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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Marion Grodin interview

I did a phoner with standup comic/author Marion Grodin a couple weeks ago. And I sat down with her in person a couple days ago for a future episode of What's So Funny? As you'll read here, she was here in support of her book Standing Up: A Memoir of a Funny (Not Always) Life. Here's the transcript of our telephone conversation.

Marion Grodin
November 13, 2013

"I still run into that – ‘Oh, she’s Charles Grodin’s daughter – and I’m 53 now. It’s like, well, I am and I’m very proud of it and I’m very proud of him but it’s kind of like after that it should be … but mostly she’s her own person." – Marion Grodin

Guy MacPherson: Where are you off to?
Marion Grodin: Oh, who knows, Guy? At this point, I just go where they tell me. It’s been such a hectic and great tour. I actually wake up in one state, I fly to some other state, often with multiple connections and different time zones. It’s been crazy but it’s awesome. All the events have been phenomenal, I have to say. We Jews are a fabulous lot.

GM: Are they all Jewish-related events?
MG: I’m on a Jewish book tour for the Jewish Book Council. Obviously the book is for everybody completely, but I got this book tour through the Jewish Book Council that meets in New York City I guess annually at the Hebrew College. A lot of them talk about very heavy subject matter, and while I have very deep stuff in my book, I’m a comic. So I got up and in my two minutes allotted just crushed. So I got a lot of bookings.

GM: Tell me a bit about what we can expect when you come here to Vancouver. You’ll obviously be talking about the book but will you be doing standup?
MG: I do standup. It’s not heavy-handed at all; it’s comedy. I think what’s amazing is, I’m doing a solid 30, 40 minutes of standup comedy and I’m a headlining comedian so I think they’re getting something that’s extremely unusual and phenomenal. People are having a great time. Basically I get up and I walk the room and do standup. I talk about the book and I do a very extensive Q&A so that it can be inclusive of the more substantive stuff in the book. You know, I’ve been through a lot of stuff, I’m a breast cancer survivor for ten years, I’m sober 25 years, gone through divorce and a bunch of stuff that people and women and people in general are relating with. So there’s more opportunity to get into that after the standup when I talk about the book and open it up to Q&A.

GM: So that’s what you’ll be doing here in Vancouver?
MG: Correct, yes. So people should come out and have a lot of laughs. I mean, I can’t even believe I’m going to Vancouver. It’s so amazing.

GM: Did you know we had Jews here?
MG: No, I didn’t! Not until I got booked. I’m hoping for more than one or two. That’s what I’m saying: Please tell the Jews in your article that I’m a New York City Jew. Where aren’t we? We’re everywhere. So I need Vancouver to have a really good showing to show this New York City Jew that Vancouver represents.

GM: You know Seth Rogan is a Vancouver Jew?
MG: I did not know that! I didn’t know that.

GM: Yeah. In fact, maybe his parents will be at your show.
MG: Well, I would love that. I would love to meet Mr. And Mrs. Rogan. In fact, maybe we can invite them in the article. But yeah, it’s going to be an awesome time. I’ll rock the house. We’ll have big, big laughs. And then I’ll also talk briefly about the book and open it up to Q&A, like I said where there’s more of an individual personal opportunity. A lot of people when we do the Q&A will say, you know, ‘I was just diagnosed with breast cancer,’ ‘I’m going through divorce.’ It’s an opportunity for a lot of wonderful connection and people to share about their own experiences with some of what’s in the book. There’s something for everybody.

GM: Or maybe ‘I am the child of a celebrity, too.’
MG: That hardly ever happens. It hasn’t happened but I would welcome it because there’s also that aspect of the book where I talk about growing up with a ridiculously charismatic, larger-than-life famous father who I didn’t grow up living with so it created a whole bunch of stuff, like longing for the parent who wasn’t there. It probably set up a lot of unrequitedness so I didn’t always make the best choices with men. I say in my talks that when you grow up with a famous parent, as a child there’s a very strange phenomenon where you feel like you’re famous, too. And it’s kind of a wildly rude awakening to discover that you’re not. And that you have to discover your own specialness and then go ahead and put that into the world. And so I write about that, I think very poignantly. There’s a line in the book where I got to the point where I realized even if my coat was raggedy, I had to rely on my own coat rather than be on someone else’s coat tails no matter how sparkly theirs were. By the way, just to say, I don’t think it’s unique to famous kids. I mean, I think there is a phenomenon with celebrity parents but I also think that’s universal for a lot of us. For whatever reason, having to grow up and understand that you really have to rely on yourself. For some people it’s the parents, for some people it’s their spouse. But I don’t think it’s a completely unique thing to celebrity children.

GM: Sure. Everyone’s parents are larger than life and a celebrity to the kid.
MG: That’s right.

GM: So they have to get out from under that shadow.
MG: And there’s also a lot in the book, just piggy-backing on what you just said, about co-dependancy. For a lot of us, I think this is very universal, the process of evolving into your own identity and feeling your own sense of mattering, your own sense of specialness, and trusting that instead of affixing to someone else’s. Just to get referred to your whole life, and I still run into that – ‘Oh, she’s Charles Grodin’s daughter – and I’m 53 now. It’s like, well, I am and I’m very proud of it and I’m very proud of him but it’s kind of like after that it should be dot, dot, dot… but mostly she’s her own person.

