Comedy in The Lou


Die Antwoord: The Best Haunted House

Sometimes I go to great lengths for a joke, like committing to a bit that could result in arrest or paying $12 to to learn if my house is haunted.  I attended the Die Antwoord show at The Pageant as a “joke”.  What makes attending a concert a joke?  When you spend the entire concert taking pictures of people you think look weird and not knowing any lyrics aside from the few songs you listened to on Spotify and that one YouTube video you watched from the band three years ago.  It was an expensive $32 joke.

I spent the whole of the opening act’s set drinking beer and smoking outside the Halo Bar.  I was watching all the people come up in their costumes.  There was a bunny, some kind of bear, a man in an orange jumpsuit that said ‘Pizza Machine’.  ‘Pizza Machine’ was later sighted being detained by fire rescue for an unknown, yet obviously drug-related reason.  There were even Juggalos!  Not enough to warrant a gathering of them, but they were showing in nice numbers.

The opening DJ set concluded.  I reupped on beer.  Always have two at a time at a concert to save precious awkwardly bumping into people time.  During this time, an ASL interpreter took the side of the stage.  She was extremely animated and enjoyable to watch, however, if she was signing, I had no idea what she was signing because there was only an instrumental track playing.

The curtain opened and we were greeted by this:

An introduction to Die Antwoord


The visage of the late Leon Botha, an artist and a DJ and the longest survivor of progeria.  Progeria is the disease that the movie ‘Jack’ was based on, but it’s much less fun than Robin Williams made it out to be.  It was at this time, I decided to just pretend I was in a haunted house to cope with what was going on around me.  It’s taken a lot of mental abuse for me to find slipping into a world of monsters comforting, but the environment was perfect.  There were ghosts (more on that later), weird animal/human hybrids walking around, and strobe lights.  This would be the best haunted house I’ve ever attended.

The curtain opens and we’re greeted with DJ Hi-Tek’s intro song.


Ninja and Yolandi came out at the conclusion of that heartfelt intro and launched into presumably one of their songs.  I had no idea what they were saying.  Their South African accents, played up for show I assume, were lost on me.  I only understood the word ‘fok’ as it was also written on some of the stage setup.  This fit in well as at that time, I was picturing them as demons speaking a strange language.  This was easy to do as a short time later, Die Antwoord was joined onstage by faceless dancers.  I did not get a picture of them, so here’s a close approximation:

FACELESS BEINGS, not actually Die Antwoord

Just add lights and glow paint.

I was absolutely delighted by everything that was happening in front of me, but nothing could prepare me for what happened next.

A PH-PH-PHALLUS!  Die Antwoord's friend.

The friendliest ghost.


Then we got to the part of the haunted house where it’s pitch black and you can’t find the exit, but then you realize the exit was a closed cardboard door painted black.

Die Antwoord likes cursing.


Die Antwoord was my favorite haunted house ever.


Shower Debate: Suicide and Con Air

Recently, Henry Rollins made some incendiary comments about suicide and as a person with a Black Flag tattoo and a cat named Henry Pawlins, I was asked by many what I thought about his opinions.  I assure you that having a tattoo of a band someone was in almost 30 years ago does not qualify one to be a spokesperson for that individual.  All I have to say is that suicide is a very complex issue and I would rather not espouse any ideas about it in a public forum.

So how do we settle the important issues of the day?  A shower debate.  Showers are a time of reflection and cleanliness where you are alone with your thoughts and your shampoo.  I recommend making all of your significant life decisions while showering as it will give you a so fresh and so clean clean perspective on the issues affecting you.  Shower on it. Don’t sleep on it.  You’re not able to enter contracts while incapacitated, so don’t make decisions while unconscious.

I want to settle an issue that has plagued humanity since 1997.  Is Con Air the best movie ever?  I hadn’t thought about Con Air in a long time, but I was switching between talk radio stations and one mentioned ‘hostages’ while the other mentioned a missing airplane and I shouted from within my car, “I’m going to watch Con Air!”.  So I gave it an updated viewing.  Does it still stand up?  Like any dilemma I face, I showered on it.  This is the internal and sometimes external monologue that transpired in my shower this morning.  Picture me nude and saturated with soap and water.


POINT: Con Air is the best movie ever!

