stand-up. Not just a fantasy of being a comic, but actually getting on a stage and DOING it. This album was perfect. PERFECT. I still tell stories “Tarantino Style” in my everyday life because of this album. It’s just BETTER that way! I hope that 20 years from now people won’t be jealous of Dane’s rapid success and appreciate the body of work he has put forth. Anyway, if you’re just a Dane-hater but you’ve never heard him, this is truly worth a listen!
Alvin Williams’s album, I Hope You’re Happy, was released on June 3rd, 2014 on Rooftop Comedy Productions. It is available on Amazon, iTunes, and Bandcamp.
Rooftop contributing writer Nathan Timmel is at it again: another 99-Cent mini-eBook is out.
This time Nathan is writing about his minor experiences with Scientology.
What’s he have to say?
Read an excerpt…
In 1989 I moved to Boston, MA, to attend the Berklee College of Music.
(Motto: “For just $40,000 you get a degree that makes you unemployable.”)
Newbury Street—a happening little avenue filled with many nifty little shops—was close by, and when bored my friends and I would often meander the length of its eight blocks. We would pop in and out of eclectic stores and coffee houses, and when the weather was nice be politely harassed by well-dressed people asking, “Would you like to take a personality quiz?”
For the better part of two years, our answer was “Nope,” but one day a trio of idiots out carousing—my friends Barrett, Peite (yes, that’s how he spells it), and I—were bored enough to say, “What the hell: Yes.”
We thought it would be a quick, five-minute process of being asked silly questions while standing on the street corner, but the cute young woman—and of course she was a cute young woman; you think we would have stopped to talk to a man?—told us to follow her lead and headed north. Well, shit. This was going to eat up more time than we had initially planned, but decided to Prefontaine it across the finish line and followed along.
We walked several blocks to Beacon St. where a Scientology Center awaited us. It was a magnificent, old school converted-home, made of brick and with a castle-like rounded spire on the corner—a tower from which Rapunzel could drop her lockets and be rescued, so to speak. Little was known about Scientology back then, and the Internet didn’t exist for anyone to simply Google-up and Wikipedia an explanation. Basically, we had no clue what we were getting into.
We were shown in, and immediately two things happened: first, our recruiter was greeted as if Norm from Cheers. Everyone knew her; everyone loved her. Everyone was happy, smiling and ready to shake your hand.
“Angela! So happy to see you! Who’s this with you? Nathan? Nice to meet you Nathan, I’m Bob! We’re happy to have you with us today…”
It was a neat trick used to make lonely people feel welcome and relaxed; “Wow, everyone here is like one big happy family. I should hang out with them, and then I’ll be popular, too!” Personally, it made me wonder what Kool Aid everyone was drinking. There’s naturally friendly, and overly friendly. This was the latter by a mile, and I became suspicious.
The second thing to happen was the most important event of the day: divide and conquer. Like a wingman removing the fat chick from her delicious friend, we three traveling companions were separated from one another and taken to different sections of the main room. Once isolated, we were introduced to the person who was going to administer (or monitor) our “Personality Quiz.”
(Naturally, we were all left thinking, “Wait… we came here on the whim of talking to the pretty girl… Where is… Hey she’s leaving…” Very bait and switch classic; use beauty to bring in the gangly and awkward college student lacking self-confidence, then have said beauty skedaddle her pear-shaped heinie away. Kudos, Scientology. Kudos.)
For reasons I can’t explain, when I was a child I began doing something most adults don’t even do: reading the credits during (and after) a movie. I found it fascinating one could be set in Detroit, yet say “Filmed in Los Angeles” at the end.
Within the span of a few short years, I noticed the movies I enjoyed the most had one thing in common: Harold Ramis. His name would pop up all over the place.
It started innocently enough, when I saw Animal House. “Written by” was something I liked taking note of; who was behind the hilarity I was seeing? Then he directed Caddyshack… wrote and starred in Stripes…
(Side Note: I remember seeing Stripes and being enthralled when John Winger’s girlfriend entered her scene while topless. I had the thought, “Is that what a relationship is like? Full of awesomely casual nudity?” It looked like the best thing ever… until she dumped him one minute later.)
Harold Ramis was the complete package: he could write, act, direct, and produce. And not only could he do each of those things, he could do them well. It wasn’t like a movie star saying, “I want to direct” and creating some haphazard mess; Ramis was a master across the board.