GM: I’m interested in your start in standup comedy in New York and when that was and who you came up with.
MG: Absolutely. When I was in my 20s, I hit a very, very severe bottom with drugs and alcohol. I got sobered up and my mother died. It was just a horrendous time in my life. I ended up getting sober and after I got sober, I met my husband, I got married and I knew I was a comic but I was terrified to, as the title says, stand up. I was terrified to stand up in my own life. I was very enmeshed with my father. I was very enmeshed with my husband. There’s the whole journey of my marriage in the book, which is very much about co-dependency. There was a lot of love but severe, severe co-dependency that really wrecked the marriage in a lot of ways ultimately. So after a few years of living in my father’s shadow – I was working on his show on MSNBC and I was a producer and I was mostly behind the scenes. Sometimes he’d have me on the show but mostly not. I mean, he wanted to, just, you know, if he had Seinfeld on as a guest, I wasn’t going to pop in and make an appearance. And after a few years of this, I was very depressed. I realized that I had this job and I had health insurance and I had a husband, but I realized I was depressed because my own light wasn’t really shining. And I was sitting in the studio one day and I was watching my father interview Sarah Jessica Parker, who was very much shining in her own light. She was so talented and so sparkly charismatic and just living in the joy of her immense talent and success. And there I was sitting in the dark audience, just me and a few other people. We’d go down to the studio at MSNBC, we’d tape, and we’d provide a little audience, and I thought, ‘Why am I cheering on everybody else’s business and neglecting and abandoning my own?’ So I quit the show, which was fairly radical because I didn’t have another job, and I went down the street on the Upper West Side of Manhattan twenty-plus years ago to Stand-up New York, which is still one of my home base clubs on 78th and Broadway. And in order to get up, you had to bring people. So I made my husband and my two best friends come down. You get five minutes. And I killed. I mean, I got huge laughs. I found it to be extraordinarily nerve-wracking, upsetting experience because I’m very self-revealing and it left me just feeling incredibly vulnerable and weird and naked. My father was waiting by the phone. After the thing everybody was, ‘Great, great, great.’ I was in like an altered state. And I went outside and called my dad. He went, ‘How did it go?’ I said, ‘Well, I got a lot of laughs but I sure hope my experience changes.’ He said, ‘What do you mean?’ I said, ‘Well, I thought like I was going to shit and have a heart attack but aside from that it was great.’ I mean, don’t quote the ‘shit’ part. That’s kind of raw. I mean, say whatever you want; I don’t care. I don’t care. I mean, that is how I felt. And I had to just keep getting up in order to get over feeling shell-shocked. Even though I was a huge performer in life, it was another thing to get on stage. And that experience left me and I’ve been doing it ever since. I think what really changes is your confidence and your comfort. When you’ve been doing it a long time, it just evolves to a place where sometimes you’re more comfortable on stage than off.

GM: So that feeling of panic left shortly after that?
MG: It didn’t leave quick enough. Definitely the first year of doing standup or even longer than that it’s pretty nerve-jangling. I think part of what changed was also in order to get up in New York City and perform, you had to do bringers. You had to bring people. That was the way the club would make money. Why would they put you, an amateur, on stage? No one’s coming to see you. So after doing bringers for a while, I thought this is just shit. I have to, like, everybody I’ve ever met. I have to join a cult. Where am I supposed to get these people from? I instituted my own show at the Duplex, which is an iconic spot in the Village where Joan Rivers and all these amazing people used to get up, and still get up, on Christopher Street and 7th Avenue South. I started my own show. We had to flyer to get an audience. Everybody who was on that show went on and did very well. It was a very hot group of people. People who’ve gone on to write books and had shows. In that group was the phenomenal Jessica Kirson, she’s amazing. Karen Bergreen, who went on to write a couple books. Demetri Martin, of course, who went on to have his own show. My friend Danny Cohen. Some people you’ve heard of, some people you haven’t. But everybody was really talented and we got amazing guests to come down. Great New York comics like Ted Alexandro, Judy Gold. And I basically, through having to get up, my friend that I co-ran the show with, Becky Donahue, the first night she saw me have to take care of myself on stage with a heckler and come out from behind the dialogue, she said, ‘Oh my God.’ I was like, ‘What?’ That basically gave birth to my style on stage, which is that I love improv. As with most things in life, it came about from a difficult experience because I was getting heckled and I had to defend myself.

GM: The street fighter came out in you.
MG: Completely. I mean, I’m a Jewish girl who went to public school. That survivor came up in me that was like, ‘Fuck you!’ It was this Spanish woman and she was like, ‘Why you talking to me? You don’t even have jokes? I have to write your jokes for you?’ And then she started attacking what I was wearing. She was like, ‘Slut, your clothes is crinkly. You couldn’t even iron?’ And after that night, something in me snapped and I was like, I will never let that happen again. And I haven’t. I love improv. And Judy Gold said, and she’s right, ‘You have to know two things when you’re a comic, and especially as a woman: You have to know who you are on stage, and you have to let them know that you are in control.’

GM: It’s amazing that exchange you had with that woman stays with you after all these years.
MG: Well, yeah. Because it was such a shift. Up to then I had been doing written material and it would go great or well enough, but I discovered I had this power which I’d been doing my whole life, which is why everybody in my life always thought I was so hilarious, just riffing. Just being in a situation and just riffing. Just going off whatever they were giving me. And that’s what I do on the book tour and people love it. I definitely do material but I also go into the audience and have fun with them, which they love because it’s immediate and it’s happening in real time, they’re involved. I can’t wait. I’ve never been there and everyone says how beautiful it is.

GM: You’ve got this brash style yet your dad was pretty subdued in his humour.
MG: Right, dry and understated. I have that, too. When you watch me do longer time. I am very edgy. I call what I do ‘edgy affection.’ Because I’m very affectionate with the audience but it’s comedy so irreverent is ground zero. I mean, of course you’re going to be irreverent. But people say this all the time when they see me live, I’m a lot like him. First of all, I look a lot like him. I also have a very dry, acerbic thing that I do and I look so much like him and I have mannerism like him. In fact yesterday I was in Virginia doing the JCC there and I was rounding the corner and a man who worked there stopped dead in his tracks and he looked at me and went, ‘Woah!’ I had no idea what he was going to say. And I’d never had this happen. He said it’s unbelievable. I was like, ‘What?’ He goes, ‘You look exactly like your father.’ I’m my version, he’s his version. But you’ll see. Hopefully you’re coming to the show. Are you coming to the show?

GM: I hope so.
MG: That’d be great. I’d love to meet you.

GM: Your dad was a serious actor first then did some comedies. But I first really noticed his comedy chops on Carson.
MG: He was under contract with Carson. That character was so impactful that Johnny Carson had my dad under contract to him, which was a huge compliment after he did The Heartbreak Kid. That whole acerbic sort of antagonistic, eccentric personality that he also became famous for on Letterman. People were just floored by it. It’s interesting because there’s a similarity between he and I because ultimately of course he has a good heart but he’s doing this thing where he’s completely giving you shit and that’s sort of similar to my thing on stage, too. So there is similarity there. I suspect if he were a comic, there’d be a lot of similarity because the whole thing he got famous for was being difficult. In essence when I’m on stage I’m giving the audience a hard time. I’m being difficult except that’s my job.

GM: Yeah, that persona isn’t foreign to comedy clubs but nobody had seen people act that way toward Carson before.
MG: I can’t even think of anyone who did or has. He was so ballsy. I can’t to this day even think of anyone who would come on and look at these iconic and beloved comic talk show hosts and say things like, ‘You don’t care about whether or not I have children. Why are you asking me that?’ It was so explosively funny. Talk about challenging authority to say that to somebody like Johnny Carson.