Badass Con Air Cover

The three-headed beast that is Con Air


Planes, prisoners, pedophiles, Pnicolas Pcage!  This movie has it all.  What’s not to love about a guy who killed a jackass in a bar on account of his jackassery?  (SPOILER ALERT)  The plane is named Jailbird!  An adult sat down and said ‘Fuck everything’, put pen to paper (more likely fingers to keys), and committed to a major Hollywood motion picture script, the word ‘jailbird’ to refer to a plane full of prisoners.  That man then ate two pizzas because he had transcended being and I don’t know how spiritualism works.

Nicolas Cage is flawless in the main role as Cameron Poe. How are we, as a people, not using the phrase ‘Let’s put the bunny down’ as a euphemism for sex? It’s a missed opportunity and advanced aliens who visit us will judge us inferior for it before enslaving us in a massive generation ship named Jailbird.

A plane, devoid of impulse control and a lack of concern for moderation, lands on the Las Vegas strip.  Michael Bay had no hand in this.  Again, another adult sat down and said aloud ‘No gods, no masters’, put digits to plastic, and set in stony paper, ‘Let’s land the fucking Jailbird on the Vegas strip!’.  Notice that I say adult and not man because I believe in equality, ladies.  That adult is now retired living off the royalties from that scene because I don’t know how being paid for art works.

Con Air - Jailbird

The Jailbird plays it fast and loose.

In summary, this is a movie about good and evil that culminates in Nicolas Cage finding freedom via a very above underground railroad.


COUNTER-POINT: Con Air is the worst movie ever!

A child could have come up with Jailbird for the name of a plane full of prisoners.  You could come up with prison transport nicknames all day: Convict Carriage, Prison Plane, Bad Guy Bus.  See, it’s easy.

The writers really missed out on an opportunity to make the main character more badass and call him Cam’ron Poe, but it was 1997, they didn’t know, but I prefer to have forward thinking writers take care of my ‘X on a plane’ movies.

Steve Buscemi, an Emmy Award-nominated (Notice it’s not Academy) actor is typecast as a handsome serial killer.  He should shine in this role, however, he does not make a believable creep as there is no onscreen chemistry between him and the little girl he has a tea date with.  His supposed desire to kill her was just non-existent. Why did I care about this in the shower?  We’ll never know.

Con Air - Steve Buscemi

The little girl will be okay, I’m promise.


Okay brain, what’d you decide?

Con Air is clearly the best movie ever.  Another debate solved by showering.

Share your thoughts in the comments below.


Review of Christopher Titus’ “Angry Pursuit of Happiness” and Complete Interview With The Riverfront Times

Kelsey McClure

Review by Kelsey McClure

I see a lot of comedy shows. Most are open mics or small independent shows right here in the city of St. Louis but even so I am at an event where the goal is laughter on a weekly basis; at the least. I perform on a vast majority of those shows too. These are reasons I think I am somewhat qualified to review Titus’ The Angry Pursuit of Happiness.

At the close of the show, everyone in the Edison Theatre stood. It was the first time I thought the performer deserved the standing ovation received. A Bob Dylan performance comes to mind but I think that was more a requirement than a courtesy. I also thought  those standing were standing because they meant it; not because it’d get them closer to the exit than the person beside them. I’ve seen a fair share of standing-o’s and I’m fairly certain the last was at a high school production of Grease.

Grandeur language is overused. Awesome doesn’t mean full of awe anymore, it means, “Hey, that’s nice and I’m excited about it.” Brilliant no longer describes Stephen Hawking. “Brilliant” means “I should have thought of that.” Or “Did that guy really just cut me off doing 75 in the passing lane? Real brilliant Asshole!” Sure, there are plenty of words I could use to describe Titus’ set; I do in fact have a thesaurus built into my computer — it wouldn’t be difficult — but I’m going to stick with brilliant. And I want to make it very clear I mean the OG brilliant, the exceptional kind. I don’t mean to say Titus’ is on Stephen Hawking’s level, nobody is, however his impersonation of an old Pope in a motorized wheelchair was very Hawking-ish.

