Follow GuyMacPherson on Twitter

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Oct. 19: Kevin Banner

Banner, left, with Garrett Clark
The triumphant return of standup comic Kevin Banner happens tonight. Kevin made his first appearance on What's So Funny? in 2012. Since he's gone on to be featured in The Georgia Straight and open for his hero Norm Macdonald at the Vogue Theatre, we thought it's time he returned. Thankfully, he agreed. When he's not playing strip poker with Garrett Clark, the big boss man from Sooke loves his wrestling. But he's also really funny, which is a wonderful trait for a professional comedian, I think you'll agree.

We are on the air at 11 pm PST on CFRO, 100.5 FM, in Vancouver. If that doesn't suit you, try livestreaming us at coopradio.org. You'll find that works, too.


Banner, centre, with Norm Macdonald (left) and Sean O'Connor

Monday, October 13, 2014

Podcast episode 361ish: Alonzo Bodden

Here's the Alonzo Bodden episode you've been longing for. I believe he's on another What's So Funny? episode but he had to share it with other interviews I did at the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal years ago. This time he gets the full hour. And we make good use of it, talking about his knowledge of Canada, bad basketball, smooth jazz, pop culture, Condoleezza Rice, racism, drugs, Dennis Miller, and which was the best season of Last Comic Standing (hint: he's biased). It's the very definition of wide-ranging. The only thing we didn't talk about was the kidney he donated to his brother earlier this year, because why would you? (Plus I'm an idiot and forgot.) Enjoy.

Listen right here right now or download the episode at iTunes, Stitcher, PodcastLand, etc. Wherever fine podcasts are dispensed.




Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Podcast episode 360ish: Dana Alexander

Dana Alexander was the first guest on What's So Funny? a decade ago. She was also on a missing episode in 2007. So this is officially her second appearance, even though it's really her third. She currently lives in England, which is her hub on her road to world domination. She's performed in about 20 countries. Even though she could only list off 17 of them, I'll believe her. We had a good time on this episode reminiscing about her days in Vancouver and she told us what it's like to be a Canadian in the old country.

You can stream the whole thing right here. Or go download it at iTunes, Stitcher, PodcastLand or anywhere fine podcasts are distributed.




Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Jim Gaffigan interview

Here's a chat I had with Jim Gaffigan over the phone last month. He was calling to plug his upcoming show (which has come and gone) but we also talked at length on his latest book, his working relationship with his wife, and his "first bus" theory of comedy writing, among other things.

Jim Gaffigan
September 5, 2014

"I like the idea of hitting people after you've hit them. There's nothing funner than laughing and then you have to laugh again before you can catch your breath."
– Jim Gaffigan


Guy MacPherson: Hello, Jim?
Jim Gaffigan: Yes, hey. Thanks for doing this interview, by the way.

GM: My pleasure.
JG: I recognize that name. Have we talked before?

GM: Yeah, we've talked twice before.
JG: All right. But wait a minute, you're in Vancouver and we've talked twice before just about Vancouver?

GM: Yeah.
JG: Wow, that is crazy. So then we talked when I was doing that Late Night Comics of Letterman show, right?

GM: That's right. With Jake Johannson and Eddie Brill.
JG: Oh, that's amazing.

GM: And I think I met you after that show.
JG: Okay. It's so funny because I have a horrible memory but I was like, 'I recognize this name.'

GM: 2005 was when we first talked.
JG: Yeah, that's a million years ago. You just do Vancouver? Or do you sometimes do Toronto?

GM: Nope, just Vancouver.
JG: All right. Oh, you know I also have a book coming out in October? Food: A Love Story.

GM: Another one.
JG: Another one.

GM: And you write these yourself.
JG: Yeah. I mean, I write everything with my wife.

GM: Yes, I knew that. But does she get credit on the book cover?
JG: No, she doesn't. It's a strange predicament. If the point of view of the book is this out of shape, pudgy blond guy, then I don't think it should be from both of us. But the good thing is I'm doing a TV show where she's totally getting credit, where she's an executive producer and I'm an executive producer. So that balances that a little bit.

GM: What is the TV show?
JG: It'll be called The Jim Gaffigan Show on TVLand next June.

GM: A sitcom?
JG: It's going to be a single camera comedy.

GM: Nice. You got it going on.
JG: It's all going on.

