Sheer desperation motivated Greg Giraldo to jump into comedy.
DREAM GIG: “There were a million hacks in skinny ties and jackets on TV and in the clubs.”
“I was working as a lawyer in New York City and I knew I just couldn’t hold a job and work in an office any more,” he says. “Academically, I’d done well, so I guess it looked like I’d be good at it on paper, but when it came to showing up in the morning and being motivated to work on things I didn’t care about, I sucked. I knew I had to do something creative.”
It was 1992, and “stand-up comedy at the time was hilariously shitty,” he continues. “There were a million hacks in skinny ties and jackets on TV and in the clubs. My friends and I used to watch stand-up for the irony. We would sit there and mock it. And I started doing stand-up because I figured I could suck as bad as they did until I found out what it was I really wanted to do.”
If Giraldo, who performs at the Comedy Connection clubs in Boston and East Providence this weekend, still hasn’t found his dream gig, he isn’t letting on. In fact, Giraldo’s stock in funny has risen dramatically in recent years thanks to his affiliation with the Comedy Central juggernaut — the successful corporate conglomerate that’s a cable TV network, record and DVD label, production company, and book publisher. The Daily Show with John Stewart franchise is Comedy Central’s hottest commodity, but it’s also ignited the careers of Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert, and catapulted Dave Attell, Lewis Black, and Dane Cook into the top echelon of contemporary stand-up.
“There is something paradoxical going on in that it’s much harder to get a break in stand-up today,” Giraldo says by phone from his New York City office. “But if you’re lucky enough to come into the focus of Comedy Central you suddenly have a rabid fan base of white 16- to 26-year-old males.”
Giraldo’s relationship with the cable network started with its stand-up variety programs, where he took his five-minute shots along with dozens of other laugh generators. But his career accelerated when he became a regular on Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn in 2003. For the past two years he’s hosted Comedy Central’s Stand Up Nation with Greg Giraldo at 9 pm on Fridays. It’s a sprawling two-and-a-half-hour compendium of short stand-up clips, interviews, skits, and whatever else pops into the head of Giraldo and his team of writers.
“It’s really a work in progress and very time-consuming. We have to crank out a monologue every week and try to develop some kind of theme to knit everything together. It’s much easier for me to develop material for my live act. There are enough places in New York for me to be able to work things out on stage. I’ll get an idea and get up there and just start babbling, and after a while it’ll take shape.”