Comedy means “End Game = Laughter” and there are countless ways to arrive at that destination. Earlier today I listened to Reggie Watts’ album “Why Sh** So Crazy.” I laughed. Later, I went to the Edison Theatre and saw Christopher Titus. I laughed. The two couldn’t be more different but both fall under what we recognize as the umbrella of comedy. Watts’ is weird and eccentric and a lovable goof. Titus is straightforward, honest and critical. He complains in the most creative ways and it’s downright hilarious. He speaks with conviction and it’s obvious his material comes from a place of experience; qualities that could describe a politician or minister but what those two examples lack are the wisdom that it’s all laughable, you just need to understand why. Titus does.

From his first word to his last Christopher Titus was sincerely funny. Not enough people accept laughter as the challenge it truly is. We’ve come to expect it and so it’s value has been dampened. Titus is here to remind us laughter is worth giving it everything you got because it could wind up being the only thing you have left.

I had the opportunity to also interview Titus for The Riverfront Times. The bulk of the interview was not published, until now.


So what do you need to know? I got a hold of him one afternoon, we made small talk and said our greetings but I was quick to apologize for rescheduling on account of a 24-Hour Flu. Luckily, Titus was able to relate…

Christopher Titus: I had it for like four days and then it filled my lungs up with stuff, and then it took me like three weeks to get rid of that. It was not good.

Kelsey McClure: Yeah, you hear facts, like your body’s 90% water and it’s not until you see 30% of that in a 24-hour period that you’re like, “Huh, yeah … maybe there is 90% water in there.”

Christopher Titus: There really is, because I’ve seen it come out of me.

Kelsey McClure: Right.

I got a text from Springsteen once. I asked him about the tour. He said he got sick and he said he lost 10 pounds in two days. He had to cancel a show. I said, “You canceled a show?” He said, “I know, right?” Like he knows that’s who he is. He was that kind of sick. It’s good to know that the superstars, the Gods in show business, still get that.

I would imagine that would never happen.

Right. Like he has some sort of extra… they can just give him an injection that only George Clooney, Bruce Springsteen, and Brad Pitt get and it would be fine, but that’s not the case.

Who knows? The technology may be out there, but maybe they’re just keeping it secret from us.

We don’t have access to it.

No. Well, this is great. We’re starting off with flu jokes and Bruce Springsteen.

It’s certainly almost could be a flu joke or a diarrhea joke with the water leaving. It was actually deeper, but we didn’t do it low brow. We went high brow with it.

High brow. Exactly. Actually, I creeped on your Facebook a little bit just to see what you’ve been talking about most recently. The Vice article came up, about how not to be a stand-up comedian.


One of the things on there was, you know, don’t talk about your poop. And I started to say something about the 90% water and then immediately thought, “Oh no, don’t bring your poop into it. Don’t do it.”

You know, comedy’s gotten to a weird place, lately. I didn’t know comedy really well until I started when I was a teenager. So I’ve seen all these different kind of things that it’s gone through in the last 25 – 30 years. I have to be honest, comedy’s gotten to a weird place where, some female comics that are the grossest, that are grosser than any male comics I know. Talking about abortions, and getting raped, and taking a dump. It’s on TV now. I don’t mean to be a prude because I’ve done some pretty controversial material but it wasn’t about that, it was about my mom in a mental hospital.

The difference between my stories and these other comics’ stories is that mine really happened. It’s not just, here, let’s write a funny joke about my mom being in a mental hospital and getting shock treatment. My mom actually was in a mental hospital and got shock treatment.


I think there’s this weird unreality in comedy right now. There’s some great joke writers that are writing jokes that have nothing to do with reality. I think that just scares me. Some of it’s so dirty, it’s just, why? I found some comic who said, “I want you to watch my set, man. I’m kind of dirty.” I watched his set. He was just really dirty. He raped a stool at the end of the show, he just basically raped a stool for like the last 3 minutes of his act, that was his closer.

He gets off stage and I go “Listen man;” I go, “What you’re doing right now is not going to get you anywhere. You’ll work clubs for a while, then you’ll just become one of those guys. The only way you can be dirty and succeed is if you’re funnier than Dave Attell. Dave Attell is the most genius, most constantly, in the brilliant way he writes a joke. If you can be funnier than Dave Attell, go for it. But if you can’t, don’t waste your time.


