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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Marc Maron interview

Marc Maron – August 28, 2010

“I’m a fairly isolated guy, I don’t have a lot of close friends. If given a choice, I’ll sit around by myself moreso than not, even though I like talking to people. So in a way this show really forces me to have relationships and to talk to people that are my peers.” – Marc Maron

Marc Maron: So, what’s on your mind, Guy?

Guy MacPherson: Well, you’re on my mind, Marc. You’re coming back to Vancouver doing comedy and a podcast.
MM: That’s the plan.

GM: Congratulations on 100 episodes, by the way.
MM: Thank you so much.

GM: I need some background. When did you start this?
MM: I guess it’s almost a year ago. I think we started it in September of last year.

GM: Did you anticipate it would take on a life of its own like it has?
MM: I did not anticipate any of this.

GM: What were you thinking?
MM: I was thinking like, well, we’ll do this, we’ll get a few hundred people, maybe a few of my older fans, some of my radio fans, and I thought maybe if we get a thousand people, twelve hundred people, we’d be doing great.

GM: And now I read something where it’s, how many downloads a week is it?
MM: I think it’s like a couple hundred thousand a week.

GM: Yeah, that’s amazing. Did you have a template or something you modelled it after because it’s unlike the other comedy podcasts that are out there.
MM: I don’t know what’s out there. I mean, I know the names of them but I don’t... I mean, I’ve listened to Jimmy Pardo’s... I’ve listened to a couple here and there. But no, I didn’t have a template other than I would talk, then I would talk to somebody I knew, have a real conversation, and then maybe do a third act that was sort of a Kaufmanesque and Wellesian in its way of fucking with the audience’s head as to whether or not it’s real or not. That was the only template we had. And it seems like those third acts are getting fewer and fewer.

GM: That’s key: You said you wanted real conversation. That sets you apart. The other podcasts, and you’ve been on some of them, and they’re great and fun, but they’re more riffy. They’re riffing with each other and joking around.
MM: Yeah, I just don’t know how long that goes for, you know? I’ll do that with certain guys for a little while if I have them on the show, if that’s where the speed is or where we’re at. I don’t mind doing that, but I don’t know what the hell the point of doing that every week is. It’s no different than morning radio or afternoon radio. ... I just think that separates it from radio.

GM: I was talking to a young comic here in Vancouver recently who assumed that your neuroses, anxieties, whatever you want to call them, were, if not shtick, at least comedic exaggerations. And I was saying, “You know what? Maybe he even tempers them a bit.” What’s your take?
MM: Yeah, I don’t know. It’s like, I think everybody’s gotten so accustomed to assuming everything’s bullshit that they can’t really sense authenticity. I don’t think that I’m exaggerating really. I think you might be right. I think that if I was left to my own devices, and I didn’t have the outlet that I have, they would probably be much more consuming and difficult. Some days are better than others, Guy. (laughs) That’s all I can tell you about that!

GM: I know you hear a lot from your listeners and you take the time to respond to a lot of them. Do you sense any misconceptions about you, other than the one I just mentioned? Because you’re pretty real on your show.
MM: I think that’s the most difficult and the best thing about it is that the people that listen to my show really do know me. They know me better than most people, outside of maybe some of the worst parts of me [which] I don’t share as much, as immediately. But they know me pretty well. And usually their sense of who I am is pretty on the money. I mean, some people tend to misunderstand me. They’re not even worth really mentioning. Sometimes, because I have a certain amount of rawness to it and a certain amount of weird, neurotic honesty to what I do, it rubs people the wrong way and they get very angry. But not very many. I’m not even sure why. It’s just sometimes you say something. When the tone doesn’t have much of a filter on it, you can get very quickly under people’s skin and you want that to be in a good way. But, you know, you can’t have all the cake.

GM: I was thinking that your show is kind of like the real-life version of My Name is Earl.
MM: Ha, yeah. As far as making amends to people?

GM: Exactly.
MM: Well, there’s an issue to that. In order to honour my own voice on this thing, and to talk to other people, I just came to a point in my life where, you know, I’m a fairly isolated guy, I don’t have a lot of close friends. If given a choice, I’ll sit around by myself moreso than not, even though I like talking to people. So in a way this show really forces me to have relationships and to talk to people that are my peers. And I like talking to them. I like hearing about their stuff. And I think in a different point in my life I was much more defensive. And I still can do it at times. I owe a couple people apologies from the last few months. But there are some people that those moments are far in the past and I need to bring them up. And it feels good to do it. It’s just sort of weird because there really are a lot of them. (laughs)

GM: It proves how forgiving people are.
MM: Well, a lot of times it has no impact on them whatsoever. A lot of times what I think is something I did that was hurtful or weird, I made it a big deal in my head but they didn’t make it a big deal at all, which speaks more to my self importance and self-centredness than anything that they’re guilty of. Some people know my general disposition but some of these moments that I bring up, some people are like, “It didn’t really register.” And then it’s even more insulting. I’m like, “Really?! How could you not remember that one thing I said to you twelve years ago?”

GM: And then there are the others, of course, that say, you know, “This is what you did to me” and you don’t remember.
MM: Yeah, I like hearing about those.

GM: You never would have predicted that you would be the new, you know, Dick Cavett or whatever you are, where people are reaching out to you to talk with you, to have these real conversations on your show, ten, fifteen, twenty years ago when, as you say, you were maybe not as forgiving with them.
MM: I’d done talk show pilots before but I don’t really know what this is I’m doing, how it fits into the big world. But yeah, I didn’t anticipate whatever’s happening here but I do enjoy it a lot and it’s really the best thing I’ve ever done. And, yeah, now people kinda want to talk to me, but there are also some people who listen to it, like this week we’re doing two episodes with Jud Apatow and he got in touch with me. He’s this big fan of the show. So he knew there was some sort of emotional expectation to go to this place, you know? And after the second episode, I don’t remember if I did it on-mic or off-, he said, “Did we get there?” and I’m like, “Yeah, I think we got there.” (chuckles) “I think we did.” Because he’s a fairly self-aware guy and he knew from listening that there were some emotional stakes, that we had to push through some walls. We had to have some sort of catharsis.

GM: I remember when I interviewed you for my show, you mentioned Jud Apatow. You knew him and you’re an actor yourself, and you were kind of going, “Hey, Jud, I’m right over here.”
MM: You know, that’s been sort of the most challenging part about my show, in terms of who I was and who I am, is accepting that this is what I’m doing because I like doing it. And sitting down with peers that are infinitely more successful than I am financially and creatively, I don’t know that I could have done it in another time. And there are elements of it that are really quite heartbreaking for me. But I think I have to learn how to live with that.

GM: Heartbreaking because of them being better off?
MM: Because of my own disappointment, you know?

“I fear for my future. I’ve been in show business for a long time and I’m very happy with my stand-up and I’m thrilled about the podcast, but you never know how you’re going to sustain yourself ultimately. So that’s frightening.” – Marc Maron

GM: Is there a sense of regret in the choices you made along the way?
MM: No, I don’t have any real regrets. The only regret that I have is really not knowing – and I think this is my strong suit, as well – I just never understood business. I don’t know that I ever understood fully that this was a business. I thought that I’m going to do what I do and do it to the best of my ability and I’ll be rewarded. I was never calculating enough or socially political enough to understand that this was a business. And also I’m a very sensitive person. My focus was not... I didn’t say I’m going to be a writer, I’m going to write movies and I’m not going to give a shit how they’re received, I’m just going to keep writing them until one hits. Or I’m going to be a television writer and just keep writing scripts or writing jokes for people till one hits. I was just like, I wanna figure out who I am and how to be true to myself and where I stand philosophically and comedically and just share what I do and then it’ll all come around. And it’s just not true. You have to have a certain amount of calculating ambition and understand your limitations and what you’re really trying to get. So my regret is not really knowing that or being instilled with that idea of business. I’m not saying that things can’t change or whatever, but honestly understanding that people who are tremendous successes generally work their asses off and are pretty focussed about that.

GM: Do you feel maybe now’s your chance to be rewarded?
MM: I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going to happen, Guy. I mean, like, I’m being rewarded on the level of, like, the types of e-mails I’m getting are very deep and very personal, not unlike the show I’m doing. I’m having an effect on people’s lives where people are writing me telling me they feel less alone or they’re not as suicidal or I inspired them to quit drinking or smoking or this or that or I made them feel better because they were going through a divorce and I helped them out. You know, these are not just comedy fans that listen to my show. And they’re all very deep, sensitive people who are getting a lot out of this show and that’s certainly rewarding.

But I fear for my future. I’ve been in show business for a long time and I’m very happy with my stand-up and I’m thrilled about the podcast, but you never know how you’re going to sustain yourself ultimately. So that’s frightening. And in relation to what I said on your podcast, yeah, I mean, I didn’t bring that up with Jud because you start to realize it’s no one’s responsibility to take care of anybody else, you know? People take care of their friends if they’re pretty good people. You see that in show business. And that’s one of the liabilities to being a guy who’d rather hang out by himself because he can’t figure out who to call or how to emotionally engage with other people in a way that is not draining or difficult, is that after being in the business for 25 years, I mean, everyone knows me, but no one calls me to hang out. (laughs)

You know, show business is all about coming up with a group of people. There’s just different generations of cliques and groups that sort of come up together. They come up as performers, agents, writers, publicists. You know, I didn’t realize that until years later that every few years there’s a new crew of people that have aligned themselves with each other and if they made the right decisions, they run show business for a little while.

