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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.

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