So when I did Normal Rockwell, I really got to a place where honestly, you have to be honest; whether you’re telling a story about your honest life, or just how you honestly feel. I’m doing a new bit, this new show called “Arm the Children,” which is a tribute to the NRA. It’s one of my best bits. It’s some of the best things I’ve ever written. This show, Angry Pursuit of Happiness is some of the best things I’ve ever written. I don’t know. Who’s your favorite comic?

My favorite comic? I think that’s a loaded question because… I don’t know. I guess Zach Galifianakis has been my favorite for a long time.

So you’re smart. Perfect. You’re super smart, then. Right? That you like Zach, that was your first name. Even before you saw The Hangover, right?

Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean, the first time I remember seeing Zach on a special was the Purple Onion, which was a Netflix Presents five or six years ago.

Yes. Maria Bamford just sent me her new novel. Like Patton [Oswalt], I still, for inspiration, if I’m writing, I’ll go listen to Werewolves & Lollipops again just to remind myself that you can take words that are dull or words that are sharp. Patton and Maria… my wife is also a comic. We’ll go watch Maria just because I can’t do what Maria does. I mean, I can do voice and stuff, but Maria doesn’t just do the voice. She becomes the character. Zach, Maria, and Patton, that’s what I look up to.

I’m always like, okay, I can be better. I do what I do. I am a great storyteller. I tell amazing stories. I have great ideas to pitch. Those guys, they’re the USS Enterprise of Comedy, and keep pushing the boundaries of where we can go. That tells me you’re a very discerning comic.

Hey, Thanks. How many more specials do you think you have ahead of you?

Well, I mean, I set the bar at George Carlin. George Carlin has 14 specials and 21 comedy albums. I think as many as I want to write. Do you know what bothers me the most about comedy, and that’s why I come back every year to 18 months with a new show, is that, it’s our job as comedians, it’s our job. I see guys who will go town to town, year after year, with the exact same act for nine years. They’ll add one new bit.

Well, I like where comedy’s going, to that same vein, in that more comedians are going to alt rooms or doing theaters, as opposed to just going back to comedy clubs, because I think, and I can really just speak for St. Louis specifically, comedians will go back into the same club, and people will come back to hear the same bit. For someone who sees that person five years in a row, and they’re still telling the same jokes, it’s kind of exhausting and disappointing, and you wonder what the point of it all is.

That’s a great word, exhausting. That’s the exact word, exhausting. You know what? What I don’t know understand… it’s exhausting to the performer too. This whole thing happened because of George Carlin. George Carlin had lunch with a friend of mine. I was really hating my friend Neil, like, “God, I hate you, before he died, that you had lunch with George Carlin.” So he goes to lunch with George Carlin and it’s the worst experience of his life because George Carlin looks across at him and said, “You comics are a bunch of pussies.” He goes, “You can’t come to your job and put on the same show every year. You guys are lazy it’s hard to get through the same act for years. Fuck all you guys.” George Carlin basically used my friend Neil, who’s a huge fan, as basically to tell every comic how he felt. Carlin just trashed him.

Neil came back and he looked like he’d been through a battle. He was like, “It was horrible, man. It was horrible.” But when I heard that was something George Carlin said, that really hit me as the truth. It really hit me in my gut. Like, that’s the truth. That’s what you have to do. I’m not saying I’m better. I was guilty of the same thing. Now, I set out 12 to 18 months out. Get your show ready. They sell it. Once they sell it, they start breaking ground.

As a matter of fact, I’m just freaked out. I’m going back to a club I did eight months ago, in a couple weeks, and I have this act that wasn’t done yet. I had to change it up. I’m going to start breaking in new material for the next show. But it’s just not fair to an audience to do the same crap you did the last time you were there.

Right, and I think now more than ever, the Internet is such a broad idea, but I don’t understand how comedians who have videos with 40,000, 30,000 hits are going to come to a comedy club and do the exact same thing. It’s like, what’s the excitement? Where’s the draw to get people to come out and get off their couch and go to a show when they could just pull up YouTube and see those jokes.

Right. The other side of that is, once you’ve taped something… I had my own distribution, once you put it up there anyway, it’s gone. The only way you can really make money is to have new material so people have to come see you live.

It’s not like it used to be where they had to go buy the album, had to buy the DVD. Now they don’t have to because some douchebag took a video. Some asshole took three years of your life and said, “Hey, I want to give it away for free, and I’m going to sell advertising on it.”


