Misery Loves Comedy (2015) Movie Script

Am I gonna get fed?
There's like a table,
I'm leaning on it,
I feel like I'm alone
in an airport.
What's the second question?
God, that's a great question.
Let me see that.
I'm curious if you're just
making this up at this point.
I will never be seen
on camera nor my voice heard.
It's one of those things where
you kind of have to reiterate
the question and the answer.
Hey, then you have a shot at a hit.
Do you think emotionally
questionable people
are drawn to stand-up
slash performing?
It was a way for me to deal
with my chronic shyness
and introversion.
I'm crazy already, so don't try
and make me the responsible one.
Or are they done in by the life
that opens up to them?
I don't know if all comics
go through this, where you go,
"I'm never gonna be funny again.
I don't know how
I was able to go this far."
But I always assert that the
funniest people aren't comedians,
just like the best-looking girls
aren't models or whatever.
You'll meet people
that are shoe store salesmen
that'll fucking knock you over.
And then it's just my job
to sit there and yell at drunks.
And that's kind of the difference
between comedy and theater.
But I can do that.
I'm from a large family.
It's okay if I use all that, right?
Use whatever you want.
You know, here's the thing, that
you can use whatever you want
because what's gonna happen?
You're gonna get people...
They're gonna not call me?
They're already
not calling me, so...
so it doesn't matter what I say.
The Mexicans, the Jews,
the Blacks, the Irish.
Not a lot of funny Germans.
It'd be much better if you were mediocre,
'cause if you were mediocre,
then you would actually have
to get good at something else,
and you know, comedy would be just
something you do by the water cooler.
But if you're truly
brilliant at being funny,
then, yeah, you can guarantee
that your marriages are not gonna work
and your kids will turn out fucked up.
Well, this is a deep question.
What's the name of this thing?
"Misery Loves Comedy."
And do you think that's true?
That's the last question, so wait.
My dad was always
the funny guy of the family.
My dad made me laugh
a whole lot.
My dad.
My dad.
My father.
My father was probably
the first guy that I said,
"Oh, man, he's funny."
It wasn't that
his jokes were great,
but I could see the silliness
and I saw that, uh, how much fun
he was having
making other people laugh.
And he always had a ton of,
like, basic, like,
down the middle street jokes
and I would see him, like, kill.
- He loved... Can I swear?
- Please, yes.
He also loved, like,
shit jokes and fart jokes,
so I still don't like 'em,
'cause that's my rebellion.
He told me, he said,
"If you swallow gum,
your shit comes out
like a yo-yo."
And I didn't find out until
years later that he was lying.
He would just make up these
crazy stories about my life.
He said...
there's this Pakistani dish
called biryani
that's my favorite...
and he said, "Oh, it's 'cause
when you were a little baby,
we dropped you in
a pot of it and we forgot."
And I didn't know until
I was 13 that that was a lie,
'cause it was just
part of my reality.
I was like, "Oh, yeah,
that's what happened to me."
And he was like, "No, I was just
trying to impress your mom."
Like, he was flirting
with my mom. I'm like...
As he was five-years-old,
he's flirting with your mom.
Yeah, yeah.
I was like, "I think
it's in the bag, I'm five.
I think you got this one."
Um, so, yeah, my dad
was always very funny.
My dad and I don't really
get along that well.
He's actually stepdad,
and was not supportive
at all of the career.
In fact, at one point,
I played ukulele in my act
and did very well, got on television
doing it, the whole thing,
but I remember the first time
I played the ukulele for him,
he just looked at me
and was like,
"What the hell do you think
you're gonna do with that?"
But I did have, like,
so many teachers, especially...
There was a teacher
named Mr. Beasley,
psychology teacher,
and he was just, like,
"Wayne, you really
got something.
"Like, you're funny in class,
you're not disruptive, you're smart.
Like, you should try this.
You should definitely try this."
I was like, "Oh."