GM: I guess some people might have thought he was serious, but we saw what he was doing and there was respect and admiration there.
MG: I would go to school and he was so convincing. I’m getting high and smoking pot as a young teenager and I go to school and there was this one kid, Jesse, who was constantly challenging me, saying, ‘Why is your father so hateful to Johnny Carson?’ Or ‘Why did your father give Mia Farrow back to the devil in Rosemary’s Baby.’ Or ‘Why did your father leave his Jewish wife on their honeymoon for a shiksa?’ I’m like, ‘What is wrong with you? He’s not a documentary film maker.’ They’re crazy. He went on Carson talking about washing his cheese because he’s germophobic. I mean, no more than I am or most people. But he was joking. And Carson said, ‘You wash your cheese?’ The two of them, their timing and delivery were so impeccable it was so phenomenal, the next day everybody single person couldn’t wait to ask me if he washed his cheese. I couldn’t get over it. I was like, ‘Yeah, he’s washing his gouda. He’s home laundering his cheese.’ But it’s funny because I’m such a germophobe that I’m more likely to wash my cheese.

GM: I don’t know if it’s because I’m not Jewish and live on the west coast of Canada, but I never even knew Charles Grodin was Jewish.
MG: People don’t think he looks Jewish. And in the most stereotypical way he does not. And I don’t either. But we’re Ashkenazi. My grandmother, who was so Jewish, you wouldn’t know it until she opened her mouth and then you could not know it. She had blond hair and light skin and blue eyes. But it’s like anywhere. You can go to Italy and see people that look like that and you think they don’t look Italian. One of my favourite chapters in the book, which I’m dying for you to read, is I’m trying to lose weight, I’m fasting and I fly to Texas and it turns out I have landed inadvertently in a little pocket of anti-Semitism. And one of the things that happens is I get confronted by a woman at one point who said, ‘We didn’t know you were Jewish. You don’t look Jewish.’ And that really happened. It’s so offensive. I understand that, but to actually say that to somebody… I mean, are you going to say to a light-skinned black person, ‘You don’t look black’? I mean, it’s ridiculous. But I don’t mind you saying it but they were anti-Semites. But the minute I open my mouth, everybody knows I’m Jewish.

GM: I can’t believe his MSNBC show was twenty years ago.
MG: It’s crazy. Yeah, it was. Because I was newly with my husband and fairly newly sober. People loved it because it was super left to the left to the left. It was amazing. I was the field producer and I’d do these man-on-the-street interviews. I’d go out on the street during the OJ trial and all I had to do was constantly go up to black and white people and ask the if they thought OJ did it. It was ridiculous and not what I wanted to be doing. But it also helped me become a comic because I just thought I can’t ask one more person if they think OJ did it or I’ll kill myself. I didn’t give a shit if they thought OJ did it. It was like, what about my life? I wasn’t standing up in my own life. I was off to the side of my own life. And it felt bad, especially if you’re an artist and you’re not really pursuing your art. It feels lousy because you know you’re in the wrong life. You’re supposed to be painting and you’re not painting, you’re whatever, cleaning toilets. Nothing against cleaning toilets but it’s very depressing because you know your light isn’t shining.

GM: When did you write the book?
MG: I wrote the book a little over two years ago. I got a book deal because I was headlining Gotham Comedy Club and my publicist at the time invited columnist Cyndi Adams, who was blown away by me and devoted her entire column to telling people this girl should have a show, she’s unbelievable and blah, blah, blah. But she brought her very dear friend, who’s a huge literary agent and she took me on as a client and said, ‘That girl should write a book.’ I went into her office the next day, I performed my entire story in about 45 minutes. Everybody laughed and cried and at the end of it she said, ‘Where do I send the contract?’ The rest is history.

GM: What was the process?
MG: The process was excruciating and laborious and arduous and challenging on levels I had never experienced, as well as exhilarating and thrilling and gratifying and nourishing. It was just the most monumental, mighty process because the book is outstanding for it to be at the level it’s at, it took so much writing and rewriting and oftentimes having to hang in there with material that was really difficult. I led a monastic existence. I didn’t have a social life. I had to stop every form of how I earned money because I just needed the time to write. I couldn’t take a road gig and be gone for four days because that was valuable writing time. It was just an enormous opportunity and it had to be fantastic. And it is. I basically wrote in Starbucks and this cool vegan restaurant near my house. There was just a lot of writing and rewriting. The first draft of the book was twice as long. I have a really great editor. We worked meticulously. I’m just thrilled with what it yielded. The book is fantastic. I really just devoted myself to it and frankly, given more time I would have taken more time. I wouldn’t have needed it but it’s hard if you’re a perfectionist. At a certain point it’s diminishing returns. You’re not even making anything better; you just can’t leave it alone. It’s miraculous that at some point it’s done and it goes to print and it’s out there. And people are just loving it. I mean, deeply loving it.

GM: And is your dad? I read the funny quote he had on it.
MG: Yeah, he thinks it’s amazing. Interestingly, and uncommonly, my father is and has always been my biggest champion. He sees my talent completely, believes in my talent completely. He’s just proud of me. He thinks I’m a fantastic writer and all of that. I mean, he comes off great in the book. A friend of mine at one point actually referred to it as a tell-all, and I was like, ‘That’s ridiculous.’ It’s just not who I am. I confess so much about myself in this book but in terms of other people’s stuff, which everyone has, I’m not going to divulge that, about my ex-husband or my father. That’s not mine to do.

GM: It’s not a Daddy Dearest.
MG: No! You sell more books and then your father never speaks to you again. I’m not in touch with my ex-husband so it wouldn’t be a matter of him not speaking to me – we’re not in touch, not contentiously; we’re just not in touch – but I certainly wouldn’t want him to read it and feel like, ‘Oh my God, I wish she hadn’t said that or revealed that about me to the world.’ I mean, if I want to reveal stuff about myself, I can. And you draw your own conclusions. I mean, I don’t have to say that it was fucking horrible that he left after 16 years while I was still going through breast cancer treatment. I don’t have to say those words. You’re gonna read it and draw your own conclusion. The problem is if you vilify someone or you state the obvious… I don’t know. It felt base to me. I just didn’t want to do it. And things are complicated. I just told the truth in this book. I didn’t really make a lot of determinations or judgments, quote-unquote. I just really told the truth. My therapist gave me a very big compliment. She said, ‘the thing I like most about this book is it’s so frank.’ Like, it’s just no bullshit. But it’s also deeply funny and moving.

GM: Sounds like a winner.
MG: It’s a winner. It is! (laughs) I can’t wait to meet you.