Christopher:  The only way to really do well is to have new comedy. A lot of guys have do. Like [Mike] Birbiglia. Birbiglia, he stopped doing clubs. He started going into theaters. Now he does such a great job in theaters. He’s such a good comic. But in clubs, club owners just didn’t work for him, so he switched it up. I’m tired of clubs who are telling me on Saturday for a show, “Hey, man, you’ve got to be off in an hour. You can’t do your whole show.” That makes me mad. I’m like, these people paid for my whole show and that’s why they’re filling your club, because they know me. They know what I’m going to do, and I can’t not do that. That’s where I wanted to be. It’s been working really well. I started a company called Combustion Live. It’s been working.

I totally agree. Your comedy is obviously very story telling and personal oriented. Do you think that there’s ever going to be a return to the setup punch line joke, or do you think comedy is more moving towards just the storytelling and personal experience type of thing?

You know, I don’t think it’s moving. I think it’s always been there, it just goes through phases. Steve Martin got real irreverent and crazy. [Richard] Pryor got huge again and comedy started going back to true stories again. But then Seinfeld came around and it became really observational. Now we’re in the quote, “alternative.” I don’t think alternative is a good name for comedy because there’s no such thing really. Funny people are funny people. It’s all comedy.

But when those guys came in, if you look at [Scott] Aukerman. Aukerman’s kind of irreverence… there’s guys in that vein that’s reverent. Then you look at Gaffigan. Gaffigan is so Seinfeld, but there’s a little different alternative edge to Gaffigan so it just changes. I think the best guys will do what they do well but I’ll tell you this… There was a comic recently who’s one of the best joke writers I’ve seen in the last 50 years.

He had a show for a while, and the second year his show came on, the numbers dropped in half. Although the jokes were great, he never talked about something real. Here’s the thing I’ve learned about audiences. Audiences, when you’re honest… and I hate dissecting comedy because it makes comedy really not funny. Why don’t we dissect humor? Let’s talk about what humor means.

This is what I learned about storytelling. People want you to be honest on stage. When I changed my act, I started being honest on stage and I didn’t really give a shit what you thought. I started being honest because I got tired of doing crap on stage. When I got honest, that’s when audiences started loving me, because they knew behind the jokes I was doing there was a true story. Because of that true story, there’s something extra that comes out when you tell the truth. It’s an intangible.

When you’re on stage and you’re telling the honest story, the audience leans in, in a way that they don’t do it when you’re just telling them some jokes. The laugh, fine, but they don’t love you. When you tell them the truth about your life… You know who is the perfect proof of this? Louis CK, years ago, used to be very irreverent. The comedy that he would do, “I’m holding a peach!” He would do that kind of stuff. Do you know the bit? Do you know Louis’s comedy?

Oh yeah.

Okay, so do you ever see a guy across the street that you recognize and you say, “Hey,” and then you think, “Oh God, that’s not the guy I thought I recognized.” Now he’s staring at you and you’re holding a peach, “Look at me, I’m holding a peach!” That was Louis then. It was all kinds of stuff like that. Well, then Louis got serious about his life. He started talking about his life. Because here we go again, dissecting, “Let’s make comedy not funny!” But, the second he did that, he blew up. In fact, Louis’s been doing comedy a lot longer than I have. The second he started telling the hardcore truth about his life and what’s going on, and how he felt about himself, boom, explosions.

That’s what happened with Titus. When I wrote Norman Rockwell is Bleeding, within two years, I had my own television show that I was writing and executive producing. People want to hear the truth. There’s an intangible available in the truth that’s not available in a brilliant joke that’s a lie.

How long did it take you, though, to figure that out? Was it a moment of realization, or was it like…

Yeah. I was about 12 years into doing comedy, and I was already headlining clubs and stuff. I really, to be honest, started hating my act. Hating it. I’d be on stage and I could see the next bit coming in my head that I had to say; instead it would just be like, “God, I fucking hate this bit. God, I don’t want to say these jokes again. God, I hate these so much.” Then I’d go, blah, blah, blah, and I’d say them again.