For a while, it seemed like he could only get better. He followed movies like Vacation and Stripes with Ghostbusters, and then followed that with Groundhog Day, which may have been his plateau.
(I’m fully aware he didn’t direct all of those films; I’m discussing anything he had a hand in.)
I enjoyed his later work—Analyze This! and even Multiplicity—but he will always be remembered for his classic work of the late 1970s and the decade known as the 80s.
Sadly, I didn’t even know he had fallen ill. To find that at one point he had to learn to walk again was tough to read.
It is a sad day for the planet when Justin Bieber, Chris Brown, and Lindsay Lohan are still alive, and Harold Ramis is not.
When you hear Toledo, many things cross your mind: Corporal Klinger and his devotion to the Mud Hens. Ohio. The decades-long run by the now-departed Connxtions Comedy Club, or maybe the current reign of The Funny Bone. It would, however, be hard pressed to find someone hear “Toledo” and respond, “Do you mean the one in Iowa?”
The founders of the Green Gravel Comedy Festival hope to put a change to that. With three members having strong ties to the Hawkeye state, a miniature town in the middle of Iowa was chosen to play host to a new type of comedy festival.
Rooftop’s Nathan Timmel—a fella participating in the Bomb Shelter Showcase that weekend—fired off an email full of questions, and the kindly Lee Keeler (Festival President) sent back answers.
NT: I apologize for the first question, because I’m sure it’s the one you’re getting the most, but: Why Toledo? I mean, I see all the Iowa connections in the organizers biographies, but those are for Iowa City (college town) and Des Moines (capital; largest city). So… Toledo?
LK: That’s a great question! We’ve been getting that from day one. I am from Sioux City originally, and growing up there was always this belief that a person usually had go into a city to experience a comedy show. We’d like to turn that on its head. This is our opportunity to curate a completely fantastic experience in a charming little town and have something we can completely call our own. Those cities that we’re from have built comedy scenes that are amazing, but we aim to add on to that culture and bring some attention back to small-town Iowa. Geographically, it’s smack-dab in the middle of the greatest populations of young adults in Iowa: Ames, Iowa City, Des Moines and more. Our greatest inspiration has been the Nelsonville Music Festival in Ohio, which has been happening for a few years at a rural opera house and has brought in acts like Wilco, John Prine, Cat Power, etc.
NT: Over the course of the 3-days, how many shows do you plan on producing? Will there be multiple shows at any given time, giving people the option to see Improv, stand-up comedy, or the recording (or broadcasting) of a Podcast?
LK: At this point, we’re looking at something between 15-20 shows throughout the weekend. We are modelling much of scheduling around that of the Limestone Comedy Fest in Indiana (they’ve been amazing mentors, by the way), which usually staggers the appearances of their headliners and the type of comedy to see so everybody has a chance to see a little bit of everything. So if you can’t see Jackie Kashian at the big opera house on Friday night, she’ll be doing a five dollar podcast taping the next afternoon in the Legion Hall.
NT: Define “Alternative Comedy Festival” for people who may not know exactly what you’re presenting.
LK: We want the “alternative” to be in the DNA of every aspect of Green Gravel. Staff/performers will be staying in heated cabins at this great camp on the edge of town with crazy fire pits that’s next to a casino. In that sense, just coming to Green Gravel is meant to be kind of a retreat from the usual “club and motel” rut that performers deal with all the time. As I mentioned before, we want the audience to leave their cities and re-examine what it means to have fun in a small town. In terms of content, we are going to be giving priority to oddball/unique performers that might not have the political know-how to break into some of the existing comedic institutions in the region. We also want tickets to be affordable; our festival is bringing in top talent and will be charging low prices to see them.
NT: Your website says you’ll be offering workshops; are you looking for people interested in getting into comedy/Improv, performers looking to brush up their skills, or both?
LK: The festival will feature classes for both novices and experience performers. They will have an opportunity to learn from some of the best instructors in comedy, including a sketch workshop being taught by Kids in the Hall alum Kevin McDonald! We’re going to be hosting a free Q&A with Kevin so anybody who is curious about the process of comedy can be inspired. There’s also going to be a free class on the history/evolution of stand-up via Mat Alano-Martin. We want Iowa performers and kids to be given the chance to empower themselves with this information so they can go back home and strengthen the comedy scenes within their communities. I’m pretty tired of running into kids from the midwest that have moved out to LA and are taking classes at UCB among a zillion other kids. We need to keep those people in Iowa and grow something there.
