1. Who is the funniest stand up comic? What makes them so funny to you?
Brian Regan. He works clean, which is incredibly impressive. As someone who fancies myself a writer, and a serious connoisseur of the English language, I know how tough that is. There are people who don’t like swear words, which I fully get. However, they often believe (incorrectly) that execution of swear words is for the intellectually lazy. There is some truth to that, perhaps. BUT… curse words are integrated into the thought process. You can censor what you say, but you can’t censor what you think. Meaning, if the Pope stubs his royal toe, I bet my life he utters ‘FUCK that hurt’ under his papal breath.
The difference then, and perhaps its the only difference, between the pope and myself is that he stops short of yelling the f word, and I don’t. Also, comedy is an emotional and physical thing. I really good ‘belly’ laugh can incapacitate you. Curse words are also emotional. Because of my love of Podcasts, I listen to comedians chat every single day. I love it. When they talk about their favorite comedians, Brian Regan comes up almost as much as Richard Pryor. Plus, every one of those comedians is amazed he works clean. It is that rare.
I seriously can’t think of a single other notable comedian who works clean. WOW – that was a long and rambling jag on language and cursing. Didn’t even know I had that in me until I read the questions from my editor 5 minutes ago. Back to Brian Regan. Most importantly, he is just incredibly funny. His stuff is observational in a Seinfeld sense. You have lived every story he tells, which is maybe what brings it home so hard for me. I got to see him live just last year and it was a dream come true. For a comedian, it seems dude never travels. I have been listening to him and quoting him for 15 years before I ever got the chance. Here is a link to some of his stuff on youtube. Watch some, I implore you. Here, at least watch this one.
Second favorite comedian is the late great Mitch Hedburg. My love and appreciation for him is so deep, he deserves his own essay. For Mitch, at the very least, watch this bit about the DuFrenes. It is a pretty good primer on his style.
2. What is the funniest thing that has happened to you?
weird question. Can’t think of one right now. I am a funny guy, though, and I live a life open to such experiences and adventures. So, I bet there are at least a dozen great tales. Lemme think on that and hopefully come back to it.
OOOHHH – I thought of one. Even better, I already wrote it up about ten years ago. It’s called ‘the MajorDomos story‘. It’s 100% true.
3. Deep down inside we all think we are hilarious. What is the funniest thing you have said or done?
you know, I am glad you brought that up. Also, that is an insightful comment, and it’s 100% true. It’s like driving. Everyone considers themselves above average as a driver. But, I have been thinking about this over the last several months. It is a complaint, and it is going to sound super self-indulgent and narcissistic. Well, because it is. Here is the thing – I am a very funny guy. Seriously, I am funny. I work hard to make people laugh, and I excel at it. It is a natural gift I got from my father. If I remember by only one thing, I would be ok with it being that I was funny. That isn’t my complaint, though. This is; I am surrounded by people who aren’t nearly as funny. BUT, they want to be funny. They think they are funny. Because I am funny and likeable, people go out of their way to be funny with me. But… they aren’t funny.
An example is pranks. I hate pranks, for the most part. People who aren’t funny think pranks are equal to funny. So, someone will hide my keys or my phone. That isn’t funny. not even a tiny bit. It is an annoying dick move, and an unconcious power play. I would never touch your keys or your phone. Ever. That isn’t funny.
So, you can imagine if you are Bob Dylan, everyone wants to show you a song they wrote. If you are Picasso, everyone wants to show you their sketch. Guess what, they are Picasso and you aren’t. So, leave him alone and find something you are good at. There must be something. Did I just compare myself to Dylan and Picasso? Yes. Yes I did. That doesn’t mean I am to them what funny is. I am not. I am simply funnier than you.
Here is a prank I pulled, though, and I think it was funny. You may judge for yourself. I work with this tight ass guy. He is a great guy, but just is a tight ass. Let’s call him ‘Scott’, since that is his name. On April Fools Day, I put an ad on Craiglist. It read “my son just got suspended from school today for a week for bad grades. He thinks his week off will be a vacation to play his X Box. To teach him a lesson, I am selling his X Box and all of his games for $50 cash. Call me” – and I put Scott and gave out his celll phone number. About 30 minutes later, he started getting calls. not just for his X Box (which he didn’t own, remember he is a tight ass), but some people would call and just say “good for you, man!” and hang up.