GM: She may not get credit on the book, but you make it clear in interviews and stuff that she is your writing partner.
JG: Yeah. Logic would tell you that if it's Food: A Love Story by Jim and Jeannie Gaffigan, you're going to have a different expectation. But Food: A Love Story by this one guy, you have a certain expectation: Oh, Jim Gaffigan is obsessed with food. Whereas my wife, we worked on this book together and there were plenty of times where she's like, 'I completely disagree with this.' So it's not her point of view, the book. It's her kind of turning some of my dribs and drabs of a madman into a more readable essay.

GM: Kind of like an editor or second set of eyes?
JG: Yeah, but her comedic writing value is pretty significant so I don't want it to feel like she's just an editor. Essentially I'm trying to not get in trouble.

GM: This is your second book, right?
JG: Yes, second book. The first one was Dad is Fat. That was about me being the father of five young children. And this one's Food: A Love Story which is all about why I'm fat.

GM: I see a theme here.
JG: Yeah. A big, fat theme.

GM: How do you find the time with five kids to write two books, let alone travel. Although travelling you can get away from them.
JG: It's very much a balancing act. It's one of those things where I used to romanticize laziness, just doing-nothing days and now they're just a fantasy of doing nothing. But the reason I find time is it doesn't feel like work. I mean, it's definitely a grind and there's a lot of late nights, but I was excited to write this book. Food is something that I've been writing about for 15 years so a lot of the elements were there. It's like standup: After hopefully being a pretty decent parent all day, the idea of going out and doing a show at 8 or 9 o'clock at night would seem unappealing but I enjoy it so much, I look forward to it even if I'm tired.

GM: What are the age ranges of your kids?
JG: Ten, eight, five, three, one. The one-year-old will be two on the 27th.

GM: And don't you still live in the same apartment?
JG: We moved. We moved from a two-bedroom I like to say to a one-bedroom. But no, we moved to a much bigger place.

GM: Still in New York?
JG: Yeah.

GM: How long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?
JG: I would say Dad is Fat came out I wanna say May 2012 and they made an offer I think the second week it was out for another book. And I had always thought of doing a food book. And again, I had tons of notes on different food topics, just as a comedian. So I'd say it took me a good year to write it. Dad is Fat was 260 pages and I think this one's 360. And my expectation was that I was going to cut a bunch of stuff, because when you write things you're like, 'Well, this is completely overlapping.' But stuff didn't overlap. So I have an essay on cheese and I have an essay on crackers and I remember saying, 'Well, maybe I'll get rid of one of these.' But there wasn't an overlap. I mean, I definitely cut some stuff but I thought there was going to be more cuts but it ended up where I didn't need to, if that makes sense. Do you know what I mean? But you know as a writer, there's things that you like about certain things you write and things you like about other things you write.

GM: And cheese and crackers go together.
JG: Yeah, they do.

GM: You can't have one without the other. Was there any crossover from your act to the book?
JG: Yes. Very much so. For instance, there's an essay on bacon, there's an essay on hot pockets. But in standup, there is a focus on efficiency and getting to the nub of the joke, whereas in an essay all the pieces that didn't even fit in to a topic, such as doughnuts, I could include in the essay. Do you know what I mean? If I write like ten minutes on bacon, my bacon chunk in standup might only be six minutes but I still have those other four minutes. Or there's some stuff that I've written in standup, that I've tried in standup, but for different reasons it wasn't working or I didn't like the way it was going but it makes a great essay. I have stuff about sushi that I tried a couple years ago that makes a great essay that I don't know if it'll be standup. And then also I had this whole thing going way back about going out to dinner. Once I did that as a topic in my standup, I would come up with other observations about going out to dinner but I'd already done the topic. So it fit better in the essay than starting another topic. I think I had 20 or 30 pages on salads alone because there's different salads: there's the taco salad, which I kept kind of working on over six or seven years but it still never ended up in my act. And then there's an essay portion on the salad bar, there's an essay portion on how mayonnaise can turn everything into a salad. Obviously when you write a book, you read it so many times. It's just insane. You see my personal view of an attitude toward a food item, hopefully it's funny but it's a little bit – when I consider how I've written about cheeseburgers over the past 15 years, you realize there's just an insanity to it. There's also something very universal about it.