So she was always like, "Yeah,
this is never gonna happen.
You're insane. I don't know what you're
doing. Nobody knows what you're doing."
My father was pretty low-key,
but my father was like,
"You happy? Good."
My father was a lot
fucking smarter about it.
My dad was funny, but not in
the way he thought he was funny,
so he would try to tell a joke,
or tell a joke that
he thought was funny
and then he would laugh very
loudly at the end of the joke
and everyone around
the table would kind of...
You'd hear the "clink,
clink, clink" of the cutlery
as the joke didn't land.
And then you'd think,
"Please, I don't want
to catch anyone's eye,
'cause if I do,
I'm just gonna go."
She came to the show
two hours early
and stood in the lobby
and introduced herself
to every person who came in.
"Hi, I'm Blanche Lewis,
I'm his mother.
Hi. You're coming
to see my son."
So everyone knew her
and she sat right in
the middle of the theater.
So I say, "So my father,
you know, he had six penises..."
I'm just saying something dumb,
and she would literally,
I don't want to get out of shot,
she'd stand up and go...
"Oh, Bill never had six penises.
How dare you?!"
It was absolutely
the oddest show,
'cause they all went, "Boo!
You're putting your dad down."
No, it was a joke
before she showed up.
HBO used to do
a thing in Bryant Park,
where you'd face the library
and they would
have comics on stage,
live, and no censorship
during afternoons in the summer.
My mother and father
happened to be in for that
and the place is packed
and it's spectacular to be able
to yell the word "fuck"
and throw it out
and have it hit the library
and bounce back at you is...
It's like heaven.
And the crowd was great.
I finished up
and my mother goes,
"Oh, my God,
they really do like you."
There's always been a judgment.
"That was funny."
Almost like a comic, like,
"I know, but you
should have laughed."
"Oh, I was thinking about it,
if there was any ways
to improve it."
I just did Letterman last week.
He found...
"I found no room
for improvement."
That's always
the first thing out of...
you can tell David Letterman,
"if you have a chance, I don't
know if he's talkative,
"that that set is too busy.
"I mean, why are you standing
in front of New York City?
"What... what is that?
There should be a nice curtain
that goes with your outfit."
Well, you let me
get right on that.
By the way, he's not wrong.
He's not wrong.
That's the frustrating part.
He's not wrong.
If you change your mind, you can
always go back to Conan, right?
I mean, that was
literally, within...
that was within the 10 seconds
of... of his
first reaction was...
"When the world
beats you to shit,
you can come back with your tail
between your legs, can't you?"
And I said,
"Yeah, but I'm not really...
that's not really kinda what
I'm focused on right now, Dad."
Now, one could make the case
that he was right.
I came crawling back
after being chewed up
and spit out
by this goddamn town.
But I would just like you for
once to go, "That was great,"
but there's always a criticism.
"Okay, so we're not allowed...
So, should I say something nice
first and then I can say..."
That'd be nice.
That's a start.
Let's start there, but then it
comes out as Irish sarcastic.
"Well, your jeans fit great."
Acceptance is...
has al...
been a big part of... of
dealing with who he was
and realizing very early in life
that I was far from perfect
made it a little bit easier,
but not much, and there's
a whole 'nother layer to it.
It's like, when you're...
when you're a junior,
you're really just
a statue built to honor
that which walked
before you, right?
Like, your name is his.
You're... you're going
to do what he was going to do
and there's not a discussion.
And as my grandfather said
before he passed away,
"You're gonna fix
what he fucked up."
And so whether that's
rightful pressure or not,
that's... that's pressure, so...
How old are
you when he says that?
I was 15 years old. 15.
He told me he was proud of me...
He was sick and he was
in hospice care at that point
and he said, uh, he said,
"Freddie, did you
clean your room today?"
I said, "Yeah, Papa,
I cleaned my room."
He said, "I'm very,
very proud of you."