NT: You just added your third venue; how many venues do you think you’d like to have running for the festival?
LK: The Wieting Theater will feature some of the larger crowds, we will also have a venue for smaller performances, and a venue for podcasts and classes. We have some overflow venues in mind depending on the amount of submissions.
NT: Your promotional video has some pretty heavy hitters in it—Marc Maron, Jimmy Pardo; any of them making the trek into the heartland?
LK: We’re still a new thing, so it’s hard to get performers of that magnitude right out of the gate. The fest is going to have multiple headliners that will be very well-known to those that follow alternative comedy and sketch comedy. We have already announced that Jackie Kashian, who hosts The Dork Forest podcast, will be making the trip from LA. We will also have some of Chicago’s very finest up-and-comers: Junior Stopka, Mike Lebovitz and Martin Morrow. Also Mat Alano-Martin is coming in from Indiana, he’s amazing. We’re also proud to take this opportunity to announce that Kevin McDonald from The Kids in the Hall will also be a headliner!
Very psyched to be heading back to San Francisco this month, my favorite city with the first name “San.” Sorry Diego. I am headlining at the Punchline Jan 15-18th. I love San Francisco, the variety of foods, the varied cultures, the Bay, but you need more bridges … and bigger ones! The crowds are always great comedy audiences – I can’t wait to come back and I always have a blast in the city. In fact, I wish it would stay open later. 2:30am? Come on! By the time I’m done with my shows that leaves me barely an hour to visit some local watering holes, have a few cocktails and engage in illegal cockfighting. Hope to see you at the Punchline Jan 15-18th. And check out my podcast “The Paul Mecurio Show” on iTunes (http://bit.ly/paulmecurio). I’ve interviewed, Sir Paul McCartney, Stephen Colbert, Rob Corddry, Jay Leno, and The Host of Mythbusters, to name a few.
Paul has won an Emmy & Peabody Award for his work on “The Daily Show w/Jon Stewart.” He is a regular on “Red Eye w/Greg Gutfeld” on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC and has been seen on “The Late Late Show” on CBS, “Conan” and has had his own special on Comedy Central.
We sat down with Tabari McCoy to talk about the Cincinnati comedy scene and his sophomore release on Rooftop Comedy Productions, “Laughing With a Panther.” Check out the preview and enjoy the cover art!
Rooftop Comedy(RC):How has Cincinnati’s comedy scene influenced your comedy?
Cincinnati’s comedy scene has influenced me in one very specific fashion: It’s allowed me to get better by inspiring me to get better. Sure, we’re not New York. No, we’re not Los Angeles. OK, we’re not Chicago, San Francisco or even (insert your city here so that you will like me and feel better about me by thinking I gave a shout out to your city’s scene). But I will say this: We have had and still have a lot of talented comedians who have come through the Cincinnati scene: Greg Warren, Josh Sneed, Ryan Singer, Geoff Tate, Dave Waite, my best friend in comedy/Rooftop label mate Mike Cody … Even Katt Williams has Cincinnati/Dayton area connections – my point being the scene here has influenced me simply because it’s made me get better.
RC: What is the best thing about the Cincinnati comedy scene and why do you feel it’s unique?
OK, here comes my long-winded response, edited for those with short attention spans/ADHD/better things to do than read along as I babble on. If you’re going to perform in Cincinnati and you’re serious about becoming a good comic, you’re going to get better because there are more opportunities to get on stage here than one might think, the majority of the comedy outlets here CARE about developing good comedians and the audiences here know a good, original comedian from someone just going up on stage and spewing nonsense. Likewise, the comedians here are not all the same – you have urban comics, alternative comics, storytelling comics, one-liner comics, gay, disabled, single, married, younger, older – we are like the IKEA of comedy: People drive from miles around to come visit us, find at least one thing they like even if they act like they’re just browsing and then come back again to eat the food they all talk about like they don’t like it to outsiders. And yes, that was a chili reference.
What makes our scene unique, though, is the fact that Cincinnati draws comics from Bloomington, IN – which has a GREAT scene of its own – Dayton, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Louisville and Lexington who all WANT to work here. I think that says something about Cincinnati, other than the fact it has several major highways that connect and pass through Cincinnati.
RC: Who do you most admire on your scene right now?