GM: Well, I'm thinking now with how food shows are so popular and books, the foodies will love it.
JG: Yeah. I didn't end up using this comparison in the book, but the foodie thing is, I'm an everyman food lover. I don't consider myself a foodie. Just like I like the Grateful Dead but I don't consider myself a Dead Head because I don't have their knowledge. A foodie will dedicate time and research an item whereas I'm much more of 'I'm coming to Vancouver. Where should I eat?' I'll ask like four or five people or I'll bring it up on Twitter and then I'll follow that one suggestion. I'm in town for one day. But I'm not on a never-ending journey to find unique dishes. I'm seeking gratification. And I'm a bit of a tourist even. If I'm in Montreal or Ottawa, I'll have to get poutine but if I'm in Calgary someone might say, 'You gotta go to this doughnut shop,' then I'll find that doughnut shop. But other than that I won't find this secret barbecue place that no one's ever heard of.

GM: You're known for long chunks on one topic. I love it when someone exhausts a topic rather than just giving me a taste of it, to use the food analogy. If you're doing five minutes on stage, how much does that translate to the page? It seems really substantial on stage. Is it substantial in book form as well?
JG: In the essay form, it's much longer and it's a different puzzle. In standup, the shorter distance it takes for you to get to the joke is better. But in an essay you take your time and you can weave in other observations that don't necessarily have to be singles. I had six minutes on bacon and there was all this other material that I never did on bacon that maybe was too similar to another observation or it would just lead down to a tangent. But if you're doing an essay on bacon, you can go down every tangent you want. Hopefully that made sense.

GM: There was a comedian in Canada, Irwin Barker, who died a couple years ago. Great writer. Like you, he'd have these huge chunks on, for example, grapes. He said it came from a challenge when someone told him to write about some mundane topic. He would first write an essay. Just a factual essay like you would in high school, then go back to it, add jokes, and trim. That's how he built it. What's your process like?
JG: I definitely don't do the essay version. It's also ever-evolving. For instance, if I get a topic – in my last special I did weddings. Some of it was inspired by this underlying view that weddings are silly, which is a relatively universal concept. Some of it is improvising on stage on the topic. Then I would say I've got two minutes on weddings, what else about weddings are the facts about it? So there's the registry, there's the rehearsal dinner, there's the honeymoon. It's compiling every kind of sub-topic on a topic and then going through and seeing my point of view on it and then elaborating on it. Some of why I stick to a topic is, again, the efficiency of standup is the less time in between laughs... It's kind of like boxing. If someone keeps punching someone, they don't have time to get their footing. So if I have to introduce a new topic outside of weddings, I have to spend some time setting that up. Usually with a comedian people will understand a comedian's point of view and kind of go along with it and have fun with that point of view. But I think there's a lot of value in staying within a topic. I definitely believe that volume is important. And thoroughness. I like the idea of hitting people after you've hit them. There's nothing funner than laughing and then you have to laugh again before you can catch your breath. This is kind of ridiculous, what I'm saying, but some of it is just the style of how it works for me. Some people go for big homeruns; I'm like a singles hitter. I like to hit a lot of singles because there's going to be different jokes that appeal to different people. The power of a tag is pretty important. It's weird because hearing myself talk about it, I'm kind of annoying myself.

GM: The same comic said it's like looking for something. Most people will stop when they find whatever it is, but he keeps looking because he might find something else.
JG: When I write with my wife, I always call it the first bus. The first bus is what people would expect. That might be a sexual innuendo, that might be a sarcastic, sardonic take on something. If you're waiting for the bus, most people get on the first bus but my whole thing is what's the second bus? If comedy is a little bit of the surprise and maybe being a half-step ahead of the audience, then that's where the comedian gains some ownership over the conversation, which is standup. So if you're talking about a topic, for instance crabs, and you don't go immediately to the crabs that we eat is also what we describe an STD, if you save that for later on... So like if you talk about crabs and how you think it's disgusting, even if people immediately went to the STD, they're going to forget it and then you can bring it up later on. 

GM: You hit them with what they know later on for a bigger payoff.
JG: Yeah. It's just like an engaging conversation. Why we think our friends are interesting and why we like certain TV shows is 'This is not what I thought was going to happen.' And there's something kind of gratifying about that.