GM: You mentioned that you didn’t bring up work with Apatow for whatever reason, but you also mention that you never really understood the business part. Don’t you think it’s the kinds of people that go, “Hey Jud...”, the sort of squeaky wheels, that are getting the parts?
MM: Maybe, but, you know, I’m proud to a fault. It’s weird when you have that type of pride where you’re like, “I’m not going to do that.” And all of a sudden when you get into a desperate place, you’re left with no choices but to do that. And I’ve been in both positions.

But the thing about Apatow specifically was that I’m not going to put that out there. I wish I was going out on more auditions and stuff. I don’t really have anyone sending me out on that stuff. I guess that’s my own fault. I don’t know. And it’s not that easy. I’m a 46-year-old, fairly specific type. So the other thing you have to wrap your brain around is, you know, what am I really available to do? (laughs) You know what I mean? But what was interesting about Apatow in that interview was that I was pretty depressed going over there. I had hit some sort of wall a few weeks ago. I felt a little depleted, which is one of the liabilities of doing the type of podcast I’m doing or doing the type of broadcasting I’m doing--

GM: And the frequency with which you’re doing it.
MM: Well, some guys do it every day but all of a sudden it’s like, what else do I have to share? What else do I have to give? If I keep looking inside of myself, you get a type of exhaustion that is fairly profound. And I was feeling sort of hopeless. And on top of that, compounded by that, I’m driving down to Santa Monica to talk to Jud. I go to his office and I’m setting up my equipment. I’m going to this guy who makes funny movies and he’s a big-shot and I’m in the lobby there plugging mics into my fucking recorder, and it was just sort of like, Wow, man, this is a little heavy. I feel a little heavy-hearted about this situation. And then I get in there and we start talking and he’s just a lovely guy and we had a great time. And the thing that really connected us was that we actually love comedy and comedy had a similar effect on both of us when we were younger. It provided us a lot of relief and it made us feel less alone and that things were going to be okay. And we both had a fairly distinct experience of that when we were younger. So I left the interview with Jud actually feeling uplifted and proud of myself and happy to be doing what I’m doing, which was sort of surprising.

GM: Do you find those moments when you are heavy-hearted or are feeling down make for more compelling listening, strangely enough?
MM: I come from a fairly depressive father. I know what that looks like and what it feels like in the room to be too heavy-hearted. So I have to be able to manage whatever’s going on in the conversation. You can’t be too heavy-hearted to where you can’t function. I know what that looks like. Because that means that the expectation on whoever you’re talking to would be too great. So, I mean, I wasn’t in that place. And I’m usually publicly not in that place because because I have anger to buffer that, or comedy, to stop me from being that guy. But what carried me through that particular moment was that it’s exciting to talk to people that are successful and have done things that you like and have made it, to a certain degree. It’s a little bit exciting. I know you’ve probably felt that before.

GM: The difference is with me is that I’m just another journalist that they have to talk to. But with you, they know you and are fans of yours so I would imagine it would be different.
MM: It was exciting because he loves the show. And a lot of people like the show. And that’s worth a lot. And it’s also very satisfying to me and I’m very proud of it and I’m grateful that people like the show. I just get a little scared sometimes, that’s all.

GM: Has the show changed your relationships or interactions in your daily life?
MM: In terms of professionally?

GM: No, just how you interact with people. Have you softened at all?
MM: I think that it’s serving a lot of purposes. It’s helping me generate a deeper type of comedy, it’s making me a little less neurotic in some respects. It helps me when I see so many people have similar experience to me from the feedback I get from people coming to shows – that sensitive, sort of slightly angry people are most people. I don’t know, it’s just making me feel a little more connected and a little less alone and a little healthier and a little appreciated. Those things are good things.

GM: Your interviewing style, or conversational style – this personal, inward-looking, self-centred discussion – really works and it’s kind of counterintuitive. Talking about yourself draws similar reactions reactions from people and it gets them talking. It draws them out.
MM: Yeah, I don’t know how that evolved.

GM: So that was not a conscious decision; that’s just you getting in there and setting up the mic and talking.
MM: Right. As I hear it now, and people like you can see that happens, I don’t want it to be too conscious, but that is sort of what I do. I do think it is oddly disarming to talk about yourself when you’ve invited someone over to talk.

GM: And it’s something that you don’t hear or see on other talk shows because they’re expected to ask this and this and this. But you get to those points through a different way.
MM: Yeah. I don’t want it to be a pitch fest. Some people aren’t capable... Some people can only do so much and are only willing to go certain places in the moment. And I don’t want them to go any place that they can’t handle or whatever. So I’m just dealing with other comics, primarily. I’m not dealing with... I just get a sense of what’s happening. I just want it to be real and fun for me and to have a good conversation where we forget that we’re actually recording something. Most interview shows and most talk shows are really about selling product of one kind or another.

GM: So it has affected your stand-up. You say you’re reaching a deeper level.
MM: I’m doing what I do here in the garage when I talk on the mics and there’s a lot of things I talk about without the confines of an audience or the expectation of laughter. This is a very free stage I have in here talking into my mic alone. And some of that stuff is making it onto the stage. Some of this stuff that I talk about improvisationally in my garage is starting to develop itself on stage as well.

GM: Is the podcast becoming more important or equally as important as the stand-up?
MM: It’s definitely equally as important, if not more important. I mean, I really enjoy performing for people that know me and want to see me, so it’s helping with that. I went out to the Comedy Store last night and it was a little bit soul-crushing because you get a certain openness with this and you get a certain amount of openness when people are coming to see you, where you can trust them more and you know that they know you so you can really do stuff. To go into a fucking dark cave where it’s just a room full of drunk retards is just part of the job but I’d rather the other thing, you know?

GM: It’s becoming world-wide, right? People listen from all over and you’re going all over and they’re coming out to see you.
MM: Yeah, yeah. I was in London. A lot of What The Fuckers in London came out. And Canada. Yeah, yeah. They’re coming out and they’re driving distances to do it.

GM: Almost every comic I know lives or dies off their last show. Is that the same with the podcasts?
MM: I don’t know. They seem to live a lot longer. There’s a hundred of them out there.

GM: Right, but you’re putting out two a week. Do you want any do-overs when you finish one and go, “That wasn’t as good” and it stays with you till the next one?
MM: In a given interview you wish you’d asked certain things and you can’t unless you go back and do it. I have a certain amount of control. They’re not going out live and if I want to do follow-up, I can. You get a Mencia thing... If we want to do two episodes, we can. I don’t have a lot of regrets. I mean, some of them are different than others. But we’re not going to put one out that we think is flat.

GM: Have you held any back because of that?
MM: Uh... Segments, shorter interviews. We’ve done a couple of bits that we haven’t put up yet. But oddly we had one in the can for a couple of months and we ended up using it. It’s really just a matter of what’s going on and how many we have. I think early on, there was maybe a couple interviews that we didn’t use because they weren’t long enough or they didn’t go anywhere. But really, almost all of them go up.

“It’s just show business. People are just entertainers, whether they’re clowns or jugglers or people that work on the trapeze or people that sing. I mean, Carrot Top is just Carrot Top. After a certain point, it’s like, he’s not taking anything away from me. Is he lowering the bar culturally? Maybe. Does he represent something not unlike Dane Cook that I find is a sad indicator of where we are culturally? Perhaps. Is he the enemy? I don’t think so.” – Marc Maron

GM: The bigger the show gets, do you find yourself holding in some opinions?
MM: Like what?

GM: I was thinking of what you told me about British comedy the last time you were here and your opinion on it, and then saying in your intro after having been there about having these opinions on British comedy and maybe you condescended to it. But you had never mentioned it on air leading up to it.
MM: I think what we learn ultimately is that a lot of things are said out of ignorance. It’s like that stuff you put up about Dane Cook, in terms of what I said about Dane Cook. Yeah, I still felt all those things. I wish you would have sent it to me before. I wish I’d remembered how clear I had said that stuff about Dane Cook because I don’t think I had changed my opinion of him. I wasn’t as clear about what I was angry about and ultimately what I was saying is that he’s indicative of something in the culture and I find him uninteresting. And when he reached out to me to do the interview, I felt like I handled it like that. But I wouldn’t have been afraid to say that to him; I just didn’t have it at my fingertips. And I think what you’re addressing is, I think a lot of things that are said out of ignorance... I mean, my experience of British comedy was fairly specific and narrow. So once I get over there and you start to realize there’s a lot of cats over here that are trying to do something, and then you talk to a guy like Stewart Lee and you’re like, “This guy’s great.” So what I’m doing, even in saying it like I said after the fact, is that I didn’t know. And whatever I’d said and whatever my judgments are, they were narrow-minded because I had no idea what was going on over there. So that’s what you learn. If anything, this podcast is making me a little more forgiving. If there’s one thing I sense I’m doing is that I’m bridging a certain gap in making certain comics people. You talk to somebody like a person, they become a person. We take broad strokes and we make assessments and criticisms and we dismiss things very quickly. And it’s usually more nuanced than that.

GM: I just saw a clip from your old web TV show where you met with Carrot Top. You said you had been making fun of him for years but hadn’t seen his act until then.
MM: With Carrot Top it was a weird opportunity. I don’t know why I felt like doing that at that particular point in time, but I had some moment where the big change in my head from when I was younger to now is that it’s just show business. It’s just show business. People are just entertainers, whether they’re clowns or jugglers or people that work on the trapeze or people that sing. Who the fuck... It’s just show business. I mean, anyone’s standards as to what stand-up is or whatever, whatever the tradition is that came out of the ’80s, I mean, Carrot Top is just Carrot Top. After a certain point, it’s like, he’s not taking anything away from me. Is he lowering the bar culturally? Maybe. Maybe he did at one time. Does he represent something not unlike Dane Cook that I find is a sad indicator of where we are culturally? Perhaps. Is he the enemy? I don’t think so. So I just realized that after all those years of Carrot Top being this, you know, go-to whipping boy, I’d never really seen him. (laughs) And I just went there and watched his show and talked to him. That’s all.