I wasn’t making a difference, and I wasn’t enjoying myself, and I was going to quit. I started to look around for buildings to rent because I was going to open up a body shop. I was going to quit comedy. I did this for 10 years, and it’s okay, but it’s not what I want to do. So my last album was, I wrote this bit and it’s actually in the show. When I wrote this bit originally, I wasn’t good enough to pull it off. Although it was the night I first changed my mind on comedy.

I wrote this bit called “We Need Comedy to Get Rid of Our Desire to Kill.” It’s the premise that I’ve changed for the new show. It’s the worst day you can have. It’s how I really felt about life. I open with it, and three minutes in, it’s basically the worst day you can get. Horrible thing on top of horrible thing, piles on itself, so at the end of the bit, I’m standing in my boss’s office while he’s ordering a new Mercedes and he was telling me he was about to fire me. I’m stabbing him in the chest with a letter opener, screaming, “I just need a good laugh!”

That’s how it ended. I did it, but it was the most honest how I felt about life right now. I did it the first night. I was so afraid. It was so different from my other crap, that the night I did it, I took my buddy from acting class. I’m like, “Dude, this could go horribly wrong, and I’m going to need you to get me out of there and make sure I don’t kill myself when it doesn’t work.” I did that bit. I opened with it, and it blew the roof off. It was in LA, an old club. It’s closed now. The place went nuts. They were like, “Ahhh!”

This is a huge problem. Now I have one bit like that, and then I have all the crap I hate. So about three minutes in and I start going back to my old crap, “So, you get to the store and you buy stuff, and how about that stuff.” From that moment on, the audience hated me. I get this applause first three minutes in, and the next seven minutes they hated my guts, because I had lied to them. That’s when I got it. That’s when I heard on stage, and I learned that if I tell the audience the truth, no matter how ugly, dark, and weird it is, as long as it’s the truth, they will be in awe, and sometimes it will be shock.

I tell this story about my uncle. My uncle spoke at my dad’s funeral, and he basically told this story where he said he was misinterpreted by this woman who he tried to help her. She thought he was going to rape her. He told it at my dad’s funeral, in front of everybody. It’s not about my dad. It’s about him, saying he wasn’t trying to rape this girl. Weirdest story you’ve ever heard. We’re sitting there, and the whole family… it’s the weirdest story .

People come to me and they go, “Did that really happen? Was your mom really in a mental institution? Is did all this stuff happen?” That just happened recently because I started doing this… I did Norman Rockwell, in ’96, ’97, and no one ever asked me, is that my truth, because no one was revealing stuff like that. Now, everybody’s telling, “Yeah, so my grandma, I caught my grandma having anal sex with the grandfather.” No, you didn’t. Shut up. Tell me the real story. Tell me what you really believe. Then I’ll bet you will kill. So it happened on stage. I did the bit on stage, knowing I was going to quit comedy, and because I did that, that night I actually went home and threw my entire act out that night.


And I started from scratch. That’s where Norman Rockwell came from.

That’s a hell of a way to figure it out.

But eventually… I believe if you want to do something, if it burns you to be musician, a comic, or whatever. Even a painter or a writer. You became a writer because there was something you wanted to say. You know? You didn’t just do it just to make money. First of all, if you chase money, money runs. Money’s like a super hot chick, right? If you chase money, money just runs off. If you do what you want to do, if you do it well, if you do it for the love of it, money will chase you.

That’s exactly what happened. The second I threw my act out and started doing Norman Rockwell, I had a couple clubs that said flat out, “We don’t want it anymore.” One of them called, the club manager called and said, if he’ll go back to doing his old act, his happy boy act, we’re good. But if he’s going to keep doing what he’s doing, we don’t want him to be there. You know, it wasn’t because it wasn’t killing, it was because it was dark and a couple people walked out.


Now I have this thing, if I don’t get two, three people to walk out in five shows… I don’t want to piss everybody off but there’s some people that with their sensibility, they should be going to Carrot Top. They shouldn’t be going to see me. They should not come to see me, or Zach or Maria. Maria’s just the type… it kind of makes me mad, like they were told by some friend to go there, and it’s so they’re someone who’s not really a fan  and halfway through it people walk out. I’m like, you guys just don’t get it.