For the first hour or so, I didn’t tell him about the ad. I waited until he came to me to tell me his bizarre ass day. Then, I told him right away. He loved it. See, that to me is a funny prank. Wrapping someone’s car in tin foil isn’t a great or funny prank. It’s really more selfish. Sorry, i fully realize how boorish my argument is. It’s a stupid humble brag. It is just an observation that because of my great sense of humor, people use me as a barometer of their own talents. HEY – you asked the question. I am just answering honestly and thoughtfully. Just re-read this section and it still comes off flat, and like I am an asshole who corners you at parties to tell you how interesting I am. Oh well, it’s too late. I will leave it in and trust that you will still love me. I won’t corner you at a party. You came here, to me.
4. We also surround ourselves with funny .. What is the funniest thing a friend has done?
oh man, why are these so tough for me? I have some terrifically funny friends. There must be hundreds of stories here, but I truly can’t think of one on the spot. Here are a couple that come to mind. Maybe not the best, but hey… I am just trying to go to bed here. Years ago, I worked with a guy we’ll call ‘Ted’. I am calling him ‘Ted’ mostly because that was his name. We had all gotten laid off by our cell phone company. We were in customer service, and our jobs got outsourced. We were given a few months warning, though, which was nice. On our last day, it was still business as usual. We were to keep working, and pick up our check on the way out. Ted and I were both supervisors, and we worked next to each other. Being supervisors, we got to talk to the angry people on the phone. Well, this day, Ted lived the dream. He got to tell a customer the truth.
The escalation came to ‘Ted’, and we could tell by eavesdropping that the customer was being a dick. Ted tried diplomacy, but that doesn’t always work. So, the next thing we heard was “you know what, buddy? I just got laid off. That means I don’t have to take your shit anymore. So, since this is my last day, why don’t you kiss my ass” and hang up on the customer. It was that good, and we all applauded. it was that moment that every single customer service worker dreams of… and never gets. I miss Ted, and believe it or not we were just talking about him today at work. I haven’t seen Ted since that day in 2001. He was a stand up dude, and WAY funnier than me.
This other story I wasn’t even there for. I heard it second hand, from the guy it happened to, and the buddy who witnessed it. I got a buddy we’ll call ‘Brian’ who got arrested at a rock concert at the Pepsi center for being a drunk idiot. I asked him what happened and he said “nothing! All i did was try and get closer seats than we were assigned and they freaked out and kicked me out. I went back to my seat like they asked me to, and next think you know – I am being arrested.” Geesh, sounds like an over-reaction. Cops suck!
A month later, I heard the story from ‘Brad’, who was there. Turns out ‘Brian’ didn’t tell me the whole story. Maybe he didn’t remember it. Here is what happened. He did try and sneak up to better seats. He did get caught and sent back. He then apparently went around the venue to try and sneak up front again. It kinda worked, until the security lady saw him from afar. So, what did ‘Brian’ do? You just duck and discreetly try and disappear into the crowd. What Brian did, though, was give the lady the finger, and then not move at all. It gets better. She sends over security and he gets bounced back to his seat again. While he was sitting at his seat, they sent over a couple of cops. He started mocking them, to their face. You know how cops keep their radios velcro’d up to their shoulder.
Well, the cop is telling Brian to keep in his seat. Before he leaves, they radio to dispatch where they are and what is happening. No biggie, just a standard check in. They are doing that thing where they leave the radio attached to their shoulder and reach up and squeeze the button and tilt their head down to talk into it. Well, as they did this, Brian apparently did the exact same gesture, mocking them. While doing this, he said something to the effect of “attention… ah… dispatch… ah… yeah I got a 10-15 up here trying to look all tough… yeah… ok… check… over”. That, you see, is when the cops arrested him. Quite a different story than the one he told us all.
I can tell that story because I love the guy. He is a very close friend. Don’t worry, I’ll send him the link to this, and I am sure he will be honored. In fact, maybe I can coax him to write a rebuttal under the comments. I will shoot for that, it will be gold, I assure you!
Oh… and there was this incident. Pretty great. In fact, it is the one year anniversary of the ‘incident’.
5. What is the funniest television or movie moment that has struck your funny bone.
this scene from ‘So I Married and Axe Murderer’. That, and pretty much every single line from ‘A Fish Called Wanda’.