I always joke about it and recently said it to him, but you have to give Geoff Tate credit for the fact that if that dude eats a sandwich, he’ll have 15 new minutes of material. His turnaround time from pen to stage is Louis C.K.-like, save for the TV series, the movie roles, the Conan appearances, the Rolling Stone cover … Well, you get the point.
To get it recorded and sell it! What kind of question is that?! Seriously though, I really wanted to record an album for a couple reasons: One, to prove to all these bookers/managers/talent agents that I should be booked in their clubs as I have the time necessary to go on stage, do a good job and in the words of Eric B. & Rakim, “move the crowd.” Two, I have about 90 minutes of material in my head – I literally forgot 15 minutes of jokes I MEANT to get on the album – and I wanted to get it recorded to retire some of it and force myself to work on newer, better and more tightly written material, using this album as a “jumping off” point. Last but not least, I wanted to get this album recorded because I have no idea how far I’ll go in comedy , but I will always have proof that I did this, I made people laugh and no one can ever take that away from me (cue introspective, Denzel Washington in Malcolm X-style music).
RC: I had to have the reference of the cover art explained to me. Can you do me a favor and tell us about that and why you chose that particular parody?
Here are a few things about me that anyone who really knows me will tell you is true: I love hip-hop. Like, LOVE hip-hop (but not the show “Love & Hip-Hop;” that show is just “ratchet” as the kids say). And I can rap, especially freestyle, very well. I used to emcee battles when I was in college BEFORE the movie 8 Mile came out, son! Thus, it’s safe to say that my love of hip-hop and for groups like A Tribe Called Quest, EPMD, Kid N Play, Digital Underground and The Pharcyde among others runs deep.
Back when I was a kid, though, LL Cool J was pretty much the top dog as far as solo emcees go – and his album Walking With A Panther is still one of the most original, crazy, ‘what in the world inspired THIS?!’ covers of all-time. Wanting to avoid the standard comedy album cover where it’s a guy (or gal, let’s be fair to both genders) making some kind of wacky face and incorporate my love of hip-hop, I started looking through my hundreds of CDs and vinyl and was like ‘What can I parody that will still accomplish both goals and still be funny, almost inside-joke level for those in the know and intriguing enough for people who don’t so that they’ll go ‘What is this?!’ Then, I saw LL Cool J headline a concert this summer with De La Soul, Doug E. Fresh & the Get Fresh Crew (with Slick Rick!) and Public Enemy and I was like, “Yup – I’ve got my title/cover.”
So thank you, James Todd Smith – I may be critical of some of your acting roles, I’ll forever be a fan of you on the M-I-C.
RC: How do you set goals for yourself in comedy and what does your daily comedy work schedule look like?
My goals for comedy are quite simple in terms of how I set them:  Keep working to become a better and better comedian that can perform in front of all different kinds of audiences because  You never know when you might get a call to do a show that could change your fortunes for the better (or worse, if you’re not prepared) and  whenever I think of something funny/have something funny that happens to me, WRITE IT DOWN IMMEDIATELY.
Besides those things, my comedy schedule consists of the following:  Call clubs/email bookers weekly if not daily. When you have no agent and don’t live in L.A. or New York, you have to work 10 times harder MINIMUM to get booked. (Who knew the key to playing Lexington, Kentucky, Kansas City, Baltimore, Denver and/or Milwaukee was living thousands of miles away?);  Read about as much comedy happenings online as possible to stay up on the industry;  Remember to ENJOY comedy.
I started doing stand-up for being a fan of stand-up for years. Comedians are our last, completely honest truth-tellers in society: You can say something in a joke that is very poignant and it’s hard to cry when you’re too busy laughing. The ability to go up on stage, share your thoughts, opinions, experiences and perspective to make a complete stranger laugh and forget about their own troubles is the greatest power of all-time, save for money, athletic ability, revolutionary technology … You know what? I think I’ve just made myself sad, so I’m going to stop here and just tell people to buy the album!
Paul Mecurio talks with Rob Corddry from “Children’s Hospital,” “The Daily Show,” “Pain & Gain,” and “Hot Tub Time Machine.” Paul and Rob worked together on “The Daily Show!” In this episode of The Paul Mecurio Show they talk about “Children’s Hospital,” their days on “The Daily Show,” how Rob copied Stephen Colbert’s character, responding to people on twitter, Rob’s fascination with Michael Bay and what it is about his sweat glands that require him to have a giant industrial strength air conditioner!