GM: Similar to that is with Carlos Mencia and Dane Cook, it’s great to have an informed opinion, but there are so many parrots out there that are like, “I heard he does this therefore I hate him” without actually having heard them.
MM: And also you don’t know these guys. The weird thing that it comes down to, more than politicians – I’m not sure they are people; I know comedians are people – usually opinions are based on their act or just assuming that their act is who they are. These are just guys. So it’s just sort of interesting to hear them, even for me because I don’t know them. Most of these people [his guests] I don’t know that well. So just talk to them as people and see what happens. Let other people listen to them talking like people.

GM: Do you enjoy being the comedy judge, sitting in judgment of guys like Mencia and Cook?
MM: I would never talk to anyone as long as I talk to them on the show. I don’t think Dave Attell has ever talked to anybody that long, ever. Do I like it? I find it very compelling. I found those episodes to be very compelling. The Carlos one was difficult because I was in this position where I did the one and I felt like he evaded the questions and I didn’t know enough and I was in an awkward situation where I had to do the second one, which really turned out to be pretty fascinating.

GM: But another way you could have talked to him is like anyone else, any of your other guests, rather than getting down to the criticisms, which I understand you have to address.
MM: He had an agenda to come do my show and I had one as well. It’s just that the agenda I had on the first show was much different than the agenda I had on the second show. Having not prepared myself with the information or not having a history with Carlos at all or even being at the Comedy Store and knowing how widespread these accusations were. I was actually going into the first episode in defense of him, to try to get him to, sort of, clear this up. And then after he sort of snowplowed me – he just sort of steamrolled me with all this fairly well-prepared, well-thought out bullshit – that I was like, “What the hell’s going on here?” And I really had to go talk to the Latino guys and the other guys to really realize the scope of what he was accused of beyond this Joe Rogan event and the George Lopez event and this Bill Cosby thing. And then it just became this thing where it’s like, “Oh my God, I can’t put this out without a follow-up and without exploring this more.” And that’s where the second episode came from. So would any of that happened had we just been hanging out chatting? No. No fucking way.

GM: I think since your interviews he’s said something even more damning to himself about stealing.
MM: I think he said it in that movie, I Am Comic, to a certain degree. I think it becomes pretty clear that he’s a guy that’s never going to unfuck himself. On that second interview, there were moments where I felt like telling him to just unburden himself. “You’re just wrestling with so much.” And I think there’s something inside of him that’s really wired in fucked-up ways. It’s beyond me. It’s out of my wheelhouse.

GM: You said you’d done some talk show pilots in the past. Do you see this show growing into another medium?
MM: I don’t know. I don’t know. I’d like to find a place for it where I can make a little bit more of a living off of it because I’m working really hard at it. I’d just like to figure that out.

GM: The danger is always the Peter Principle.
MM: Which is?

GM: You rise to your level of incompetence. So it’s great in this format but if it moves to the next format there might be little tweaks and people would say, “I liked it when it was...” whatever.
MM: I think the way to do it is to leave this in this format and then to do something that is a companion to it, that uses it as a backdrop but doesn’t diminish this particular format.

GM: It’s becoming more commercial. At least, you’re getting more sponsors, which helps you. That’s a necessary evil, I guess.
MM: I mean, if I’m not going to charge for the show, what am I going to do? I’m doing two of these a week. It’s a lot of work. Me and my producer, we’d like to make a living. It’s a professional product. We’re consistent in delivering the shows and we put a lot into them. I’d like to earn a living doing this. Or a good part of my living. And I don’t want to alienate listeners and I want to respect the medium. I can choose my advertisers. I was selling dildos last month. I sold free audio downloads and coffee. I couldn’t move any Man Grates, which just is a testament to my audience. There’s not a lot of grillers. Sub Pop Records just sponsored one episode so that was cool.

GM: And another thing that sets your show apart is you don’t just get the usual suspects as guests, the comics who make the rounds to all the podcasts. You get them, you get well-known comics, you get unknown comics we’re learning about, musicians, writers, friends, family and your fans. And they’re all, in large part due to your conversations with them, fascinating.
MM: Yeah, it’s an interesting thing about people. Everybody’s got a story once they relax a little bit. My dad doesn’t even know he’s on the show.

GM: (laughs) You don’t tell him?
MM: No. He doesn’t know how to listen to it, so he has no idea.

GM: I guess his patients don’t know about it, either.
MM: I don’t know. His patients are primarily drug addicts so I would think they’d be listening but I don’t know. (chuckles)

GM: WTF is primarily a show about comedy, and a lot of your listeners are comedy nerds, but you’ve got that extra element where you can talk to anybody and it’s just fascinating.
MM: Thank you, Guy.

GM: You’re doing a live episode here. One of your monthly live ones, right?
MM: Yeah.

GM: Do you have a preference: live or one-on-one?
MM: They’re different animals, you know? Live shows are basically a panel show; people on stage being funny. Don’t expect the same level of intimacy. And I think in a lot of the live shows we’re all playing for laughs. So it’s very different. I like doing them once or twice a month. I like both of them, but I like the longer conversations.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Joe Wong interview

Joe Wong – August 30, 2010

"I probably should address more the topics that Asians are concerned about. But on the other hand, there are more and more Asian comics coming up and I would say the vast majority of them are mainly focussed on ethnicity. So maybe not [being] completely dependent on my ethnic background could set me apart." – Joe Wong

Guy MacPherson: Are you in Boston right now?
Joe Wong: Yes, I am.

GM: That’s your home, right?
JW: Yes.

GM: I saw your first Letterman appearance when it aired.
JW: Oh, really.

GM: Yeah, yeah. And I wrote about it on my blog.
JW: Oh, thanks. That’s very nice of you.

GM: And I interviewed Eddie Brill about it. Because it was such a different thing that you don’t see on late night shows. Or you didn’t, anyway, until that point. Not only you being from another country, but you don’t see very many new comics on late night talk shows.
JW: Yeah, especially with the Letterman show. Maybe two or three every year or something.

GM: If that. And then, just today I saw your second appearance. I didn’t know you’d been back on.
JW: Yeah, second appearance is February of this year.

GM: Were you a little more relaxed the second time?
JW: Yes, a little bit more relaxed. And it’s a little bit busier in my green room, too. Now some people kinda know me now you know. Paul Schaffer would stop by to say hi. Staff would come in and chat with me and stuff. It’s more fun there now.

GM: You’re getting to be a regular now on the show.
JW: (chuckles) I hope so.

GM: So leading up to that first spot, you started in Boston in 2001?
JW: I took a stand-up class toward the end of 2001 but I didn’t really get on stage and try my material until early 2002.

GM: So that was after 9/11 and you figured what the hell; the world’s coming to an end anyway.
JW: (laughs) Yeah, let’s get some laughs.

GM: I understand you also wrote a newspaper humour column, was it? Or was it just a regular column where you were kinda funny?
JW: I was titled a columnist but in actuality I only contributed two articles. The first one was fairly humorous and people really liked it at that time. And that’s when I first found out my sense of humour can be appreciated by other people, too, especially in America.

GM: I’ve always heard that the hardest thing to do is be funny in a second language. Obviously it isn’t for you, but you can appreciate that, right?
JW: Oh, yes. It’s pretty gratifying coming from a totally different country and you can find some common things that we can laugh at.

GM: What are the biggest challenges in making people laugh in a language that’s not your first?
JW: To be honest, it’s more cultural references. The familiarity with both countries. When I first got here, what I found to be the most difficult for immigrants was not the language itself. Because in the language you can somehow get by. But it’s more of the culture stuff. I didn’t grow up with TV or football or Thanksgiving dinners so those things are very hard for me to catch up and understand. Actually, the most difficult part is the nursery rhymes. When people would talk about that, I had no idea, no clue what they were talking about. So I found those to be the hardest part to get over. The language you can always learn. I’m always fond of the English language. I find it fascinating. I don’t mind putting in hours to read or listen to things. But the culture background, so to speak, is the toughest part.

GM: And when you were writing your columns, you don’t have an accent in your written language.
JW: That’s right. When I think in English, I don’t have an accent in my head.

GM: Are you kind of afraid to lose it? Because it sets you apart.
JW: I don’t think I can lose it if I want to. Because I came to the United States when I was 24. There are certain things that are hard to lose. I remember we did a short film back in Boston in 2008 and this actress says to me, “Hey, Joe, why do you always have to [use] the accent? Can you drop it?” I was like, “I can’t.” (laughs)

GM: Some people think your accent is fake or exaggerated?
JW: Yeah. She basically grew up in Boston her whole life and she doesn’t get why people like me cannot pick up a pure Boston accent or a general American accent at all.

GM: You don’t want to do a Boston accent, though.
JW: (laughs) I can do a little bit.

GM: The only other comic I can think of from another country and language, although I’m sure there are more, is Yakov Smirnoff. I grew up watching him and I thought, “Is he really from Russia or is that a put-on? Is that accent real?” But I interviewed him a couple years ago, and it is. And it makes sense. I have Chinese-Canadian friends whose parents have been here 40 or more years and they still have a strong accent. So I can well imagine it’s something that’s not easy to lose.
JW: Yeah, and you have Americans who were born and grew up here but still they have either Chinese accent or Hispanic accent. Somehow, that’s just the way it is, I guess.