If everybody gets what I’m doing, if everybody gets it, maybe I’ve made a mistake somewhere. I didn’t go far enough. There should be five or seven people that go, “I don’t get this guy. Fuck this guy. What’s his issue?” He should talk about farting more.” I want to make those people mad. I want to write smart enough that they don’t get it. There’s like five percent of the population I want to write smart enough so they just don’t get it. I try. I give it a shot.

Yeah. Actually I had an experience a couple of years ago. I dragged a few friends to go see Doug Stanhope, and was having a great time and laughing my ass off. I had looked over them and they were both like, jaw dropped, still had half a beer in their glass. I was like, oh my god, what’s wrong with them? I was like, “You guys, what’s going on?” They were just like, “Can we go? Can we meet you later, after the show?” I was just astounded. I didn’t understand. I was like, “What do you mean, can we go? He’s hilarious.”

That’s hilarious. So you get what I mean, then.

Yeah, absolutely.

You get what I mean. In fact, I want more people who bring their friends to come find me after the show. Because I always find them after the show and they’ll come up to me and they’ll say, “Hey I brought my buddy Steve with me.” He’s like, “Uhhh… hey, how are you doing, man?” They just don’t get it. Or I’ll do Love is Evol, I had people that were like… if you’ve been through a bad relationship, when you watch Love is Evol, and if you’re with someone you love, and it’s just harsh. It’s harsh. If you have never been through a bad relationship, you go, “Gosh, you’re still bitter about women.” I’m like, no, I’m bitter about any bad relationship, but everybody else comes up to me and says, “Dude, I was going to kill myself.”

I actually have a letter that I keep on my night stand, this dude gave me in Sacramento. The show aired. Comedy Central, I asked that they air it on Valentine’s Day and they thought it was crazy. Three months after then, I’m going to California. This guy just comes up and he goes, he’s freaking out on me, and he’s like, “Dude, thank you, thank you, thank you. No really, you don’t understand. Thank you.”

He hands me a letter. I go, “Do you want me to read it?” He said, “No, not now.” I’m thinking, oh good, what’s in the letter? The letter said, “Valentine’s Day I wanted to propose to my girlfriend, but three months earlier she had broken up with me. I had lost my house. I had lost my job. I was living with my parents. I had decided on Valentine’s Day to kill myself.” He goes, “I had a bottle of Wild Turkey on the table in front of me, and I had a handgun in front of me.”

He goes, “I sat down on the couch. I sat on the remote control. It turned the TV on. I had been watching Comedy Central right before South Park, and your sketch had just started. I started drinking. I started laughing. I started crying.” I said, “well, that’s when I realized, if you can get through that, I don’t have to kill myself.” I see that letter. Whenever I get cocky and think I’m a badass, when I see that letter, it pulls me back to where I should be writing from.

Yeah. So are there any lines or topics that you are afraid to approach, or is it all fair game to you?

You know, there’s stuff that I don’t want to do just because it’s been overdone. Like anything about sex, or some bit about titties. I don’t need to do it. I’m just like, yeah, it’s such well-trodden ground it’s like a nine-lane highway. There’s no point. When it comes to the human condition, I mean, if you look at what I’ve written, I mean, my mom, in 1995, I did a bit about my mom’s suicide. In ‘95. All these comics that are so edgy now, you know, bite my ass, I was doing it in ’95.

I hate to be a dick, but I love when people go, “Yeah man, I did this bit about mom doing drugs.” Okay, well, I did about killing her husband. It’s like, I don’t even want to be bragging or anything, but there is nothing off limits as long as you go the right way towards it. As long as you don’t bludgeon the audience with it.

What I usually do is I’ll write a bit. I like to walk them down paths. I’ll do all the details. I’ll start talking about my mom, and who she was, and start easing into how crazy she was. Then the next thing you know, she’s in a mental hospital. Then 20 minutes later I’m talking about her shooting her husband, and 10 minutes after I talk about her suicide. So they’ve actually followed the path.

I couldn’t just go, “Well, hi everybody. Welcome to the show. Thank you for coming down. You know, my mom killed herself.” You can’t do that. But I don’t think, as long as you lead them down the right path. This bit I’m doing right now, Arm the Children. Maybe I’m giving a little bit away, but at the end of the bit they’re screaming, “Arm the children.” I get them chanting. The whole point of the bit is to point out how stupid we are as human beings, that we will follow any premise. So I trick them into following me and then I point out that we will follow any dumb idea as long as it’s presented well.