And you're 15, you don't realize
he's saying it for everything,
but he's too much of a man
to say it, right?
I go, "Yeah,
yeah, no problem."
And he goes, "You know, your
father really fucked things up."
He goes,
"And it's your job to fix it."
Four hours later, he was dead.
I literally was just like...
"Um, I gotta get into acting."
Literally, I saw Neil
Patrick Harris that summer
getting people excited
for acting in my high school
and I was like,
"I gotta do this shit."
98% of kids suffer
from "Hey, look at me,"
desperate for attention.
Is there a way to explain
why any of us actually chooses
"Hey, look at me" as a career?
"Oh, I'm gonna devote
the rest of my life
to being the center
of attention."
Those early teens where you
get to sort of hang out
with your father and his
friends, you know, occasionally,
and just sort of getting
a sense of their...
of their kind of adult humor
and just seeing
little glimpses of it.
They were still
moderating it for the kids,
but you could see
between the cracks,
there was something
a little bit more edgy there
and a little bit naughtier
and the bad language
was kept to a minimum,
but, you know,
you could see it was brewing
and the off-color subjects
were in the air.
I remember that being
very tantalizing, you know?
Kind of wanting
to hang with them.
I would sit in the pub garden,
'cause I wasn't allowed in the pub,
but sitting in the pub garden with them
and, you know, eating a bag of crisps
and kind of excited,
and so that excitement of when
do I get to be part of that?
And it was this dynamic of
the laughter, you'd hear, like...
As a kid,
I'm just hearing, like...
And you'd hear
this rumbling laughter
and I was completely
taken by it, fascinated,
and it was some of these
relatives from the past
that really got me, like,
"Okay, this is something.
Something going on here."
- And it was alcohol.
- Uh-huh.
That's what I realized.
It was the booze.
I was sitting around the table,
and from a very, very young age,
I always dominated
the conversation.
It was the one place that,
like, I fucking hung out in
I could hung out forever
because people were laughing.
And that was, like,
every Sunday or every Friday
or every time we would have,
like, a big meal
where everybody was there,
for some reason,
they would always be laughing at me
and I would be telling stories about...
Sometimes it was like, you know,
terrible things, you know, like,
I got beat up a lot when I was a kid
and, like, my sister thought
it was hilarious, you know?
I remember one time
and she was like, "Oh, my God,
how many times did Dominic
Dipento kick your ass this week?"
And I'd be like,
"It's not funny, all right?"
And I'd start to cry
and then I'd turn into a joke,
and then, like, it would turn
into, like, a bit or something.
I don't remember a lot...
making the family laugh.
More that I would laugh a lot
at the family, you know?
I would laugh a lot
at my uncle's jokes
and comedy shows
and things like that.
And it was the feeling of that
- that made me interested in comedy, I think.
- Right.
It was quite a while before you consciously
made the decision to try to make...
To make a joke, yes.
How much later? How old...
My first joke was...
I was a late joker.
My first joke was at 21.
No, no, no, no.
That was great.
I just like telling stories.
I would have my family sit
around and I would be like,
"Guys, I have this story,
you have to hear it."
And they'd be like...
I would just make up a story
as I went along,
a horrible story,
just about, like, fake...
Animals, I'd be like...
"So this rabbit
just was in the forest."
And they were just like,
"We know you're making this up
as you go along
and it's not good."
And... but... and my dad would
film it and then we'd watch it
and I'd be like, "Oh, my God,
this girl is gonna make it."
So it was definitely
for me, personally,
'cause I really don't know
about kids on purpose,
but for me personally, I...
My narcissism
and thinking that I
deserved attention
was... was reinforced
by my parents.
Every kid makes up
knock-knock jokes,
but it takes kids
a long time to understand it.
- They'll still try it.
- Right.
They'll make up their own rules,
and they're funny
because they've got
the idea wrong.
You know, I actually
was a very, very shy kid.