GM: Likewise. What’s your dad doing now?
MG: He’s doing great. For the last chunk of years he’s been very devoted to working with things like the Innocence Project and is trying to and succeeding in getting people out of jail and in particular women of colour who shouldn’t be there or not as long as they are. He’s actually succeeded in getting a number of women out of prison, which is unbelievable. He does a lot of philanthropic work. He’s always writing, he’s always got a book. He had a book come out recently, I don’t even know the title of it. He’s very prolific so I don’t know the title of this one. But he’s also back in movies, which I think is fantastic because he’s so beloved by his fans. He’s actually coming out playing Al Pacino’s agent in the new Barry Levinson movie, so I’m sure that’ll be hilarious. He’s also playing Ben Stiller’s father-in-law in the new Ben Stiller film. He plays Naomi Watts’ father. And he’s also Michael J. Fox’s father on the Michael J. Fox show and will be seen on the Thanksgiving episode. So he’s definitely back. So that’s great. People love him and they miss him. He just did a Law & Order: SVU, which is very weird because he’s a comedic actor. But he’s a great dramatic actor. He’s playing a very serious role. But yeah, he’s on CBS radio multiple times a day and he also does an online article. He’s devoted one to my book, which is really really nice. He’s done a couple of things for the book.

GM: That’s great to hear. I didn’t know all that. I gotta get a copy of your book.
MG: You most definitely do. And you have to come to the show so I can sign it for you and thank you so much for your time.

GM: Definitely. Thank you very much.
MG: I wasn’t ending the phone call. I mean, if we’re ending it, it’s fine but I meant thank you for your time in the book.

GM: No, I think I got lots here. And we have to save some for the radio/podcast.
MG: Oh, believe me, there’s more where that came from. I never run out of stuff.

GM: Excellent.

MG: Okay, honey, thank you.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Comedy extravaganza lives up to the billing

What a night! What a show!

Friday night saw the first ever live What's So Funny?... Actually, I'm not sure that's what it was, but a case could be made for it. It was a fundraiser for our host station, Co-op Radio. When we first decided to mount the live show, having never done one before, the fear was that we'd get 12 people show up in a room that holds a couple hundred. But I figured I'd seen plenty of shows with miniscule crowds over the years, and any ticket sold was a net gain, thanks to the generosity of the six comedians, four musicians, and Pat's Pub, who all gave their services to the cause.

In the few weeks before the big event, we had sold 30-odd tickets. By the day of the show, we topped out at 70 so we were thrilled. And we had almost as many walk-ups, making it standing room only. Unbelievable. In all, we raised over $1500 for the station, which is about $1000 more than I've ever raised before.

Best of all, it was a kick-ass show. James Danderfer and the What's So Funny? Orchestra, featuring Pat Metzger on bass and Joe Poole on drums and Danderfer on clarinet and bass clarinet, warmed up the crowd until showtime and were fantastic, as usual. They even played our theme song, The Song is You, to bring me up.

Yes, I emceed, and I apologize. But I kinda had to. I certainly wasn't your typical comedy show emcee because I wasn't funny, but I had a different role. I had some announcements I had to make, bring Co-op's Viveca Ellis to the stage to make more announcements, make draws for prizes from Yuk Yuk's and the Comedy MIX, ask a couple questions to the comics after their sets, and move the show along. I had solid pros on so I knew they could handle the comedy. And boy did they ever.

What a line-up. Dino Archie got things started, followed by Erica Sigurdson, Charlie Demers, Shirley Gnome, Graham Clark and Ivan Decker. The crowd loved every single one. People were sitting on the floor with their pitchers of beer below the stage soaking in every joke.

And when the comedy ended, my old pal Eric Cottrell of She Was the Law played us out with our closing theme song and then sang some of his original songs while people mingled. It really was a special night. If you made it out, thank you very much. We appreciate it. If you didn't, well, I'll let you know if we ever do another one.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Podcast episode 332ish: Dave Martin

First an update on our iTunes situation: We're completely off. We can't figure out what's going on there. They can't figure out what's going on there. But hopefully someday soon someone will figure out what's going on there and we'll be back up and running. In the meantime, we've joined the Stitcher family! I say family because upon our arrival they tweeted about us. So welcoming, right? iTunes never did that. So go on over to Stitcher, add us to your playlists, and give us a review. Please and thank you. And of course there are other ways to find us. Like right here, for instance.

Now, onto business. Dave Martin makes his first What's So Funny? appearance in this episode. In fact, we met moments before hitting the record button on the old Zoom H4N. But we got along like a house on fire. No, we didn't run screaming from each other. Never really understood how that expression works, but I know what it means. We spoke for almost 90 minutes. There was the requisite Rob Ford discussion, since Martin is Toronto born and reared. Dave tried to use the old "but he's doing a good job" line but I would have none of it. I think I nailed him on that one, if I do say so myself. It's not a competition, though. Nor are our own shows in competition (although his is still up on iTunes, so if it were a competition, he'd have won). He co-hosts, along with 3-time WSF? guest Darren Frost, a show called Anything Goes on Sirius satellite radio, with accompanying podcast. What else? You're just going to have to tune in to find out.

As I wrote above, I highly recommend Stitcher. Get the app. Add us. Do what you have to do. I'll let you know when/if we get back on iTunes. Or, you know, you can always sit at your desk and listen right here. And if you're looking for the archives, dating back to 2004, they're all housed at

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Orny Adams interview

I had a great talk with Orny Adams the other day. If you're 12, you'll know Adams from his work on MTV's Teen Wolf, where he plays a high school lacrosse coach. But any serious fan of standup comedy knows Orny Adams even if they've never actually seen his standup. Back in 2002, he appeared in Jerry Seinfeld's documentary Comedian, and he didn't exactly come off well. But he was young. He's 43 now and been working hard at being a killer standup, less about getting famous. I caught up to him in Winnipeg, where he was touring with the Just For Laughs Comedy Tour. And freezing his ass off.

Orny Adams
Nov. 11, 2013

"I think the one thing that has changed – and I think that being in Teen Wolf has given me great confidence in the sense of carried over into my stage act – is I feel very comfortable up there. I feel like what I’m doing is an extension of myself. I feel as I’ve gotten older I understand myself and I feel more connected to my material. I hope that comes through." – Orny Adams 

Orny Adams: Hello.

Guy MacPherson: Good morning, Orny.
OA: Hang on a sec. There’s gotta be a thing, an option, when the phone rings it mutes the TV. I shouldn’t have to run around the hotel room looking for the remote.

GM: (laughs) Throw a shoe at it.
OA: (laughs) You know, the other day the alarm went off in the middle of the night. I always say they need to make sure the alarm is off when people check out. I was up at 4 a.m. I hit it. I slap it. It goes off again 15 minutes later. I don’t have the time to figure this out, right? Unplug it! That’s usually game over. It’s got batteries in it! Okay? Now it goes off again! I get up, I open the door, and I throw it in the hall.

