You don’t get the blue bloods. You don’t even get college students coming to shows. It’s the people from South Boston. The Massholes from the suburbs. Those are the people I love. They’re real people. They have real life experience. They work. College kids don’t mean anything, in terms of a comedy audience. They don’t have a point of view. To be an audience member, you also need life experience. I much prefer a crowd of angry union guys from Dorchester, the Globies.
WHEN YOU WERE DOING COMEDY IN BOSTON AND KNOWING THAT YOU MIGHT FACE AN AUDIENCE THAT COULD BE UNPLEASANT AND/OR DRUNK, WAS IT DIFFICULT TO TAME THEM? You don't tame them. You confront them. I have the same energy in me, which is why I like it. I understand why some comics don't like it, because they've got an act, and they've got a certain vibe, and that's what they like to do on stage. I like to get into a fistfight on stage. I like the audience to challenge me, and if by tame them you mean I can outhate them, that's what I do. I don't back down. I steamroll them. If I'm getting resistance, I just basically take it on.
IS THAT A THING YOU GROW INTO? IS IT INSTINCT? Instinct. Which is why I always connected to doing comedy in Boston. And, certain cities I’ve gone to, there’s not enough of that. You go to the Midwest, and you see people that are living lives of quiet desperation, and they expect you to come out and just be background music while they eat chicken wings and drink buckets full of beer. It’s unappealing to me, because that’s where they want an act. They want, “You know you’re a redneck when…” with a list, and then you pull a guitar out. And, I like there to be some anger coming from the crowd.
WILL YOU RESIST SHOWS THAT ARE GOING TOO WELL? WILL YOU TRY TO FORCE A CONFRONTATION? It’s almost like sailing, which I haven’t done many times, but the concept is that if there’s no wind, you’re not going anywhere. You have to position the sail so you’re getting maximum confrontation with the wind. For me, to come on stage, if everything is killing out of the gate, I know I can’t sustain that. I can’t possibly kill at level ten. If I come out and kill at level ten, that’s great, but after less than five minutes of that, you have to let the sail out, or you’re going to tip over. You’re not going to make it all the way. It’s finding that right amount of resistance and keeping it there. You want to build it at the end. You want to come out of the gate strong, so you’ve got them. You want to try new stuff and some of it’s going to bomb, and then you want to kill again. But, headlining is different than doing a fifteen-minute set in an alternative room, because you’ve got to take people on a journey when you headline. You have to take them through a narrative. “Here’s me, laid out. Here’s my relationship to you, laid out.” Real time, improvisational. I never know what my set’s going to be.