GM: Does your standup tour have a theme like your book does?
JG: No. I guess I'm on my fifth hour of standup now. And some of it is just trying to be funny and when I do a theatre show, making sure that everyone who leaves that theatre, if I come back to town, they're going to want to come back. I certainly don't take an audience for granted. But I don't really work from a particular theme. It's weird, part of me is always kind of running away from labels: He's a clean comedian, he's the guy with five kids, he's the food comic. The reason my last special was called Obsessed is because I had tried so many specials before that to not talk about food that on Obsessed it was like, alright, I'm just going to talk about food. And I talk about other things, too. So now I'm trying to evolve. Maybe there's a little bit more storytelling. I don't have that much control over what I'm doing. The most important thing is to be funny. I'm not trying to completely reinvent myself. I think comedians get way too much credit and criticism for what they do anyway. I'd love to say, 'Well, this time I'm being much more socially conscious.' The point of it is I'm trying to be funny and get better at it. That's the important thing, I think.

GM: You write your standup with your wife, too. She's your writing partner. I'm sure there are others that do but they never admit to having anyone else work on their act with them. They could never admit it, like it's a weakness or something.
JG: I kind of have the attitude of I've been doing this so long, I don't have any concern about my ability to write material. Someone might think, 'Oh, I betcha his wife wrote that.' You know, I mean, I don't care. If it's funny. But I also know that on that same topic, writing the books that I've written with my wife, I made a point of not wanting to have a ghost writer, which is an option. I didn't want to do that. I want to be someone of substance. If you look at time-value of money, I'm probably making like two cents a book, you know? But also, it's rewarding. And I still have horrible grammar. I'm not saying I'm a novelist or one of the great essayists, but it's still rewarding that I did that, that I have two books on a shelf that I wrote with the immeasurable assistance of my wife.

GM: But going back to standup, because you work on your standup together, too, and there seems to be a stigma.
JG: I totally get it. Standup is a very personal thing. It wasn't that long ago when people would hire writers and there are some huge stars that have writers that write their standup. Supposedly Paul Mooney wrote Richard Pryor's hour or whatever. The whole thing is, it's a really personal thing for standup to not have a writer. That being said, I don't have a writer; I have a writing partner. I think of my wife as kind of a secret weapon. If I'm on my fifth hour, without my wife I certainly wouldn't be as successful as I am. I might be on my third hour as opposed to my fifth. Some of it is efficiency. Also, there are times when you just feel funnier. I'm funnier around my wife and she's funnier around me so it's a great collaboration.

GM: And she has a comedy background, right?
JG: She did sketch comedy and she did standup for a little bit so she knows the world. In a way I feel like I've brainwashed her to my point of view so she'll come up with lines that are great that I might have come up with later on but maybe not.

GM: In your voice.
JG: Yeah. Which is also very rare because what you have to consider is every comedian deals with people coming up and saying what about this or that? And ninety percent of the time, it's not useful information. But with my wife, ninety percent of the time it is useful.

GM: Comedians also offer each other tags. Is it like a situation like that except she lives with you?
JG: I think you also nailed something where there's a lot of people that collaborate with their wife or their husband or their best friend or stuff like that. That doesn't cheapen their talent or their success. It's just that I'm much more forthright with my collaboration. Particularly on the books. I mean, everything, but we're starting to write episodes for the TV show and it's like the collaboration is vital there.

GM: What's the premise for the TV show?
JG: The TV show is essentially my life. I'm a comedian with five kids who's married to a super mom and I'm trying to balance standup comedy with being a father. But it's designed to be a show about everything really.

GM: I see why you work so hard and strike while the iron's hot. With five kids, you've got to.

JG: Absolutely. That's the other thing – and by the way, hopefully this will be the last book I write – but that was the other thing, the book also was one of those things where it's like I had done so much of this work and I knew I could do this food book so yeah, let's strike while the iron's hot and I have a thousand children so I have to pay for it, too.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Oct. 5: Alonzo Bodden

Alonzo Bodden was in town a couple weeks ago headlining at Yuk Yuk's. I go way back with Alonzo, more than ten years. I've interviewed him a few times and once matched up with him in an artists vs industry basketball game at the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal. He was a handful. He dunked on me. But I managed to score on him, too. Can't remember who won the game but let's go with my team. I could be wrong.