GM: The ones that are even born there?
JW: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

GM: Because of their parents, I guess?
JW: Exactly. I remember once I did a show for a Chinatown youth group where the audience was mainly high school students. And a lot of them were surprised to hear me speak English. They just assumed that people from China don’t speak English. Because they grow up in Chinatown, all their parents and uncles just speak Chinese to each other.

GM: Is there a big Chinese population in Boston?
JW: It’s not very big. It’s not as big as San Francisco or New York. But still there are some. And there is a Chinatown here that’s trying to survive.

GM: Have you been to Vancouver before?
JW: No, I’ve never been there. That’s why I’m pretty excited about the trip this time.

GM: There’s a huge Chinese population here.
JW: Yeah, I heard about that. There are a lot of people from Hong Kong and Taiwan, right?

GM: I’m not sure where, actually. But if you go to Richmond, there are malls I can go in and be the only non-Asian person there.
JW: Oh, wow.

GM: Do you speak Mandarin or Cantonese?
JW: I speak Mandarin.

GM: Yeah, it’s a huge Chinese population. I believe it’s the second biggest Chinatown outside of San Francisco in North America.
JW: Oh, I see. Wow.

GM: Do you find you’re becoming a hero to your people? Are you getting a larger Chinese audience?
JW: Yeah. It’s interesting because Boston’s predominantly white and up until 2005 I would say 98 percent of my audience were white. And then 2005, 2006 I started to do some charity shows for some organizations in Chinatown and I got some recognition there. And after the Letterman appearance I got lots of e-mails from Chinese, either born here or came over here from China. And the most common theme is, “Oh, now I’m so proud of being a Chinese here because what you have done on TV” and stuff. I got a lot of recognition from the Chinese community.

GM: Seeing your sets on Letterman and on Ellen, you don’t do a ton of ethnic material. There are some ethnic comics who make their ethnicity all they talk about. You have great jokes on all sorts of topics.
JW: I just feel that if you only talk about your ethnic background, that’s not challenging enough. I want to come up with jokes with a certain level of depth and complexity, so that’s my main goal. I consider myself a comedian first and a Chinese second. So that’s my take on comedy, basically.

GM: Do you find that the more Chinese-Americans or nationals are getting behind you, the bigger the pressure to start doing more jokes about your ethnicity?
JW: A little bit. Sometimes I feel that when I’m talking to a crowd of mainly Asians, I probably should address more the topics that Asians are concerned about. But on the other hand, there are more and more Asian comics coming up and I would say the vast majority of them are mainly focussed on ethnicity. So maybe not [being] completely dependent on my ethnic background could set me apart.

GM: That’s a good point. So they’ve got that covered; you don’t need to.
JW: Yeah. People who grew up here, they do that a lot, probably since their first show.

GM: When you started back in 2002, what kind of material were you doing? How was it different from what you’re doing now?
JW: I still remember my first set. I can’t even remember any of the jokes from my first set back in 2002 except one joke that worked really well. I think my jokes changed a lot. At the time I was pretty much trying to imitate comedians I really liked, and that kind of thing, and trying to find my way, basically.

GM: Did that joke stay with your act?
JW: Yeah, one joke stayed with me. Basically, the one joke about, “I just got a green card. I decided to stay in America instead of China because in China I can’t do the thing I do best here: being ethnic.” That was the only joke that survived from my first set.

GM: What I like about your jokes is you have great tags. You think the joke is over then you get two other really great jokes on top of it.
JW: Yeah, that’s what I’m trying to do. I have still a long way to go to be kind of perfect at that kind of game, you know: easy set-up, great punchline and great taglines. I’m still working on it. I just hope with time it will get better and better.

GM: How long have you been a headliner?
JW: Since 2006 off and on.

GM: Were you working since then around the country? Or just since Letterman?
JW: Between 2006 and maybe, like, 2009, it’s mainly New England and New York. And after the Letterman appearance, I’ve been to, like, Chicago and Texas and Nebraska, the midwest. I’m travelling more and more now.

GM: Will this be your first time in Canada? I mean, other than looking for bears.
JW: (laughs) This will be my first time performing in Canada. I’ve been to Montréal before but just to do some sightseeing.

GM: You haven’t done the Just For Laughs festival?
JW: No, I haven’t done it.

GM: That’ll come, I’m sure.
JW: Yeah, well, we’ll see. It’s not up to me.

GM: Why did you go to the States? Was it to study?
JW: Yeah. I was a biochemistry major and I wanted to become a professor when I came here.

GM: Did you get a PhD?
JW: Yes.

GM: Have you used it? Did you work in that field?
JW: Yeah, yeah. I worked for... let me see... almost ten years in the field.

GM: In molecular biology?
JW: Yeah.

GM: Was it tough to give that up? Do you still love that?
JW: Yeah, but I worked for a company. I love cancer research and molecular biology but on the other hand it’s just a job, too.

GM: But comedy’s a way of life.
JW: (laughs) Comedy’s my Tao. Remember Taoism? The way or the path of life. Comedy’s just how I see life.

GM: What about your family’s expectations? Are your parents in China still? Are they still around?
JW: My parents are still in China, yeah.

GM: They must have been very proud when their son got a PhD in molecular biology. Then he decides to go into show biz. How did they feel?
JW: I think my mom is probably secretly worried but she didn’t say too much. But in general I think I got a lot of really good publicity in China, especially after March when I headlined at the Radio & TV Correspondent’s Dinner. That was really popular in China. It got ten times more viewers than in the United States. And I was on some national TV news programs so my parents figure I’m probably doing something right. They’re not sure, but you know.

"Comedy’s my Tao. Remember Taoism? The way or the path of life. Comedy’s just how I see life." – Joe Wong

GM: So you performed for President Obama?
JW: No, unfortunately Obama had decided to pull out two weeks before the show. Joe Biden was there.

GM: Well, that’s something.
JW: Ninety-five percent of the time the president will be there. Like, Clinton was there seven out of the eight years of his presidency. I was kind of annoyed that Obama wasn’t there. But Joe Biden was a lot of fun, too.

GM: He seems like he’s got a good sense of humour.
JW: Yeah, yeah. His timing was great when he tells jokes.

GM: Are you as funny in Mandarin as you are in English?
JW: It’s hard to say. I never performed comedy by myself in Chinese. I did some sketches when I was in college. I wrote some sketches and acted in it, one or two of them. But I can’t say for sure because I didn’t practice comedy in both languages. But I just feel the sense of humour deep down is kind of similar between different cultures. It’s just with the cultural background and the language, comedy looks different but when you get down to it, the sense of humour is more or less the same.

GM: You’ve gone back and performed in China since then, haven’t you?
JW: I performed only once back in 2008. All I did was translated some of my English jokes into Chinese. I was visiting my family at the time. I figured I would just give it a shot.

GM: What kind of venue was it?
JW: It’s a theatre but it’s not very packed. It’s on a Sunday afternoon at like 2 o’clock or something. It was not a great show but I just figured I would find a place and try it out.

GM: I’m thinking there’s got to be a sitcom out of your act.
JW: Yeah. Actually I am working with Worldwide Pants, which is David Letterman’s production company. We’re trying to develop this sitcom right now, actually.

GM: They did great things with Raymond.
JW: Yeah, yeah. So it’s basically the same team, you know. The same executive producers and so forth.

GM: That’s very exciting. You don’t sound like an excitable kinda guy but deep down you must be very excited.
JW: Yeah. It’s a mix of feelings. You know, I’m excited about it and I’m honoured to be considered to have a sitcom on TV, but on the other hand most sitcoms don’t survive so it’s kind of a risk, too. But it’s worth it, though.

GM: Yeah, I’d say. Especially when you get a good and proven production team like they are behind you.
JW: Exactly.

GM: I know you did a short film, but have you done any other acting?
JW: Not much. I had a speaking role in The Invention of Lying.

GM: So you have some experience. Have people started treating you differently since your success?
JW: One thing I noticed was, of course, every once in a while I get recognized at comedy clubs or even on the street. Among comedians, the biggest difference is right now it’s very hard for me to complain about anything. Because I live in Boston and very few comedians here have the same amount of exposure as myself and if I complain about something they will just say, “Wow, even you have to complain.”

GM: Is there resentment because you took that next step and they maybe haven’t yet?
JW: There may be, but not in my face, at least. In general, the comedy community in Boston is very supportive. I remember the first time I appeared on David Letterman show, because I have a family I can’t stay up at the comedy club that late, one comedy club was packed with comedians. They turned off all the sports channels and tuned into David Letterman and people were celebrating and drinking and stuff. Somebody actually videotaped the thing on their phone and showed it to me later on. It’s pretty moving. People were so supportive.

GM: Do you get out to the weekly rooms as much as you used to or you just don’t have time anymore?
JW: Oh, yeah. I still go out at least two to four times a week. Sometimes it’s like, you know, five minutes. A short set. Or seven minutes. But I definitely have to try new material.

GM: It’s going to be great seeing you in Vancouver because on TV all we can see is a 5-minute set. How long will you do here?
JW: Forty-five minutes.

GM: So you can really stretch out. It’s a different kind of thing, isn’t it?
JW: Yeah, with 45 minutes you have some acting out, maybe some audience interaction every once in a while, so it’s slightly different. The feel is different. Right now I’m trying to add new elements to my act. I will try to have a 3- to 4-minute power point presentation or a small speech in the middle and this-and-that just to add more variety to my show.