GM: So everyone can enjoy it.
OA: Get on that, hotel! I would have put it in the elevator. If I really thought about it, I would have put it in the elevator. That would have been funny.

GM: Yeah, those things are impossible to figure out, let alone in the middle of the night when you’ve just woken up.
OA: You’re like, “What is going on?” It’s just beeping.

GM: So how are you?
OA: I’m great.

GM: How’s Canada treating you?
OA: Canada’s great.

GM: Prior to this, I know you played Montreal, but had you played much in the rest of Canada?
OA: Winnipeg, Edmonton, Toronto. I did a whole tour of Ontario for Just For Laughs. I did the maritimes last year for Just For Laughs.

GM: You’re a veteran then.
OA: Yeah, I feel very comfortable up here. I do a lot of one-off shows up here: fly in, do a show, get out.

GM: Yet you’ve never done Vancouver.
OA: I’ve never been in my life. I’m excited about that. I love Seattle, so I feel it’s a similar cli-… climate. I almost said ‘clientele.’ So yeah, I’m excited about my first trip to Vancouver.

GM: It’s an oversight. You’ve played all these places but not Vancouver.
OA: I’ve never played San Francisco. Sometimes it’s just, for whatever reason in this lifetime it doesn’t happen.

GM: You’ve been at this how many years now?
OA: I’m gonna say twenty.

GM: Are you going to say it? Is it true?
OA: (laughs) I’m not going to back it up! Uh, I know I graduated from college in 1993.

GM: And that’s twenty years.
OA: Yeah, so that feels like twenty years.

GM: And no San Francisco. Yeah, that’s weird.
OA: For whatever reason, and yet it just seems like San Francisco would be a perfect market for me. But this is life.

GM: Now you’re busy being a football coach.
OA: No, lacrosse.

GM: Is it lacrosse?
OA: It is lacrosse.

GM: Well, who’s a lacrosse coach?
OA: Not me! That’s why they have a guy standing next to me telling me what a lacrosse coach would say.

GM: I gotta admit, I haven’t seen Teen Wolf but I saw the reel on you and it looked to me like football. That’s how out of it I am.
OA: (laughs) That should be the first line in the article, that you can’t tell the difference between lacrosse and football. In football, they don’t carry sticks. It’s a very aggressive sport that is sexually charged, that I’ve read.

GM: That nobody goes to.
OA: I still don’t know the rules, though. But I don’t think that’s important. I think you’ve seen the acting. I don’t need to know the rules.

GM: I imagine a lot of the fans of the show don’t even know you’re a standup comic.
OA: Yes.

GM: How does that make you feel?
OA: I don’t know who to blame: myself or MTV. I do wish that they would utilize those skills a little bit more in, I don’t know, going out to Comic-Con or hosting after-show stuff. This is my life.

GM: What’s the age demographic for the show?
OA: I’d say 12 years old and up. You’d be surprised: there are a lot of older people that are like comic book freaks. They get really into this show. And these fans are so hard core and so loving and generous. They come to my shows, the ones that do know, with pictures that they’ve drawn or engraved whistles or T-shirts they’ve made, baked goods for me. And on Twitter, nothing but positivity. And that to me is so different than a lot of my experiences with comedy audiences, which can be brutal.

GM: Not as kind and loving?
OA: Some of them are outstanding. I would say the majority are kind and loving but there are some comedy police out there that feel like they need to weigh in. In some cases it might be good, and in other cases it’s detrimental.

GM: Oh yeah, the comedy police love factions: this group is cool; this group isn’t. It’s kinda like high school.
OA: Oh, it’s worse than high school. High school was fun.

GM: But it’s that type of thing, right? You can do no wrong unless you’re outside the group, then you’re lousy.
OA: Yeah, I’ve always felt like I’m a comedy outsider. I’ve always felt like I wasn’t part of any group. And I never wanted to be part of a group; I just wanted to do my work and do good work and then go home. I mean, even after these shows, a lot of the comics socialize and go out for dinner. I tend to go back to the hotel room and get into my head and look at my notes and figure out what I did that I’m happy about and what didn’t go the way I wanted it to go. I feel very raw when I’m on stage so it’s hard for me to sort of shake that immediately. And I think maybe this is something I’m more aware of now that I wasn’t earlier on in my career and why I wasn’t so social. And I think absolutely not being part of a group has hurt my career in many ways.

GM: So still after twenty years you’re going back and checking the notes. Do you record the shows?
OA: Yeah, I record the shows, I have notes laid out before the show. You know, it’s just part of my process. It’s what makes me feel at ease. The more prepared I feel, the better show I’m going to put on. My entire day is about preparation for the show. I’ve never been the type who’s gone golfing. Sometimes I go to museums and stuff like that but for the most part I’m in my head getting ready for the show.

GM: We saw some of that in Comedian. Are you still essentially that guy even after all this time, insecure or obsessive?
OA: I wouldn’t call myself insecure. I would say I have a need to be loved and appreciated. And I think one of the greatest differences between Orny Adams pre-Comedian and current Orny Adams is I don’t feel the need to announce or proclaim my comedy to be anything great. I don’t enjoy talking about the art of standup comedy or the process. I do a lot of interviews and they want to know what my process is because of Comedian and I don’t think it really matters. I mean, I could sit down and I could go over for two hours what it takes for me to go up on stage but none of that is relevant. All that matters is when I step on that stage, the audience thinks I’m funny and when I step off the stage they still think I’m funny. Everything else is really not important. And the more aware I’ve become since Comedian when I watch actors or musicians, or any sort of person that’s expressing themselves, talk about what they do in this sort of mighty, exalting their art form, it just comes across as so pompous and off-putting. So for me, in Comedian I really felt like maybe standup comedy is something really special and people that are doing it right really deserve some sort of special recognition. I know people like to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and stare at paintings and go to museums all over the world and look at a Renoir and say, “Look at the strokes he used and the paint colour for mood” and try to get into his brain. I wish comedy was respected on that level but it just isn’t. And it’s not my duty to sort of be the spokesman about it. I just want you to look at me on stage and think, “He’s funny. That’s clever. I’m enjoying what he’s doing.”

GM: Well if you ever played Vancouver, we could have done that.
OA: (laughs) I’ll be there in a few days and I hope you’ll come out to the show.