We sat in an empty Yuk Yuk's on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon and reminisced about that game. We also talked basketball in general and jazz, but I don't want you to give it a pass just because of that. I actually edited out a lot from both topics. We also got into issues, such as his success in Canada, the problem with ESPN and football, Miley Cyrus, growing up as a black teenager and having a gun pointed at him by the police, Condoleezza Rice, racism, having FOX News approach him to be a right wing black comic, past demons, and which season was the best on Last Comic Standing.

We're on the air at 11 pm. You can livestream us at coopradio.org.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Steve-O interview

Here's a phoner I did back in August with Steve-O, of Jackass fame. I saw the first Jackass back in the day and quite enjoyed it – at least when I had my eyes open. And I saw Steve-O on one of the Comedy Central roasts. But I didn't know a whole lot about him. Then he started doing standup, so I was forced to take notice. I didn't know what to expect with the interview, but he was great. Talked about his Canadian roots, his irrational fears, and told me about a famous comic who helped him when he was starting out in comedy. Read on...

Steve-O

August 27, 2014

"I don't have an extraordinary tolerance for pain at all; just an extraordinary need for attention." 
– Steve-O

Guy MacPherson: Hello.
Steve-O: Yeah, what's going on, man? This is Steve-O.

GM: Hey, how are you?
SO: I'm okay. How are you?

GM: I'm good. Thanks for calling. Where are you?
SO: I'm at home in Los Angeles.

GM: You think you know someone, but I just read that you're part Canadian.
SO: That's right, yeah. My mom was born in Canada.

GM: Do you feel like one of us?
SO: Sure, I love Canada.

GM: Canadians love to trumpet any Canadian who is a celebrity. Now we can add you to that list.
SO: Sure. Absolutely. I love gushing about Canada.

GM: Do you? Do you know a lot about it?
SO: Yeah, quite a bit.

GM: More than the average American.
SO: I would say so, for sure. And when I gush about Canada, it's more about how America's kind of going down the tubes. When it all goes down, I don't have a possession that I value more than my Canadian passport.

GM: You also have a British one, right?
SO: Uh-huh.

GM: So the world is your oyster.
SO: That's about right, yeah.

GM: I guess that helps because you've had some legal troubles but they can't deny you coming across the border if you're one of them.
SO: That's correct.

GM: It's like you had this all planned from an early age.
SO: A little bit, yeah. Australia is notoriously difficult to get into, as well. I just got back from a pretty major tour of Australia.

GM: That's ironic considering how their nation started.
SO: Right, I know. I think it's a touchy topic for them so they perhaps compensate in that way.

GM: Did you do your first standup tour in Canada or did you start in the States?
SO: I started in the States. I've done very well in Canada with all of my tours, historically. Yeah, Canada's been very good to me and I sure hope that this British Columbia tour's no different.

GM: You lived part-time as a kid here?
SO: I did. I lived in Toronto in 1987 and 1988.

GM: I know you started doing some kind of stunts when you were about 15. Is that the earliest you can remember?
SO: That was the first time when I started making videos of stunts like that. But it's really pretty difficult to pin a time when I started doing stunts because I've always been such a rabid attention whore. Everyone used to say that I've always been that way.

GM: Do you feel pain? Do you have a high tolerance for pain?
SO: No, I don't have an extraordinary tolerance for pain at all; just an extraordinary need for attention.

GM: And that overrides everything!
SO: Uh-huh. I would absolutely say that, yeah.

GM: You obviously can't be a hypochondriac.
SO: No, I wouldn't say necessarily a hypochondriac. I can get kinda paranoid about stuff. I've got irrational fears.

GM: Most people would have fears of the stuff you do, and yours are more of the irrational ones.
SO: Right. I'm afraid of roller coasters.

GM: So we would never see that stunt: you on a roller coaster.
SO: I mean, it's happened, but I just really hate it.

GM: Do you feel invincible? Or did you when you were younger?
SO: I wouldn't say that. I don't know that I've ever felt invincible. Even though it hasn't necessarily seemed that way, I think I've done a pretty good job of picking my battles pretty carefully throughout my career. With exceptions, of course. But I've got a history of kinda training for stuff, you know? With my skateboarding and with my stunts, my clown career. I kind of came into it with certain advantages and certain skill sets that have helped me out. So I don't know, I think in a lot of cases I did kinda pick my battles pretty carefully. For a lot of things I did, I would really kind of start small and work my way up. I'm not sure what I'm trying to say. What I really mean to say, I think, is that I worked really hard at my life and my career to appear crazier than I really am.