A few weeks ago my co-worker, Dominic Del Bene, pointed me to a blog post from AdamHammer.com entitled “Where the F*CK have I been???” It’s a good idea to read that first. In it, Adam explains that in 2012, his father went to jail for lewd and lascivious acts with a minor(“some To Catch a Predator type stuff”) where he died. Dealing with the family crisis sent his personal life and career into a tailspin. Depression, alcohol, rage…Not a good combination. I couldn’t believe how raw the story and writing was. It was like getting pounded in a bare knuckle fight and left me feeling like the wind had been knocked out of me. Brutal. It was so crazy that I wanted to know more about the story and how these events have effected Adam’s stand-up and he was gracious enough to answer my questions.
Before the Q/A I wanted to start with something Adam included in an email towards the beginning of our correspondence.
“I should probably mention that I’m so open and honest about this stuff because of Robert Schimmel. I toured with him for a couple of years and the way he got through losing a son to cancer, a messy divorce, his own cancer and all the other shit that happened to him was to talk about it and not seek sympathy, but laughs. It feels better to have people laughing with you than telling you they’re sorry. Unfortunately, that comes with a risk of sounding calloused. The only way to find other people who may have gone through something similar is to talk about it. And just hearing you’re not alone is therapeutic in itself.”
Gotta love Robert Schimmel.
RC(Rooftop Comedy): Did you do jokes about your father before all this happened? What were they like?
Yes. Sort of. Here’s a video:
RC: How did his role in your life shape your comedy?
-I learned what wasn’t funny from him and did the opposite. My uncles taught me how to make people laugh. My dad wasn’t funny. He tried and failed miserably. The over-parenting I got shaped my rebellion. Which in turn shaped my pursuit of comedy. Only because I never had the patience to learn an instrument. I was never destined to have a desk job.
RC: Are you afraid that your new bits about your father are too dark?
-No. I’m afraid they aren’t worked out enough. I need to make sure I’m making jokes, not getting therapy. There’s no such thing as too dark. And my bits aren’t dark, they’re honest. They’re uncomfortable, but the people that get it, get it.
RC: Do you think this will forever color your comedy in a certain way?
-Which color? Blue? My jokes have colored me blue long before this. I’ve always taken a “question the answers” approach in my joke writing. For over a decade I’ve talked about the positives of drug use, how drunk drivers are safer than sober drivers (67% of all fatal car accidents are caused by sober people), how deadbeat dads don’t get enough credit for giving us great men, how my plan if I get cancer is to run up a massive credit card bill then go to jail. I try to challenge conventional thinking. I think this subject matter falls in line. Not a lot of comics can find the funny in molestation accusations. It’s all just a challenge for me.
RC: Why do you think it’s important to talk about this on stage?
-I think comedy is a great way to find people with common experiences. Like, I didn’t know any other kids tried putting leaves on a broken bone until I heard Brian Regan do a bit about it. That was great. I don’t think anything is important to talk about on stage though. We’re entertainers. Not artists. Not politicians. I just can’t come up with anything as funny as Brian Regan’s leaf bit. So I make jokes about my dead gay dad.
RC: You mentioned on your blog that these events put your comedy career into a nose dive. Were you ever close to quitting?
-Not quitting. Just grasping at straws. I was on a pretty steady upward trajectory before this shit went down. Then, my momentum drastically changed. I can’t quit. I may never make it. But I can’t quit. It’s been 13 years since I started. Close to 7 since I’ve had a day job. Not only do I not want to quit, I can’t. Try explaining a 7 year gap on your resume when you’re applying for a square job. I got to the point of applying for jobs last year before I had a project come through. Delivery driver jobs and shit. I have a college degree and that’s the only interview I got. The way that I got in the room is that all my cover letter said was “I have a clean driving record. I’ve never been in jail, and I speak English. I’d love to meet you for an interview.” After sending out at least a hundred letters, that’s the one that got me in the room. Luckily I picked up a writing/producing gig and didn’t have to deliver fish.
RC: What advice do you have for comics coping with a personal struggle?
I’m not religious or involved in any 12 step programs but I was dragged into them when I was a teenager and there is one good thing I picked up: accept the things you cannot change. Change the things you can. Have the wisdom to know the difference. Also, save your money. Always save your money. Even if you’re not going through anything draining, save your money. You’re gonna need it.