GM: Hey, a power point presentation in stand-up! I haven’t seen that before.
JW: Yeah, I just started doing this back in July in small theatres and people really liked it. And then I tried it out in some colleges and the students love it, too, so I figure I’ll probably just, if they have a good AV system in Vancouver, I’ll definitely do that.

GM: Is it that you’re teaching us something? What’s the pretext?
JW: (laughs) Oh, yeah, I’m teaching mathematics. No, just kidding. It’s basically pop culture stuff and some sarcasm in it. It’s basically jokes but together with some pictures and some quizzes and stuff.

GM: I wasn’t joking when I said teaching. Because I think comedians, whether they’re standing there talking about observational humour or political or whatever, they’re always teaching something, even if it’s only indirectly, just by the way they look at life. So I thought if you did it in a power point presentation, it would obviously still be funny but you’d be imparting your knowledge somehow.
JW: I can’t boast myself as knowledge, but I go for the funny. That’s first most of all. There’s a little bit of knowledge in it but not that much. Mostly entertainment.

GM: How many kids do you have?
JW: One. I have a 3-year-old son.

GM: You have to travel more now. Is that tough on the family?
JW: Yeah, it’s tough on the wife and myself, you know, but it’s something you have to deal with as a comedian.

GM: Is she American?
JW: Yeah, but she’s from China, too. She’s an American citizen now. We have very similar backgrounds. I met her in Beijing before I came to the States.

GM: That’s nice. So she’s really seen your success from the beginning.
JW: Yeah, yeah.

GM: I look forward to seeing you at the festival in Vancouver. I’m sure you’ll kill.
JW: Oh, thanks. I hope for the same thing, too.

GM: It was nice talking to you. We have something in common because I used to be the youngest baby in the world, too.
JW: Oh! That’s great. Common ground. Yay.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Podcast episode 199ish: Tyler Fortin

This one has been up at iTunes for a few weeks now but I've been busy. Sue me. In August, Tyler Fortin and I celebrated our mutual birthdays together on the show. And along the way we talked about his obsession with contests, meeting celebs, being a 2-pound baby, life with cerebral palsy, and his love affair with Houston, Texas.

If you don't want to go to iTunes, have a listen right here in the comfort of your very own wherever you are:

Jo Koy interview

Jo Koy – August 17, 2010

“Jay Leno told me, ‘I haven’t seen a standing ovation since I’ve taken over.’ Then he told me that he never even got a standing ovation. Even the producers were running up to me. ‘That was amazing. We haven’t seen something like that in a long, long, long, long time.’ That was one of the best days of my life. That whole set changed my life.” – Jo Koy

Jo Koy: Hello?

Guy MacPherson: Hey, how are you? You’re an early bird.
JK: No, no, not at all.

GM: Why did they schedule this at 8:15 then?
JK: I was in a dead sleep.

GM: So was I. I know most comedians aren’t early risers so I was wondering why they scheduled this so early.
JK: I know, right?!

GM: So you live in Los Angeles?
JK: Yeah, I live out here. Just bought a place, actually.

GM: Oh, you’re doing well.
JK: Yeah, yeah. I bought it in Studio City. It’s really nice.

GM: Congratulations.
JK: Yeah, thank you.

GM: A little Tacoma boy doing well.
JK: Yeah, man, 18 years later!

GM: Has it been 18 years since you started stand-up?
JK: Yeah. I started in 1992, man.

GM: I’ve seen you twice before.
JK: Oh, nice.

GM: At the JFL tour and also the Ethnic Heroes tour.
JK: I was also out there with Jon Lovitz.

GM: Ah, so I’ve seen you three times then. But in shorter sets. How long will you be doing at the Commodore?
JK: Oh, probably a little over an hour. About an hour and a half.

GM: Is this a tour of Canada?
JK: I think it’s Vancouver, Winnipeg and Toronto... I love Canada.

GM: You grew up in Tacoma. Did you spend much time here in your youth apart from comedy?
JK: In Tacoma I didn’t even know what a comedy club was. I knew that there were comedy clubs but I didn’t know, like, where they were or anything like that. I was in high school and I just remember saying to myself, When I get out of high school I’m going to become a comedian. But I never went to a comedy club or anything like that when I was living in Tacoma. I didn’t start going to them until I moved to Vegas. That was right out of high school. And they have a thousand comedy clubs there, you know? They’ve got so many comedy clubs in Las Vegas and I was going all the time, just going to comedy clubs and watching comics. Just falling in love, wishing that was me on stage.

GM: How long did it take before you got up the nerve to get up there yourself?
JK: Initially I went up right away. I went up right out of high school. I joined this competition in Vegas. My sister’s a singer and she was in this competition, also. So I went to go see my sister sing and there was this comedian that was in the show and my sister goes, “God, you’re funnier than him.” And then I went. I went and enrolled. I didn’t tell anybody. I didn’t even tell my sister I enrolled. And I was on this competition with my sister that no one knew about. And I bombed so bad. It was horrible, man. It was so bad. And I didn’t get back onstage for another... that was ’89 and I didn’t get back onstage until ’92 or ’93, so about three years before I went back onstage.

GM: In the competition, did you get five minutes or something like that?
JK: (laughs) Yeah! I got five minutes and I think I lasted about 30 seconds.

GM: Because you pulled yourself out or they said, Enough!?
JK: When you’re bombing, you just kinda say goodnight quick. I was up there for about 30 seconds and that’s when the bombing started. Maybe about 10 more seconds after that, I was like, Alright, I’m outta here. It was no more than a minute, though.

GM: Did your sister witness this?
JK: Ah, it was just bad. The first joke I said it was just complete silence. And then people started talking. And then people started talking to me on the stage. It was bad. It was bad.

GM: It’s a rite of passage. But even as a professional, you’re going to bomb on occasion.
JK: You’re not going to win them all the time.

GM: What’s your percentage now?
JK: I kill ‘em every time. (laughs) Usually if I do get somebody that talks, if I do get a heckler, I shut that down really quick.

GM: It’s learning the craft, right?
JK: Yeah. It’s just being confidant and delivering everything right. It doesn’t matter what kind of situation you’re in, as long as you know what you’re doing, you’re going to win that crowd back. You know?

GM: I know you do ethnic stuff. At least you did on the Ethnic Heroes tour.
JK: The stuff I concentrate on now... A lot of stuff’s on my son and a lot on my mom. I tell these jokes about my mom and about her being a Filipino mom but I do it in a way where it’s my mom; I’m not saying Filipino moms do this. I don’t do that. I just tell stories about my mom raising me and the funny stories I have about my youth. And it’s so funny, at the end of the show I’m always going to get, like, someone that’s not Filipino coming up to me. I’ll get a black couple or a white guy or a Latino chick that’ll walk up to me and go, “My mom is just like that.” It’s so cool to see another race come up to me going, “My mom did the same thing.” So it has nothing to do with my mom being Filipino; it’s just that every mom does the same thing.

GM: Like pointing with her lips.
JK: (laughs) Well, not that! You know what’s funny is my mom did point with her lips when I did that joke – that was a long time ago – but I did have so many people do that. They won’t say their mom points with their lips, but they’ll say something like, “Yeah, she’ll move her neck forward when she wants something.” You know what I mean? Or she’ll raise her eyebrows when she’s pointing up towards the ceiling. They’ll compare it to my mom. It was just so funny to hear all the different mannerisms from all them parents. So funny.

GM: Is your dad Filipino?
JK: No, my dad’s white.

GM: How old’s your son now?
JK: My son is seven now.

GM: Growing up in Tacoma, did you get over the border much just to visit?
JK: Never. Never. I always heard about it. My friends always said how cool it was, but we were too poor. We couldn’t afford it to drive up north to go to Canada. We pretty much stayed local. It was a single mom, you know what I mean? My dad and my mom divorced when my sister was 11 and I was 10, so not too much money to go have fun.

GM: Is it true that you’re one of the few comics to get a standing ovation on The Tonight Show?
JK: It’s true that I got one. That was from Jay Leno. He told me, “I haven’t seen a standing ovation since I’ve taken over.” Then he told me that he never even got a standing ovation. It was really nice, man. Even the producers were running up to me. “That was amazing. We haven’t seen something like that in a long, long, long, long time.” It’s pretty amazing. That was one of the best days of my life. That whole set changed my life.

GM: Oh, how so? You don’t hear that much these days about comics on The Tonight Show saying that.
JK: Yeah, The Tonight Show changed my life. That’s literally the moment where I became a full-time comedian. It was the day after that show. So much stuff happened for me. Like, I was working three jobs at the time. Well, two jobs. I considered it three jobs because I was also doing stand-up. But I had a job at a bank and I was also working at a shoe store.

GM: And did you go in the next day?
JK: Of course! I went into work and people were recognizing me, like, “Oh my God, you were on The Tonight Show.” And it was just so cool because a lot of important people were watching that day. Carlos Mencia was watching and he called me. We had the same agent and he actually called me directly and he put me on this huge national tour of 110 cities. So I was in this tour bus making all this money opening for Carlos Mencia. And then I got a commercial deal. I was like the spokesperson for a cellular phone company because the owner saw The Tonight Show. And I was getting all these college gigs because The Tonight Show is a great reel when you submit it. The kids are like, “Oh yeah, this guy is awesome!” Yeah, I literally became a working comic 24/7. I didn’t have to worry about working part-time anymore. All because of The Tonight Show.

GM: That is really rare these days. You used to hear that back in Johnny Carson’s day, that somebody would go on and it would change their career.
JK: I remember when I got The Tonight Show, a lot of comics were coming up to me and they were like, “Don’t think it’s gonna do anything.” They were being nice about it but they were just, like, warning you: “It’ll be good tape. You’ll be able to submit it to the comedy clubs now and they’ll look at you better.” Yeah, it didn’t have the same oomph that it had. But when I went up, I don’t know what it was but it changed my life. It was the best. It was literally the day my life changed.