GM: There are inherent risks in some of the things that you've done, but you accept those and they're still safe enough where you go, 'I'm not going to kill myself; I may break some bones but I'll be okay.'
SO: Right. It's never been my intention to get hurt too bad. I always want to just kinda get hurt a little bit.

GM: What's the biggest misconception, do you think, that people have of you?
SO: It's really sort of a douchey thing to say, but I'd say the misconception about me is that I'm not nearly as unintelligent as people might think. For having made a career of doing essentially idiotic things, I think the surprise would be that I'm much more thoughtful and intelligent than anybody would have imagined.

GM: I guess you have to sort of create a brand and stick with it even if it goes against who you really are.
SO: I don't know. I'm not as worried about it anymore. I mean, I appreciate and respect the brand that I created but for years I think I've been really coming out of my shell and becoming a much more diverse personality.

GM: Do you have regrets about your past career or life?
SO: No, I wouldn't say that. People ask me so often about whether there's a stunt that I regret. I always sincerely say that my only real regret about the stunts is that I didn't do more. It's been such an intense battle for screen time. It's really what Jackass has been for us: a really heated battle for screen time. A friendly, healthy competition. But that being the case, I just wish that I dug in a little deeper and got more screen time. But that's just kinda how I feel.

GM: How many stunts do you think you've done in your life?
SO: Well, I think an accurate number would be virtually impossible to gauge. But defining 'stunt' as an ill-advised activity, I guess – something sort of dumb – there's been a lot of them. I've done a lot of dumb stuff. (laughs)

GM: Does one stand out in your mind as being particularly awesome?
SO: Sure. I jumped out of an airplane without a parachute and landed in the ocean. It wasn't the kind of airplane the word might make you think of. It was a sea glider aircraft, but an airplane nonetheless. And I jumped out of it without a parachute, yeah. That was a big deal for me.

GM: What were you thinking on the way down?
SO: Just that it was going to hurt when I landed. The thing was, for a long time I had it on my bucket list, something I really wanted to do was to stand on the roof of a car, sort of surf the car over a bridge, and while the car drove over the bridge, do a flip from the roof of the moving car over the bridge into the ocean. This was a big priority of mine. When I got around to doing it, I went down to the Florida Keys and my buddies and I rented a jet ski to film it from. So I did the stunt. The car was going 30 miles an hour. The bridge wasn't particularly big, but I was happy with it. And when we returned the jet ski, I showed the video to the guy who had rented me the jet ski. The camera had a little screen that you pull out. I said, 'Check out what I just did.' And I showed it to him. The guy just looked at me and said, 'Dude, you gotta jump out of my plane! You gotta do it!' He had this airplane and he always wanted to see someone jump out of it. He said, 'You are the guy.' That was biting off a lot more than I had intended to, but I wasn't going to have another opportunity to do that so I just went for it. It was a lot bigger of a stunt than I was really inclined to do. But I did it and I loved it.

GM: How high up was it?
SO: I would guess somewhere between 40 and 50 feet high and probably between 40 and 50 miles an hour. It was pretty gnarly. It really was a pretty big deal. Of course then my dad – and this just drives me nuts – my dad was just super unimpressed with the video. I think the video couldn't have come out better and my dad said, 'You know, there are certain things you do that you describe as really intense and really crazy that just don't look that crazy or impressive. And there are other things that aren't that bad but come off looking really impressive and crazy.' And he categorizes the airplane jump as unimpressive. And I disagree to the bitter end. I love that one.

GM: Was that for Jackass?
SO: No, that one was for my own efforts for my personal dvd series that I used to do.

GM: It's kind of funny that after all this, what lays you out is Dancing with the Stars.
SO: Yeah. That was an interesting headline, for sure. Of course, it didn't kick me out of the competition. I missed one night. When they did the live taping, I was at the hospital but I was back the next week. But yeah, I agree, there's some irony there.

GM: Have you been a fan of standup your whole life?
SO: Sure. I mean, I wouldn't say I've been a fan of standup more than most people. And I didn't intend to get into it. I got invited to do a crazy stunt at a comedy club and showed up without a stunt in mind and when I walked in and looked around, I couldn't think  of anything crazier than me trying standup. With great fear and trepidation, I committed to trying standup. The first time I had a really favourable experience. I got the sense that people were rooting for me to do well. I think that, for one reason or another, people do tend to root for me to do well and they're interested in what I have to say. That's been my experience and it really works well.