You know? It’s the whole point of the show. This show’s really about human beings, and how we are the baddest-assed thing to ever hit the planet, and also the worst thing to ever hit the planet.

Yeah. So do you think your performance is more cathartic for you, or the audience?

Well, I have to be honest, I love doing it to a point. I’ve never gotten on stage to do a show where I was like, dude, I can’t believe I got to do this shit.


I’m always amped. I’m always like, let’s do this, come on, people. I don’t know. I do this in my show. I always write something smart. I always try to write the solution that I think will drive the show. Funny first. Got to be funny first. That’s the only thing I think makes me madder than watching a bit about somebody’s penis or masturbating is someone who gets real sappy to the point where they’re preaching at you. You know?


You got to do it in a way that it’s still funny. You can take them to the darkness for a second, to a place where they’re shocked. I do a bit in this scene where I talk about my dad, about when he died and how we never pay attention to what’s in front of us. But I do it funny. I don’t say that. Like, my Dad dies when he was 58, and I talk about when we don’t pay attention to what’s going on in front of us, ever.

My dogs do. My dogs don’t have a future. We’re always thinking about the future. That’s what this whole show is about. But, that’s an hour and five minutes you get to be funny as shit. You know what I mean? “Okay let’s talk about what, how life’s a beach.” No.

If you want people to walk out, that’s a good way to do it.

Yeah. You really have to earn it. You say, funny, funny, funny. Wow, I like this guy. He’s great. Then out of the blue, backhand them where there’s just a moment where they go, “Uhhh.” And then the next moment better be funny. You don’t stay there long. You don’t want to sappy it up but I do want to make my points and move on.


But I like seeing… like you have a great taste in comedy. You pick those people, I know what kind of comedy you like.

You know so much about me!

Well, when you just said Zach Galifianakis, I was done. It tells me you’re smart, you’re discerning. You actually get things that a lot of people would stare at blankly. You know?

Well, I appreciate hearing that, because usually there’s two types of people that respond to Zach Galifianakis being my favorite comedian. It’s either, “Oh, I loved the Hangover,” or, “Oh yeah, Zach Galifianakis, he was hilarious, wasn’t he?”

Yeah, man, well, he did some specials, and they were doing that comedy tour they did for HBO. Zach… Man he can play the piano. In fact, I used to see him in Little Park down in LA. Really different funny.

Oh yeah.

That bit with Obama was pretty funny. Pretty weird, but pretty on.

I mean, if you can key in the weird and still keep people on board with you, you’re doing something right.

Yeah, exactly. Take them to the edge of their comfort zone.

It’s such a bigger idea that starts with this teeny little premise. If you look at the surface, you’re done. If you look at the surface and you take that seriously, you’re done. You got to stay on board. Then there’s kids that will to try to copy that, and they’re just all surface.

Yeah. Yeah, I’m with you on that 100%. And let’s see. I always have a list of questions and then I start talking, and then it goes in all the different directions, which is the way I prefer it.

Well, it’s just an article. Just write an article. It’s a preview of the show. I go balls out. One of my mentors, in the sense of who in my life I look to, is  Bruce Springsteen, because I’ve seen him a lot of times, and I meet him sometimes. That dude gets on stage, and he’s 63 now, and it’s non-stop. He wants to destroy the audience. He wants to change their DNA. I’ve learned from him well, I event asked, “how do you do that?” He said, “I don’t know how to do it any other way.” I thought, that’s it.

Here’s what I want everyone to know is that at the end of the show, I want them to be… I want them to know I’m going to go balls out. I want them to laugh their asses off so that at the end they have this weird communal experience and then at least we all got together. Because the one thing we don’t have with all this technology is community. The one place we really get this cool sense of community. We’re in a comedy club routine and we’re all laughing at the same thing.


There we go, now, I think I just started to turn into a shaft of light. Oh, my God.

You’re so wise.

Thank you for mocking me just now.

No problem. Anytime.

Kelsey McClure is a beat writer for the Riverfront Times. For more interviews or to see what she’s recommended for the upcoming month’s comedy events in St. Louis head to her author page. You can also follow her on Twitter. She’d also like you to know she doesn’t mind speaking in third person.


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