GM: What year was that?
JK: Gosh, that was five years ago.

GM: So you had a young son, then, too.
JK: Yeah. I was 13 years in the game.

"If there’s up-and-coming comics, be careful, this game is very well protected by other comedians. Unfortunately there’s nothing that we can do to protect our jokes but we can all watch out for each other." – Jo Koy

GM: You mentioned touring with Carlos Mencia. He’s a lightning rod for controversy.
JK: Yeah.

GM: What’s your take on him? Is he deserving of praise or scorn?
JK: With me, I loved Mencia. What he did for me was amazing. He changed my life. He took me on the road. He put me in venues that I never thought I would ever play in my life. He was at the Toyota Center one night in Houston, Texas. That was 18,000 people that came to this show and here I am opening for him. It was ridiculous.

GM: And he never took any of your jokes.
JK: Yeah, I mean, that was also a big thing. They were saying that about Ned. That was so unfortunate. It catches up to you. You can’t do stuff like that and not get caught or whatever it may be. He’s never done that with me. He’s never taken any of mine. But unfortunately he did get caught by some very big guys with voices that people like to hear. He got caught by the wrong person. There were several that caught him, actually, and went public with it. So hopefully people will learn from that. If there’s up-and-coming comics, be careful, this game is very well protected by other comedians. Unfortunately there’s nothing that we can do to protect our jokes but we can all watch out for each other. And that’s what basically happened.

GM: It hasn’t affected his career, though.
JK: I don’t really like to elaborate on Mencia, you know what I mean? But we haven’t been on tour together (laughs)...

GM: Are you still friendly?
JK: He’s still going strong. The guy’s still doing his thing. He’s still playing theatres. I don’t know about 18,000 seats anymore, but I don’t think he’s hurting at all. In fact, I was with him in Houston. We weren’t on the same show together but we were in the same venue together. I did two shows. I did the 8 o’clock and the 10 o’clock and he did the 12 o’clock. And it was kind of cool to see both our names on the marquee at the same time. It was kind of neat that my shows were sold out and so was his. Back in the day, no one knew who I was; I was just the guy opening for him. Here it is now and the fans have a choice. You know what I mean? I thought that was really cool.

GM: I notice you call him Ned still.
JK: Yeah, yeah, well, that’s his name. His friends call him Ned. When you meet him in person, probably not with you because you’re doing an interview, but if you were at his house eating, he would come up to you and go, “Hey, my name’s Ned. What’s your name?” That was the first thing he said to me when I met him. He goes, “Please call me Ned.” That’s his childhood name. That’s what he grew up as. Just in this business Ned’s not going to make it. Mitzi Shore’s the one who named him Carlos. And Mencia is like his mother’s maiden name, or something like that. His real name is Ned Holness. He never hides that. He’s always said it. When Rogan called him out on it, he already had that out there. His production company is called Nedlos. ... I don’t know. I don’t want to sit here and defend him or whatever it is, but he did get caught. But I also want to say if you watch his first special, he said that he was Honduran. You know what I mean? I’m not trying to defend the guy; I’m just saying. It wasn’t like he was exposed; he did expose himself. But he did get caught and I don’t agree with that part. He got caught.

GM: You gotta watch what you say when you say, “He did expose himself.”
JK: (laughs)

GM: You don’t want that out of context.
JK: Yeah, yeah.

GM: Do you bring a deejay along on your shows?
JK: Yeah, I got a guy that opens for me. He does a little crowd work; gets the crowd going. It’s kind of cool. It’s a nice little element to the show that’s a little different, you know? It’s more enjoyable than just playing a house CD. You got a guy up there that’s entertaining the crowd while he’s playing the music.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

This just in

THIS JUST IN: I saw Glenn Wool close the show at the Vogue last night and his voice was shot. I was wondering if a day of rest would make it better, but apparently not. So... Glenn will have to postpone his WSF? debut. But we still have Dan Quinn! That's nothing to sniff at. So we're still good to go.

Sept. 26: Glenn Wool & Dan Quinn

The comedy festival is over, but it lives on tonight for one more hour when Glenn Wool & Dan Quinn drop by the studio. Wool started his comedy career right here in Vancouver years and years ago (we'll find out just how many tonight) before moving to Europe where he had a very successful career in England. Last year he decided to give America a shot and now finds himself in Los Angeles. Too bad My Name is Earl isn't on anymore because he'd be a perfect fit for that show (see photo).

Dan has worked in both places but currently lives in Vancouver, where he hosts a weekly show at Deuce Bungalow on Granville (between Nelson and Smithe). In fact, the two will be performing there tonight. If they're a couple minutes late for our show, we're okay with that. This is Dan's second appearance on What's So Funny? but his first with me so I'm sure we'll have lots and lots to talk about.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Neil Hamburger interview

America's Funnyman, Neil Hamburger, plays tonight at the Vogue Theatre in Vancouver with Tom Green. But this interview was conducted back in June prior to a headlining gig he did at the Biltmore:

Neil Hamburger – June 30, 2010

“They started chanting the word, ‘Ass-hole’ and they never let up. Half an hour of people chanting ‘asshole’ at you. Now, the same thing happened to Pope John Paul II when he played there, so I know that these things do happen.” – Neil Hamburger

Guy MacPherson: Hello, Neil Hamburger.
Neil Hamburger: Yes, yes, this is Neil. How are you doing?

GM: Good. Are you a morning person? You don’t strike me as a morning person.
NH: Well, you know, when the show that I’m doing finishes at around 7 or 8 in the morning, usually I’ll stay up afterwards, you know? We did one of these Indian casinos. They had me doing seven shows a night. Can you believe that?

GM: I don’t believe that, actually. Is that true?
NH: Yeah, we had a 7 o’clock show, we had an 8 o’clock show, we had a 9:15 show, we had an 11:45 show, we had a 1:15 show, and then we had a 4:15 show, and then finally a 6:15 show.

GM: Where was this?
NH: This was in Elko, Nevada.

GM: Wow. Those Indians are slave drivers.
NH: Well, they are. And I got fired after the 9:15 show because they weren’t happy with the quality of the performance, you know?

GM: Seriously?
NH: Seriously. This is a bad business to be in, entertainment.

GM: How do they break that to you, something like that?
NH: They tap you on the shoulder, just like in a cartoon.

GM: And say “scram”? “Am-scray”?
NH: “Mr. Hamburger, your services are no longer required.” You know, with a slight American Indian accident.

GM: I don’t know much about your backstory. When and how did you get into show business?
NH: Well, you know, it’s something that you fall into, much as the same way you’d fall into an open manhole and end up right in the sewer. I started out when I was just in high school doing comedy open mics, thinking, you know, this was my future. And it was my future, in a sense. But not quite the future that I dreamed of. I mean, at this point I’m having to do nearly 400 shows a year just to keep afloat. It’s not the most lucrative field.

GM: Certainly when you play Madison Square Gardens it’s gotta be fairly lucrative.
NH: Well, you’d be surprised. Those guys had an avocado dip backstage that was spoiled. You know, that’s in my dressing room.

GM: You gotta get a new rider.
NH: I don’t think there’s any rider that asks for spoiled food. But here you feel that you’ve really made the big time and then you take a mouthful of this stuff and you’re dialling 9-1-1. I mean, this is very poisonous.

GM: How did that show go? I’ve seen you in a couple different venues and people aren’t the friendliest when you’re on stage. At least the times I’ve seen you. Were they behind you 100 percent at Madison Square Garden?
NH: They were, uh, quite negative. We have to be honest. They started chanting the word, “Ass-hole” and they never let up. Half an hour of people chanting “asshole” at you. Now, the same thing happened to Pope John Paul II when he played there, so I know that these things do happen.

GM: How do you go on from that?
NH: The show must go on. You just keep telling your goddamn jokes.

GM: Have you had a show where people have just been on board with you totally?
NH: We’ve got a lot of those shows. We really do. But a lot of times those are going to be your smaller headlining shows. Now, a Madison Square Gardens opening slot, that’s a whole different kettle of fish.

GM: Was that with Tenacious D?
NH: Yeah, exactly. So you’re dealing with their crowd. If I were to open for, say, Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band, it would be the same problem. These kids come out, they see their heroes and they’re all stooped up on God-knows-what and somebody else takes the stage. Now, I don’t take it too personally because if you went to see Tenacious D and let’s say The Little River Band came out, they’d get booed off the stage as well. And those guys, as we know, have had many hits.

GM: Yes, they’re classics. When you played here with Tenacious D, that was your last time in Vancouver, right?
NH: I believe it was, yeah. We haven’t been up there in a while.

GM: And before that I saw you at the Railway Club.
NH: Yeah, and that was just a few months before.

GM: You play all over the world, and you’re “America’s Funnyman”. How do you translate to the other countries?
NH: Well, you know, when we play places like Malaysia, it doesn’t translate. It’s a disaster. When we play places such as England or Canada or Australia – I’ve done 15 tours now in Australia – it’s no problem. People are people all over the world. They love to laugh. You may have to alter some of the jokes slightly. I had a joke about Panda Express, which is a very bad, very poor quality Chinese food chain down here in America. And we were up in Toronto two shows a couple weeks ago and we had to change the joke to be about Manchu Wok, which is a low quality Chinese food chain up in Toronto and perhaps in Vancouver as well, I don’t know.