GM: Did you just craft a set? Did any comics help you with that?
SO: Yeah, you know who helped me when I got really serious about it? Dane Cook. I became friendly with Dane Cook and he really took me under his wing and helped me quite a bit. He never helped me write material but we would set a time to meet at various comedy clubs and I would do my set and he would do his set and then we would sit down and he'd give me notes. It was a really, really big deal. I don't know if the actual nuts and bolts of the notes he gave me themselves were as helpful as just the notion that he was taking his time to encourage me. It just put so much wind in my sails. Everything about it was very helpful. I remember about a year later I bumped into him and he said, 'Hey, how have you been?' I said, 'Good. I've done standup in 15 countries in the last year.' And his reaction was, 'Oh my God, comics must hate you.'

GM: I was going to say he's big enough that he could help and support you without feeling threatened but a lot of lower level comics might just resent the fact that here's this guy who comes in and now he's headlining all over the world.
SO: Right. Of course, there's been a little bit of that but I would have expected there'd have been way much more adversity than there has been. I've had really kind of minimal experience with that, or at least minimal awareness of it. I've just worked really hard at it. I hear this a lot, that there are a lot of people who have a name, who've got some sort of fame already, and then they'll jump into standup having already been famous and kind of just ride their name and not really work terribly hard or be particularly passionate about their standup, and I've never been accused of that. As long as I've been doing it, it's been really evident that I care deeply about what I'm doing and that I work really hard at it, and most importantly that I do a good job of it.

GM: I didn't see you the last time you played Vancouver. What does it look like? Is it stories? Jokes? Stunts?
SO: There's a lot of stories and of course jokes. By no means am I a spoken word performer who's not funny. The whole idea is to get laughs. And as you might expect, a great deal of stories and personal experiences which works really well for me because I think people have a genuine interest. I cater my show largely to the sensibility of the Jackass fan. And then I skew quite blue. A lot of my stuff is really, really pretty filthy and raunchy, which I don't think would be much of a surprise. I would say also that I'm my main target. I don't set out to really attack anybody but myself, which again isn't much of a surprise. And I include some physicality as well. I suppose it's an exercise of being faithful to my brand, but I do enjoy doing physical stunts and tricks and I always incorporate some of them into the show as well.

GM: I could see the Jackass fans being a bit unruly, maybe.
SO: Not too much. I wouldn't say so. If there was an intention to be unruly, I think I do a pretty good job right out of the gate of getting everybody's attention. I've had really great fortune with the whole thing, man. I'm actually seriously shocked at how well it's gone and how well received it's been.

GM: Do you define yourself now as a standup?
SO: I wouldn't say that. I would just say that I've added that to the list. And the list has really always been growing. It's pretty incredible, I would say, what I have on there, you know? Starting out as a skateboarder and a circus clown and a stuntman, author, actor, comedian. And then there's stuff I do in my personal life. In my ripe old age of 40 years, I think I've become quite an accomplished entertainer. When I fill out my immigration forms and it asks my occupation, I just write 'entertainer.'

GM: The old-fashioned entertainer who does it all.
SO: Yeah, that's right.

GM: The stuff you do in your personal life, anything there that would surprise your fans?
SO: Probably less as time goes on, but more and more I get behind causes, like animal rights and stuff.

GM: How long have you been doing standup?
SO: The first time I tried it was over eight years ago now. And I've been headlining for four years. A hair under four years, but about four years as a headliner.

GM: So when you did the roast, you had been doing standup?
SO: Right. When I did the roast, I had been touring as a headliner for just under one year.

GM: Would you do another roast?
SO: It's not really my style. I don't know that insult comedy's really my thing as much. Then at the same time, I don't know that I would want to turn down an opportunity like that. I think I've improved in my craft so much since that last one. I'm not going to say that I would pass on it, but I'll also say that I struggle at being mean to other people. I think I would probably figure out a way to do it. If one came up that I was interested in, I imagine I would go for it.

GM: And it would be a good way to show--
SO: Improvement, yeah.

GM: And to a worldwide audience all at once.
SO: That was an opportunity that I really wouldn't have wanted to turn down.

GM: Well, Steve. Thank you very much for calling.
SO: I greatly appreciate it, man. Thank you so much for a really fun interview.