I don't think I was funny
until after... until I left home.
And so that's why my parents
are still surprised.
They're like, "What is...
what is happening?
Why... Why are you
on Letterman?"
There's something about
family, that connection,
and then to have
that secret kind of
sense of humor together,
where the same goofy shit
makes you laugh.
Like, everyone loves
my dad's political stuff
and his serious
sledgehammer stuff,
I love his goofy shit.
I love the little moments
where he's just got a phrase
in between even two bits
and he'll just
say a little something
about Uncle Fred
or something or Steve or...
just a little something,
and that...
that's like the humor we shared,
was that little stuff.
And I do have a memory of,
I guess it was,
like, junior high,
I think we were at Gelson's,
first when Gelson's first came out,
and we decided to do...
It just came up.
A whole produce section
in gibberish.
We had an argument over
the tomatoes in gibberish.
We ended up singing some sort of
gibberish folk song together
and just improvised
and played and for me,
that's, like, one of my most
joyful moments with him.
It's the fun part
about being a dad,
because there's nothing funnier
than a little kid
really hitting it right.
And so my son, I remember is he
would try to do a joke in the room,
when he was like five,
he'd go...
he'd try to do a joke, he'd look at
me at go, "It didn't land, did it?"
And I'm like,
"No, it didn't land.
It didn't land."
Take your desk, take your chair,
sit in the hallway.
And I'd sit in the hallway
of an elementary school
and people, you know,
teachers would walk by
and they'd go,
"Why are you out here?"
And I'd go,
"'Cause I killed in there."
If you were making
a movie about somebody
who became
a stand-up comedian
and you put this into it,
people would go,
"It's a little on the nose."
The only way I could get
attention as the fifth of six
was to do my bits
and, literally, my dad
would have his friends over
and I would get to get
out of bed and come down...
"Do Nixon!"
And I would do it and I was
eight, seven, eight years old.
I mean, there's an old picture of me,
you know, wearing Groucho glasses
and, you know,
holding a bottle of booze
and, you know, they used to have
a little bar area in their den
and I'd go back there,
I'd try to make...
What he used to tell me
to do is like, the...
You know, because he sold,
you know, appliances,
you know, he was always
on the cutting edge of things
and you know, I think
he was one of the first guys
to have his television
in a wall,
so the TV in the den
was in the wall
and the closet was behind it
so the back of the TV was there
and I would go in the closet
and I would stand behind the TV,
you know, and my grandfather would go,
"You're on the television!
I see you on the television!"
He was a very funny fellow.
There was a moment when I was
little in elementary school
when I realized,
I'm not good at sports
and this is a daily humiliation.
They would pick sides,
I'd get picked last,
after the girls,
after disabled kids.
And it happened every day,
twice a day,
in gym class and at lunch.
And I just remember
putting rocks up my nose
and pretending
I was a slot machine
and having people,
like, pull my arm down
and then opening my nostrils
so rocks fell out.
That was... I don't think
that made me any cooler,
but at the time,
it seemed like a good strategy
to distract from the fact
that I was not
a good soccer goalie.
And then I started doing
impressions of people,
you know, around the same time,
like, junior high.
And that's the first time
I ever thought of myself
being funny that way.
Probably around when I was 15,
that's when I realized,
like, this is... I'm good at this,
I can do this.
I just annoyed people
endlessly from then on.
It was just way too much fun
and I couldn't understand
why people would be upset.
Like, I would, you know,
I was pretty relentless.
I could even just pick one person
out from the crowd of kids
and I would try to crack that person
and make them laugh, you know?
I knew if I could make
this kid Damien laugh
that everyone would be like,
"Oh, yeah, that... he killed."
But I thought I was a nice kid.
In my heart, I looked at myself
as a nice, sweet kid.
So when a guy would frown
or, you know, even seemed sad,
I'm like,
"What's wrong with you, man?