GM: I’m less interested in the process, too. Especially now with reality TV we see how some people get a bad edit. I’m wondering about how you felt about your edit in that movie. The critics painted you as the antagonist or somebody set up against Seinfeld, who was the hero.
OA: Seinfeld was an executive producer on this documentary. I think he was in a better position to protect his interest. I know that there was an earlier version that I saw that I liked better where there was more of my humour in there, more of my jokes, and more balance to me. But listen, this is what I signed up for, unbeknownst to me. I was unaware. This is before reality television took off and I can see how things are edited. You know, I did it, it’s out there, I’m not embarrassed, I’m proud of everything I’ve done. We’re gonna get knocked down, and that’s beautiful; the question is how do I get up and how do I handle it. And I think being in Comedian has made me a stronger comedian, which is really what I want in the end.

GM: In the movie you seemed to really want the fame. Maybe every comedian does, but you were more out there with it. But it’s funny, if you had hit back then like you wanted to, we might not be talking today.
OA: Absolutely not. My act wouldn’t be where it’s at and I definitely wasn’t ready. And who knows if I’m ever going to be ready? Somebody asked the other day if I’ve finally found my voice and I said, “No. And I hope I never do find it.” Because the minute you find your voice, it’s over. It’s over. You have to keep searching. Like Leonard Cohen, 78 years old and he’s singing that song Halleluhah like it’s pouring out of his heart and soul and it’s unlike any other way he’s ever sung it. It’s like, this guy’s really found himself and it took until he was 78 years old. And it’s beautiful in that he kept going. You know, I think a lot of people would be surprised how privately supportive Jerry Seinfeld is of my standup comedy. I think that’s the one thing I wish was more clear. Not that I need his validation but the fact that people think that Seinfeld was against me. He’s not against me. He’s a huge supporter and he’s said, “Listen, everything you’ve said on tape, I’ve said before; I just never got caught.” And after my last Comedy Central special aired, called me and went over almost every bit, was excited to talk about it, and said, “I’m proud that our names are linked forever.”

GM: Talking about factions in comedy, there’s a popular young comic in Vancouver who’s laid back and alternative. He was in Montreal and saw you and was blown away, you’re this powerhouse on stage.
OA: Huh. That’s really kind. Where was that?

GM: Montreal. At Just For Laughs. Not sure if it was this year or last year.
OA: I was there last year and the year before.

GM: I think it was last year then.
OA: Yeah. You know, the one thing I’m not good at is handling compliments. It’s the one time I’m sort of like, you know… I guess I’m so used to being kicked down and I’m so used to fighting back that when somebody compliments me, I don’t even know what to say. So that’s very touching. Thank him for me, please.

GM: I’ll just insult you from now on.
OA: (laughs) It’s easier for me to just … Like Seinfeld said, “When I watch you do standup, it’s as if they cut off all your oxygen and you had to fight your way out.”

GM: I saw you on The Tonight Show say, “The next five minutes will determine my mood for the next five months.” An exaggeration probably but talking to enough comedians it always surprises me how one show can really bum them out. To me, if you know the material works with most crowds, so what if you have a lousy audience one time. Why does it stick with you?
OA: Because we work so hard and here we are in front of five million people. We want it to work right. And there are so many circumstances that are just foreign to us. You know, you’re coming back from a commercial, you’ve got some guy out there throwing t-shirts or whatever it is. You know, you just want it to work. Take surfers: They surf every day. They catch waves. But sometimes you catch that perfect wave and you take it all the way to shore. And that’s what you want your comedy to be like.

GM: And you don’t want to be sucked under.
OA: No, you don’t. And you don’t want to catch half the wave. Some nights you catch half the wave. I think the one thing that has changed – and I think that being in Teen Wolf has given me great confidence in the sense of carried over into my stage act – is I feel very comfortable up there. I feel like what I’m doing is an extension of myself. I feel as I’ve gotten older I understand myself and I feel more connected to my material. I hope that comes through. What’s interesting about what you said about that young comedian that sounds like is more alternative, is that he related to my act, which is really high energy and really over the top. Because I would study the Rolling Stones and Mick Jagger and I thought you could say, “Meh, I don’t like that music,” but you have to admit something’s going on up there. And I like the spectacle. I like to put on a show. The other night I came so close – this is gonna sound crazy – but I came so close in Ottawa to doing the show with my shoes off. Barefoot. And I can’t tell you why except, well, it was my birthday and I just wanted to be connected to the stage that much.

GM: Like a drummer.
OA: I don’t know what it was. I just felt like, and I thought, “I wish I had the courage.” Everybody back stage was saying, “Don’t do it. This is one of the biggest theatres we’re going to play. Do it in a smaller theatre.” But then it might feel forced. When I’m on stage, I do whatever I want to do. I have that freedom. I don’t have that freedom off-stage, I don’t have it in Teen Wolf, I don’t have it in relationships, but when I’m on stage, I feel a sense of control and I really enjoy the output of what I’m saying and connecting to people.

GM: Are you in a relationship?
OA: No.

GM: Okay. Because it must be hard.
OA: It’s difficult. And as you get older, it becomes more difficult. But I will eventually, I think, when it’s time.

GM: Did you meet Obama? He was on The Tonight Show right before you.
OA: I did and I was so stupid. I tried to entertain him rather than just having a moment. I told him that I’m from Massachussetts. I said, “I’m so liberal, I’m actually for gay stem cell research.” Because those were the big topics at the time: stem cell research and gay marriage. I’ll tell you something: you can see why these people are successful. They just know how to look you in the eye, they know how to make you feel special in that moment. It’s quite a skill. I’m the complete opposite. I can be quiet and upset people. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know what my energy is. At some point I’ll figure it out and I will discuss it on stage. But I have noticed, you know, I can be quiet and it upsets people.

GM: Were you quiet before you were in comedy? Because I picture you as being the class clown, a cut-up.
OA: I was more obnoxious than anything else. But some things still carry on. I got great grades and it just upset the teachers that they had to give me A’s. To this day I still like going after authority in that sense. I go after MTV on Twitter, I go after them in articles. Letterman would do it. He’d go after the network.

GM: Sure, yeah. And Carson would do it.
OA: Yeah, and I think that it’s all in good fun. I like to poke in that sense, cause a little bit of trouble. I don’t like when everything is going right in life. It makes me very suspicious. All the lights are green going home, I go, “Uh-oh, this is a sign. Something’s coming!” Conflict to me is good. When things are so good I always think it’s not going to last. My life is not meant to be this smooth.

GM: I see you studied philosophy in college. Is that an interest of yours or just something to study in school?
OA: I think I signed up for classes too late so I had to take a philosophy class. The books were cheap. But then I really got into it. I really like examining life and human nature. My dad was a philosophy major at Brown. I sort of got into it by accident but it really was right for me. I like to examine human nature like most comedians or most people that are – I hate to say artists , but expressing themselves. I’m fascinated by what moves people. I’m fascinated as a species we can run into burning buildings and save people and it’s the same species that goes into schools and shoots people.

