WHEN YOU LISTEN BACK TO EARLY TAPES OF YOURSELF, DO YOU DETECT A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR ABILITY TO DO THAT THEN VERSUS NOW? I have old tapes, and I’ve never listened to them. The times I’ve tried it is so humiliating that I want to crawl under the couch.
WHY? I’m very hard on myself, and I feel like what I did last week was bad. I want to always get rid of the things I’m bad at, and I want to get better at the things that I think I have some potential in.
To go back that far would be admitting just how bad I used to be. Even when I see a comic that’s doing things – when you do comedy, you can see what the comic is trying to do – and when I see a comic doing stuff that I know I used to do, like be misogynistic or have a certain swagger that you can’t really back up, or anything short of having true confidence, it makes me uncomfortable, because it reminds me of how much time I wasted by masking what I really felt.
IS THERE A BUBBLE EXISTENCE IN LOS ANGELES THAT MAKES IT HARDER TO BE FUNNY? I hate living here. I'd much rather be on the East Coast. You can do better comedy there. You're surrounded by better comedians. The people you hang out with are not all in the business. When you're here, you're much more aware of your age. Even though, as a comedian, it doesn't matter how old you are. It helps you how old you are. Anything that goes wrong is fuel for comedy. You go bald, you get fat, you get old, you get divorced . . . it makes it better and better. That's why I think LA is so anti-comedy, in a creative way, because you don't let anything go wrong. When people say, "How are you?", you have to say, "Things are going great." You get Botox, and you do everything so you don't show a flaw. And stand-up is about taking the flaw and holding it up for everyone to see.
HOW DO YOU STAY WILLING TO LET THINGS GO WRONG AFTER SO MANY YEARS OF DOING COMEDY? I never know what I'm going to say as I walk up to the microphone. I try to be in the moment. I try to go deeper into myself. I discover things on stage that I don't discover off stage about me. I say things out loud that I have been ashamed to even think. I like to go out there and shake it up. I want to basically go, "You don't fucking know me."
Part of me has always resisted being labeled as anything. I've never identified myself. I don't drink, I don't get high, I don't cheat on my wife, I'm a dad. But I'm also a sick fuck. I've had a crazy life, but I don't want to be known as that arty guy or whatever. I just want to be known for what I've done on stage that night.