GM: I don’t know, either. I can’t help you on that one. But that’s the kind of dedication and professionalism that we can expect from you, that you will take the time to adjust your jokes.
NH: And to do the research. A lot of these comedians show up at the show and they’re stoned out of their minds. And they come out and they just start telling jokes about – well, they’re not even jokes. They’re just long tales about what they had for breakfast that morning and about what the stewardess said on their flight there and about how they need to do their laundry. And they’re just going on and on about their horrible, horrible lives. And of course the audience at large is waiting for a joke. You don’t get it. You don’t get it. You just get this annoyance. And so we’re trying to do the opposite. We give the people as many jokes as we can cram into the show. And we feel that that is treating the audience correctly. And I’m sorry that some of these so-called alternative comedians or even some of the more popular ones feel that a performance should consist of a recounting of all the horrors in their horrible lives.

GM: You are a master of the riddle, which has fallen out of favour with a lot of stand-up comics.
NH: Well, because these guys are lazy bums, you know? They can tell one riddle at the end of five minutes talking about their underwear or the zipper on their pants or a conversation they overheard on the bus. And that’s very cheap comedy, I think. I think that if you’ve got five minutes, then we want 40 jokes.

GM: How many are in your arsenal?
NH: At this point we must have ten thousand.

GM: Wow. So you have like a big Rolodex in your brain?
NH: I can’t afford a real Rolodex so it is in my brain. Although I guess over at some of these 99 cents shops they do have knock-off Rolodexes but the cards don’t move very smoothly. So it’s probably better to either use the original brand, the Rolodex itself, or just use your brain.

“I’m sorry that some of these so-called alternative comedians or even some of the more popular ones feel that a performance should consist of a recounting of all the horrors in their horrible lives.” – Neil Hamburger

GM: Is there one country that really gets you more than any others? Or is it as you say, people are people?
NH: Well, I would say that none of them do, in a sense. But we do pretty well in Australia and America and Canada and England. This summer I’ve got a bunch of shows in Scotland and Ireland. So we try to bring this wherever the English language is still in favour. Now, we would not try to take this tour, say, to Bulgaria because I’m not convinced that it would translate.

GM: That’s probably wise. You have good handlers and advisers.
NH: Oh, those guys would send me to Mongolia, I tell you. They don’t care about anything. What can you do? You gotta keep doing the shows wherever you’re sent, you keep trying to put on the best show that you can. Guys like Carrot Top come out there and he just basically – I mean, not literally but basically – defecates onto the crowd. And, you know, that’s no way to treat an audience.

GM: You open for a lot of rock-n-roll bands. Do you enjoy that type of music?
NH: Well, let’s face it, it’s no Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. It’s always so loud. It always has to be loud, you know. And of course a lot of these kids, I think the loudness has shaken something loose in their skulls, you know? And you get people vomitting and that type of thing and it’s all very acceptable in that scene. A lot of these guys don’t take the trouble to put on a clean change of shirt and pants, let alone a suit and tie. If I’m on a tour with a rock-n-roll band, it’s gotta be one that understands the basic tenets of showmanship. Some of these guys I wouldn’t accept the show. Some of these guys are real slobs.

GM: These guys obviously really like you and respect you, even if their audiences don’t.
NH: I have no idea. I’d like to think that. I’d like to think that. But some of these guys are great guys. Some of the music is quite palatable. But sometimes I get offers to play with some of these people and let me tell you, you have to turn it down. Now, I’m not going to turn down much. We had an offer to perform for a roofing crew who was paid to put a new roof on in this senior citizen’s housing complex. This was in summer. This was in Alabama. I mean, it was not a great gig. These guys, I guess they do the roofing all day and then at night they crack open a couple of beers and they want some entertainment. And so the foreman of the roofing crew decided to bring in a comedian. I was available, inexpensive and in the area. So we did that show and it was, you know, not the best show that I’ve taken. So you just don’t know. Some of these rock-n-rollers, sometimes their crowds are quite nice. Good kids. Sometimes these kids are loaded out of their minds throwing up rum in all directions and throwing sharpened coins. I mean, you get some real jerks. Some of these little kids you just want to step on them, they’re such assholes.

GM: You mention bad shows you’ve had, but is there one that stands out as a particular lowlight in your career?
NH: Well, you know, some of the bigger ones with Tenacious D that didn’t go as planned, some folks might say that was a lowlight: You had people booing at your for 45 minutes straight. But I say it wasn’t so bad because, you know, you get used to that sort of thing. At least I got paid with a show like that. At least there were some folks there. But some of the real low ones are you drive for ten hours and you show up at this nightclub and your first thought is, well, this place is burned to the ground. This is not a functioning club. It looks like the skeleton of a building. And then you realize that it is a functioning club and that’s where you’re performing. And you walk into the building and it looks like, you know, a tornado’s hit it and there’s a couple of surly guys with cut-off sleeve shirts sitting there and that’s it. And at the end of the night they say, ‘Well, we can’t pay you because nobody came but we do have a leftover omelet in the refridgerator that we could thaw out for you for your drive.” That’s a bad show and we get that more often than you’d expect.

GM: Is there a particular highlight of your career where everything was clicking?
NH: Yeah, I did some shows earlier this year with a rock-n-roll group called Faith No More. We did some shows in Australia and in San Francisco and I really had a good time. These guys really treated me well and it was just the kind of class act that you would like to be associated with. I don’t know if it was quite up there with if I got asked to tour with what’s left of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, or the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra even, but it came damn close. And these guys, you know, do wear suits and ties on stage. And it was a real good time.

GM: So I guess that’s what keeps you going on, in hopes that there are more gigs like that.
NH: We did a show with one of these punk... the hate sort of music. And these guys, you could see yellow under their arms. They’re wearing white t-shirts with their own band on it and they’ve sweated so much it smells like these guys have a no-shower policy. I went and used my own money – and I’m not getting paid much to do this, let me tell you – I went and used my own money to buy these guys some of these little sanitizing wipes and gave it to them backstage and said, “Why don’t you freshen up with this before you go out and perform for this crowd that paid money to see you?” And these guys just laugh at you. You know, that’s not the type of gig that you want.

GM: I didn’t realize that you had a shower policy.
NH: It’s just that I believe that as entertainers there are certain unwritten rules to how you conduct yourself. And when these guys are younger, I’m trying to mentor them, as you might say, and give them a little bit of advice from some of the things I’ve picked up. And one thing I’ve picked up is that an audience doesn’t like to have a trash man come on stage, you know what I mean? So I’m trying to give these kids some advice to help further their career but a lot of them aren’t interested.

GM: I see you’re on Twitter now. That doesn’t seem to jibe with your old-school mentality.
NH: No, it doesn’t, really. But this is a popular thing I was told I had to do.

GM: Are you handy with the computer?
NH: Not really. I mean, I have to borrow computers but nowadays everyone has a computer. It’s as simple as you stop at a truck stop and there’s a coin-operated computer there. These computers are everywhere. And most of the bands that I work with are travelling with computers so you don’t need to own one; you can borrow one. And that’s when I send out these little messages that the kids seem to like. There’s no pay for it, that’s for sure, but you can advertise things on there. I don’t know if you’ve seen some of the websites, the Twitter websites, that Pringles has or TGI Fridays or Pepsi-Cola, but they all have Twitter sites where they send out little advertising messages. And so we’re trying to do the same thing. But of course for me the best advertising message would be a joke.

GM: That’s right. And then people go, “Hey, this guy’s funny. I’m going to go see him when he comes to town.”
NH: You’d like to hope that. You really would.

“I’m trying to store as much as I can because at these nightclubs, these guys change their mind as to whether or not they’re going to give you free drinks. And if you set it down on something, who knows who’s going to put something in the drinks so it’s better to hold it close.” – Neil Hamburger

GM: You come on stage with two or three drinks.
NH: It’s something like with a camel has a hump to store the liquid. I’m trying to store as much as I can because at these nightclubs, these guys change their mind as to whether or not they’re going to give you free drinks. While they’re pouring them, you wanna get them, you know, and hold onto them. And if you set it down on something, who knows who’s going to put something in the drinks so it’s better to hold it close.

GM: And what’s your drink of choice?
NH: Well, we drink a mixture. A bit of vodka, is a good one. Some soda water, a bit of lime juice, maybe ten percent Clorox bleach because a lot of times they don’t wash the glasses so it’s good to run that through the whole system.

GM: You have a bit of a phlegm problem. Have you seen a medical professional about it?
NH: Well, I don’t think I do. But I don’t always have the time or the finances to seek medical treatment. But a lot of things, a lot of cancers and things like that, will cure themselves if you eat well. So we stick to strictly canned fruits and things and stay away from some of the deep fried things that a lot of the comedians eat.

GM: You joke a lot about celebrities. You’ve been on Jimmy Kimmel, you’ve achieved some fame. Have you met any of the celebrities that you’ve skewered over the years?
NH: Well, I’ve met a lot of celebrities. Usually if I meet them I haven’t skewered them because if I’ve skewered them I don’t want to meet them. The people I have something to say about, a lot of these people really are vermin. And if you were given a chance to meet Mussolini or Hitler, you probably wouldn’t want to because those are very, very bad people. You take somebody as rotten as, you know, a Britney Spears or a Smashmouth, I mean, I really would not like to meet those people. They’re very unpleasant people.