GM: You’re a thinker.
OA: I am what I am.

GM: I studied philosophy, too. I don’t really know much about it but I love it.
OA: Yeah. I remember Descartes. All these guys. And still the books that I read are very on that level. Examining. Examining. And then you bring it into comedy as much as you can. The psychology of life, the philosophy of life. If I could talk about what I really wanted to talk about, that’s when I know I’ll have arrived, when I can talk about the things that… you know, more metaphysical, which can’t be discussed now. It’s too scary.

GM: On stage or anywhere?
OA: I think any time you talk about mortality, any time you talk about abstract subjects… I have an 8-minute bit right now on time, how abstract time is. And yet, at the same time – it’s hard to say the bit without saying ‘time’ because ‘time’ is the most used noun in the English language – it’s also the only thing we human beings agree on! You go anywhere in the world, you go, ‘What time is it?’ ‘I don’t speak your time. I speak a different time.’ We agree on time and the universal headphone jack. Those are the only two things in the world we agree on! And it goes on and on and on. It’s very George Carlinesque. It uses phrases: Time will tell, time heals all wounds, there’s no time like the present, if you have spare time you have time to kill but if you do kill you’ll do time, it might even be a hard time, a rough time, then you’re away for a while and it’s long time no see. It goes on and on and on like that for six minutes.

GM: So you’re close to talking about metaphysical stuff if you can find a way to make it palatable to the masses.
OA:  Yes, that’s the goal.  That’s a great point you bring up. The goal is to talk about important things or things that are important to you, like the third amendment to the constitution, which was my last special, and make it accessible. That doesn’t mean taking the low road, that doesn’t mean adding swears or making it more about sex. But making it so it touches everybody on a human level. I’m fascinated by things like how is Greenland not a continent? Do they have a horrible continent lobbyist? It’s almost as big as North America! They call it an island. Japan’s an island! So these sorts of things, you know, continental drift, this is what fascinates me. To me, it’s personal. I’m starting to do stuff on Stephen Hawkings and aliens but I do it only in the hour when I can wrap it around the stuff that I know is gonna work with high energy. And then within the hour I’ll sit down on a stool. That’s my only contention with this tour: we’re doing twenty minutes and I go out there and it’s from start to finish it’s one level for the most part. I bring it down a little, sitting on a chair talking for a second, but then I gotta build it back up. I just don’t have the time to play with the nuances, the ebbs and flows, bringing it up and down like a symphony. That’s my only thing about the difficulty of doing twenty minutes. In the hour, I’m going to get into Stephen Hawkings and continents and aliens and stuff like that, that I think is ripe.

GM: There’s that word again: you just don’t have the ‘time’. You know who else is really into metaphysics? Tim Allen.
OA: Oh, really? I wouldn’t know that.

GM: If you ever talk to him…
OA: Yeah, that would be interesting. I just don’t think time is linear… I will say this, and I never complain about it, that I’m so lucky that I love what I do, that I found what I love and I’m doing it. On a day-to-day basis, I feel very fortunate. Do I wish I was doing my own solo tour? Of course.

GM: After you finish here, they’ll be clamoring for you.
OA: Let’s hope!

GM: Tonight you’re playing the Burton Cummings Theatre. Do you know who he is?
OA: No, who is he?

GM: You don’t know Burton Cummings?!
OA: Oh no! I didn’t know I’d have to Google! Hold on. Who is he? A country singer?

GM: He was the lead singer of The Guess Who. You know, American Woman?
OA: Oh, and he has his own theatre?!

GM: They’re Canada’s Beatles!
OA: Wow. That’s interesting. All I know is we don’t have to leave the hotel because there are tunnels that just take us everywhere.

GM: Because it gets so cold.
OA: It’s freezing. It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. I have four different jackets for this trip. Now, are you going to come to the show in Vancouver?

GM: I come every year and this year I cannot.
OA: No! What is your interest in comedy? Because the publicists were so excited that you even wanted to talk to me. Were you a fan of mine? Were you off-put by Comedian prior to this?

GM: I wasn’t off-put. I’m fascinated by all types. I haven’t seen it since it came out in 2001 so this is all sort of hazy memory.
OA: Same. The last time I saw it, I was sitting next to Seinfeld in a movie theatre. So I feel the same way. To me it’s like a whole nother lifetime. It’s a part of my legacy but it’s like talking about high school: I have to think that far back.

GM: People keep bringing it up with you. I guess you’ve got to until you’ve done enough interviews. Like, the next time I speak with you, I won’t talk about it.
OA: Brooke Shields came up to me and said, ‘It’s your Blue Lagoon.’ It’s my legacy. I guess the part that was most interesting was the comedians that turned on me because of it. I think that was unfortunate.

GM: It’s those cliques again. You can’t watch somebody on TV or in a movie or something that’s been edited and make a final judgment on them.
OA: Right. You and I get that. But for some reason other people…

GM: Until it happens to them.
OA: I’m still shocked, when we were in New Brunswick, a guy walked up on the street and said, ‘Orny Adams.’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘Man, I loved you in Comedian!’ I’m shocked that, 1) he recognizes me, 2) knows my name. Usually it’s, ‘Are you the guy from…’ When I was in Maine over the summer with my parents, a guy came up to us and he said, ‘Were you in Comedian?’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ And he said, ‘I thought so.’ And then just walked away. Not ‘I loved you,’ ‘I hated you.’ My dad was standing next to me. He said, ‘That is just so bizarre.’ It’s strange.

GM: Maybe they just rented it. Because surely you’ve aged in the past 12 years.
OA: Yes! Absolutely! I’m hoping someday I’m high enough profile that people will understand more of me in Comedian. There’s a point where I walked out to the car and I said to the driver, ‘I have to open my own door?’ That’s my sense of humour. That’s what you’re seeing in Teen Wolf and they’re utilizing. That’s what I’m getting better at conveying off-stage and on stage. But in Comedian it wasn’t a clear and concise character for people to go, ‘Oh, I got it.’ Like Shandling, you go, ‘I get it.’