GM: But the way you’re hanging out in Hollywood, it could just happen. You could be at the same place and they could say, “Hey, I heard what you said about me.”
NH: I was in a restaurant not so long ago and a friend of mine spotted one of the Red Hot Chili Peppers sitting at the table across from ours and said, “Neil, there he is. There’s your chance.” Now, of course, one of my biggest hits in this business, one of my successful routines is my 15 minutes with the Red Hot Chili Peppers jokes. And in a sense, it would be worth saying hi and getting to meet these people in person, but in another sense what’s to stop them from taking one of their tainted syringes that these guys carry around and stabbing you with it and the next thing you know, you’ve got Hepatitis B. So I got right out of the restaurant before they noticed me. That’s called self-preservation and you see that amongst all the animals in the wild.

GM: Is there a celebrity now that you’ve added to the act? Because they’re always making the news.
NH: Well, we get jokes about all the up-and-comers. Justin Beiber, of course, is very popular right now. He’s one. There’s a few comedians out there I dislike that we’re telling jokes about, but of course I can’t give their names in an interview because these guys sit at home in their boxer shorts drunk as shit looking on Google to find any mention of their name.

GM: Ah, David Cross.
NH: But if I say so-and-such is a real dirt bag, then the next thing you know I got that guy on my case. But it’s a fairly anonymous thing to do on stage in Vancouver so we can tell it like it is there. The internet destroys everything. On the internet these guys track you down. And of course whatever jokes I’m planning on doing in Vancouver, even if I wrote them the night before in Seattle, some piece of shit asshole films it on the cell phone and puts it on YouTube, the whole damn show. So there’s a lot of people that stay home. They say, “Well, I’ll watch last night’s show.” With this cell phone shoot. For free. That’s what kills it.

GM: How is the Neil Hamburger we see on stage different from the Neil Hamburger we see at home? I know comics have an exaggerated persona on stage. Do you have hobbies? What do you do on your down time?
NH: Most of those guys’ exaggerated persona is on stage, and then on stage they seem likable. Most of these guys, I’ll tell ya, the minute they get off stage they’re the biggest pieces of shit you ever met. Most of them; not all of them. But as for me, what you see is what you get. Now, I would say that my personality didn’t used to be like my stage persona, but I think I’ve been on stage so much that they’ve become one and the same. And I have so little time off. I suppose when I’m not on stage, as you notice the cadence of my voice is wearier and a little more tired. But on stage you’ve got to really give it your all and really throw something into it. But off stage there’s an exhaustion that sets in. It’s sad, really. And of course off stage I’m not telling as many jokes. In fact, off stage I sort of use it as a chance to be quiet and to hopefully get some sleep.

GM: Do you have family?
NH: Well, you know, I wouldn’t call them family as such. When you’re estranged from your family, is that really family? It’s an interesting question. And I’m sure that when I get sued by another member of one of them it’s a question that the courts will address.

GM: Do you get recognized when the tux comes off?
NH: I’m trying to stay as undercover as possible. It’s very hard to do. It’s very hard to do. I’ve got a couple of, I guess you’d call them polo shirts that some executive donated to the local leukemia society and I was able to purchase these things at a greatly discounted price. This is casual business attire, shall we say. So if you’re taking a bus or something like that you’re not going to want to wear a tuxedo so I go with casual business attire.

GM: But on stage it’s always a tux or a suit of some kind.
NH: Well, yes, because this is a job. Would you be happy if you went to the courtroom and your lawyer was dressed in a NOFX t-shirt? Clearly not. I think courtroom attire is the minimum of what you should wear on stage because these people in the audience paid good, hard-earned money to see this. For you to come out dressed like a slob, I think you owe these people a refund.

GM: Is Hamburger a stage name?
NH: Yes, that’s a stage name. Everyone in show business has a stage name. Robin Williams, that’s a stage name. His real name is Piece of Fucking Shit Vermin Joke Stealer Dog Breath. And I had my real name, which, of course, was Neil Double Bacon Cheeseburger, which is much too long of a name. So we had to shorten it for show business and go with just the simple Hamburger.

GM: What can you tell me about Hugh Phukovsky?
NH: He’s a great guy. We’ve done some shows together over the years. When I’ve got a show in Vancouver, that of course is the go-to guy you want on the bill because he’s really one of the quality comedians, I think. Not only in Canada but in all of North America. And why that guy hasn’t gotten his full due and why doesn’t have a mansion, I don’t know. The same, I would say, for myself. And then you’ve got Carrot Top, who’s getting five figures a night to go out there with a suitcase and dump it on the stage. You really have to wonder where the justice is, when guys like Hugh or myself are struggling so badly.

GM: But Hugh will wear a grimy t-shirt when he’s on stage.
NH: Well, that’s part of the act. That’s the thing. If it’s part of the act, then go ahead. Now, the minute that it’s not part of the act, I’m going to be on his case and tell him you’ve got to wear something reasonable. Now, I’m assuming the grimy t-shirt is in fact a new t-shirt with stage grime on it. You know, they use stage make-up to make it look grimy. I’m going to have to assume that’s not really a grimy shirt because I don’t think a professional of his calibre of professional comedian would go out on stage looking like a dirtbag unless they were playing a character. If you’ve ever seen Abbott & Costello, you’ll see that sometimes those guys will have soot on their face because they’re playing miners. That does not mean they are miners or that they would come out on to a stage with soot on their face. But if you are a miner working in the coal mines you will have soot on your face. In the case of Abbott & Costello, it wasn’t real soot. It was, in fact, stage make-up.

GM: Point taken. Also on the bill here is someone named I Kandee. Do you know anything about him?
NH: Well, I don’t know who I Kandee is. I guess we’ll find out. But I have to assume it’s another quality act. We’ve had some real problems with some of these awful bands slipping onto the bill. Some of the local bands. And these guys, they can’t play, they can’t sing, and it really wears out the audience. By the time I take the stage everyone wants to go home. So hopefully, and I’m assuming that I Kandee is a quality act to have been added because this type of venue is very thoughtful about what they put on the bill when some of them are not thoughtful. So we do appreciate that we will be at a thoughtful venue.

GM: How did this gig come up? Did somebody approach you or did you say it’s time to go back to Vancouver?
NH: I don’t know all the ins and outs of it, but it definitely was time to come back to Vancouver. We had not been there for, oh geez, almost three years, I think. But then on the other hand, I know there was a time where I think I did six shows in the space of a year there. So things come and go and it was time to get back.

GM: Pretty soon after here you’re going to Edinburgh. Will that be your first time there?
NH: I have not been there. We did a show in Glasgow, Scotland, some years back but have not done a show up in Edinburgh. We’re making up for lost time because I’ve got seven shows in seven nights. That certainly gives people a chance to catch the act.

GM: I heard that over there it’s tough for American comics unless they put down their country, and that’s probably not something you’d do.
NH: I don’t think so. I’m not putting down the country to get a cheap laugh. There’ll be other things I would put down to get a cheap laugh. You know, if you’re putting down Limp Bizket to get a cheap laugh, well, they certainly deserve it. You know what I’m saying? And as for America, this is the place that I live and work and it has been very hospitable to me. And for me to go there and knock it just so these drunks can get a cheap laugh, that’s something I would never do. Now, I’m happy to put down certain American icons, if that helps. We don’t have any reason to McDonald’s or something of that nature. That is something that I’m happy to put down because let’s face it, the food is poor quality.

GM: That’s debatable.
NH: No, I’m sorry, it’s not debatable. And if you think it’s debatable, I suggest you reserve the last quarter of this article and you go and order one of these Egg McMuffins and do an unbiased review of it and see how it goes. I think you’ll find that it’s real crummy food. Now I hope that because McDonald itself sounds to me like a Scottish type of name, hopefully in Edinburgh they don’t have an affinity for that. But I suspect that they probably feel that the name McDonald has been tarnished by this American fast food chain and thus we’ll be on the same page.

GM: I look forward to watching you in Edinburgh on YouTube, and seeing you live in Vancouver.
NH: Well, let’s hope that the YouTubeskis stay the hell out. But they don’t. I was looking up Carrot Top the other day just to see what the competition is doing. Somebody’s got a video of him urinating behind a dumpster, behind a Taco Bell dumpster. And you know, that’s something you really have no right to post. It’s not his show. It’s a private moment. But somebody posts it and that’s the problem with the generation of YouTube. And then of course if you want to get any of this stuff yanked, you’ve got to submit a blood sample and your first born child. It’s really a bad situation.

GM: Why is it you said you wouldn’t talk about other comics, yet you’ll throw out Carrot Top? What do you have against that guy?
NH: Carrot Top has been talking shit about me for as long as I can remember. So the gloves are off in that war. I think he’s actually one of the finer comedians out there going out there, but for him to go on stage as he does night after night and say these horrible things about me, I mean, that is really, really uncalled for.

GM: I didn’t realize he was doing that. That is uncalled for.
NH: Well, I haven’t seen it, but I’m assuming he is. So we’re going to have to put an end to that war and perhaps team up. Maybe for a commercial.

GM: Maybe he could open for you.
NH: Well, you know, I don’t know. I don’t know if I’d ask that. As far as I’m concerned, he does have a little bit more lineage and should probably be the headliner, but I will tell you that to open for him would be something I would love to do.

GM: I heard he has a home in Whistler.
NH: He probably has a home in every city on the map because the man is overpaid.

GM: True enough. Okay, well, thanks so much for talking with me. I’ll see you here.
NH: I will see you there. Thank you so much for writing about me. And of course please tell the truth. Don’t colour it with lies, as a lot of the journalists do these days.

GM: Well, that’s what we’re taught.
NH: Well, I know it is. And I would hope that you can break through that and thus put yourself in a better position to win the Pulitzer prize.

GM: I’ll try. It’ll be hard.
NH: See what you can do.

GM: Okay. Thanks so much, Neil.
NH: Thank you. Good bye.