GM: That’s right. Perception is a big part of understanding if someone’s funny or not.
OA: You’ll like this story. Three weeks ago I wrote a line in my head. ‘Life is so difficult,’ – because I was reading an obituary – ‘When you die, everybody else you’re survived by. Those people are still surviving life.’ Like that sort of thing. It was very rough. But before I developed it, I sent it out to a few comedy friends to see if it’s been covered. Like, I sent it to the head of Montreal [JFL]: ‘Has anybody done a bit about when Canadians say “sorry” it actually sounds like they’re sorry. Like a ‘sore-y’, like the tone.’ So I like to investigate before because I don’t want to bump topics with anybody else. Tom Ryan, who’s a tremendous comedian, sent me a link and said, ‘Watch this first.’ And it was Alan King doing a bit called ‘Survived by my wife.’ Have you ever seen this bit?

GM: I don’t think so.
OA: I could talk about this bit for two hours. The nuance of this bit, how he delivers it, you can tell this is a bit he’s been doing for 25 years. It was so well performed. It was just such a pleasure. It had me laughing out loud. He would have people read obituaries. It was always like, ‘She was survived by…’ What does it say here? [reads] ‘These women always live longer. What do they hear?’ And the person would read it and go, ‘Survived by his wife.’ And he’d go, ‘Survived by his wife.’ Then the next obituary. What does this one say? ‘Survived…’ And he would interrupt, ‘Survived by his wife.’ And it would build like a symphony: ‘Survived by his wife.’ And by the end he’s like, ‘That bitch lived longer than him.’ It comes down to the last one and it’s building and can’t get any bigger. We’ve seen it. What do you have left? This guy is 102 and she still beats him. And this one guy is going to leave his wife at 90 years old and upon hearing the news, his wife threw herself out of the window, only to land on her husband walking away, who died immediately. He goes, ‘The bitch survived there, too!’ It’s just such a wonderfully presented comedy bit.

GM: And you were asking your friends if this had been done before?
OA: Yes, I always float the topics out there because you’d be surprised…

GM: Could you still do it with your own take on it?
OA: He does it so well, I’m out. I’m out! I’m not gonna touch it because he nailed it. Other topics, yeah, if I feel I can put my unique spin on it, and I feel like I come in and out of topics differently than a lot of people, then I’m fine by it. But when I did my first Letterman, there was a bit I did about farmers getting subsidies to not grow crops. So I go, ‘Well, I’m a farmer. I’m not growing crops in New York City.’ I did the whole thing and it was really a funny bit and I was going to do it on Letterman. Somebody came up to me the week before the show and said Brian Regan does a bit like that. I contact Brian’s manager, they send me a transcript, I call them back and said, ‘Thank you so much. Please tell Brian not only is it the exact same bit,’ – and he had done it before me – ‘but his is so much better than mine.’ And Brian still tells that story to this day, that I’d called and contacted him. I think that’s part of the research. I don’t want to be doing stuff up there that other people are coming up with.

GM: That’s happened to him, too. He told me he did a bit that turned out to be Dennis Wolfberg’s so he immediately stopped doing it.
OA: Yeah, I mean, right now I’ll talk about gluton – or as I call it, ‘glutton’ – and if someone came up and said, ‘You know, there’s other comics that do glutton,’ I go, ‘Well, I would hope so!’ But hopefully mine is different enough. And it’s very personal. I think a good comic can tell you exactly when they came up with a bit: where they were and what inspired it. We all live in the same world, we’re all exposed to the same stuff, we’re all bumping topics. It’s gonna happen. It makes you write harder.

GM: There’s the comedy police you talk about. They’re going to go, ‘Hey, he’s doing this!’
OA: Somebody left up a comment under my ‘Orny Adams Takes the Third’ video on YouTube, which came out in 2010. They said, last year, whenever Louis CK’s last special came out, ‘This guy is a hack. A lot of this stuff Louis talks about on his new special.’ I pre-dated it by three years. Louis admits that he turns material over. And by the way, I don’t think that’s even the case. I saw Louis’ special. People just want to say stuff. They want to start wars on Twitter: ‘Hey Joe Rogan, did you know so-and-so’s doing this?’

GM: I know Louis and Joe have their army out there scouring the internet for joke thieves. Nobody can touch them; they thought of everything first.
OA: Right. Right. Now why aren’t people writing about that? That they’re untouchable. That they would have thought of it first. They’ve been deified. And believe me, they’re both great comedians. We’re all going to think of similar stuff.

GM: They just don’t get there’s all these universal topics that people touch on.
OA: Right. It’s a shame.

GM: Andy Kindler, who’s kind of a comedy cop, is now taking shots at Louis.
OA: That’s a start. And I’m not saying they should be shot; the masses shouldn’t just think that these guys are the only ones coming up with this material. Listen, I’m really happy that Louis CK… His mind works in wonderful ways, so I’m glad he’s out there representing comedy. But, you know, he’s not the only one. I’ve seen him do topics that other people or myself were all talking about. And people should just go, ‘Yeah, but you know what? Orny’s up there doing it but he’s slamming the mic into the ground and shit’s flying all over the place. He’s running all over the place. He’s nuts; he’s crazy.’ So it’s a different perspective. You know, Robert Kelly, who was on the tour early on, did a bit and he walked off stage and I said to him, ‘Here’s my version of that bit.’ And it was completely different. And that’s what’s kinda cool about comedy.

GM: It’s getting different perspectives on the same thing.
OA: Yup. From who we are in essence. A really good comedian, you get their essence. You get who Garry Shandling is, you get who Louis CK is. Because these guys have done a really good job conveying their essence. And hopefully I will get to that point where I can convey my essence and have a bigger audience.

GM: It’s not that you’ll change but more people will get a chance to see you and then understand your essence?
OA: Yeah, I haven’t been exposed at that level as a standup. Even the movie Comedian, not that many people outside of comedy really saw it. And my standup special only aired once or twice. You’d think with the democracy of the web, I could do it myself but it hasn’t happened, for whatever reason.

GM: But you’re making a living.
OA: And I’m not getting bitter or any less enthusiastic about how much I care about standup comedy.

GM: That’s the main thing, the standup. The work.
OA: Absolutely. I’ll be interested to see what you come up with for this article.

GM: Yeah, me, too.
OA: Feel free to keep in touch if you have any other questions or if you’re ever in town and I’m in town, let me know.

GM: Remember me.
OA: Oh, for sure. I do really enjoy… You know, if we had an off-the-record conversation, I would really talk about what goes into creating comedy. I just don’t think regular people care that much. They just wanna know that it’s gonna be funny.

GM: I think you’re probably right. And yet there are some of us that are fascinated by it.
OA: I agree. And that’s what Comedian was made for. And probably wasn’t the way I would have done it but fortunately most people don’t care.

GM: When you finally return to Vancouver, as I know you will, we’ll have that off-the-record conversation.
OA: I’d love to. Any time. Send me an email.

GM: Thank you very much.
OA: Okay. Have a great day.