This is funny. You're a 12-year-old
guy and you have breasts.
I mean, come on, why isn't...
what's not funny about that?"
And you know once you kill,
you want to, like, leave the room.
You know, you have a great joke,
you're like, "Oh, that was great.
I gotta get out of here now."
It's, like, 'cause that was so funny.
You were aware of you need
to exit after the laugh?
Get out, 'cause that's... Yeah,
'cause if you stay too long, it's like,
"You want me to do
that bit again?"
I don't remember how
I found this out,
but I could make a sound
that was essentially
a ventriloquism sound
that the teacher thought
was coming from another place.
Like another student?
Or just another place
in the room?
Another student
or another... yeah.
And I didn't...
I don't know, to this day,
I know conceptually
what ventriloquism is,
but at the time,
I just came upon this.
And I could make this sound...
I'll make the sound,
it might be...
just warning the sound people,
um, which was,
if I can still do this...
Ahem, I don't do this anymore,
I should tell you, because...
- So...
- What the hell?
The teacher would do that
and the teacher would
throw a kid out, not me.
It wasn't really
even for attention,
because I wasn't
getting attention,
it was more for,
I guess I was...
couldn't come to grips
with the idea that they were
trying to teach something.
I would go to where they were
with an enormous tape recorder
from the AV squad
and I would lie and say
it was a real radio station.
And when I got there, a child,
you know, had just shown up
and they would
realize they got duped,
but they would talk to me anyway
'cause they were really nice.
And I would just
say to Seinfeld,
"How do you write a joke?"
And I would force him
to walk me through it.
Or Harold Ramis...
"How do you write a movie?"
And those interviews
changed my life
because they really told me.
It was my college, I had my college
in junior year of high school.
I was just so obsessed.
So I thought,
"I'm gonna try to interview
every original writer
from 'Saturday Night Live.'"
So I interviewed Al Franken
and Tom Davis and...
You can't just call
these people up.
Well, what would happen
is someone would be nice,
like, Alan Zweibel.
I'd interview him and then he
would take out the phone book
and say, "I'm gonna
hook you up with this person."
And he would start
giving me all the phone numbers
and I was obsessive.
I was always trying
to get Andy Kaufman,
but I couldn't get him
because at the time,
he was down South wrestling,
and I would call his management
office and they would say,
"We don't even know where he is.
He's off the...
he's off the grid."
He was off the grid
before there was a grid.
And then I was watching Richard
Pryor with my parents on HBO,
it was "Live in Concert"
from Long Beach.
And that was when I knew, like,
"Oh, that's what you do
with being funny."
And I remember being amazed
that my parents and I
were enjoying
the same thing so much.
That's the first time I can remember us...
me saying, "That's what I want to do,"
as far as it related
to my family.
I mean, as far as
my own quirky weird shit,
I mean, I've... I've been
a little pervert my whole life.
I've had that whole weird
addictive personality thing
since very,
very early childhood.
And being funny
was just kinda...
It was also a way to balance out
people picking on you.
Nobody fucked with you
if you were funny
because they were scared
you'd mock them.
It's the one thing I could do to a
football player that he couldn't do to me.
I started doing drugs
when I was 15.
I started doing drugs heavily.
So I went to rehab
when I was 16.
And I got out of rehab
and, like, all my friends
that I hung out
with just ignored me.
They never called me anymore.
I lost my entire friend base.
So my grades were so bad
that I took theater
to get an easy A.
I'm like, it's the easiest
A I can take.
So I do that.
And I do a monologue
that had...
that was comedic.
We would put on plays
for the entire school
and, uh, it was like,
super Def Jammy,
so, like, people would,
like, boo and throw stuff.
And we did this play
that we had written
and I was one of the leads
and I came out and, uh,
just completely had the entire
theater just destroyed, rolling.
Like, just murdered
with this character,
and, like, to the point...
I mean, people, like, lost it.
And my teacher was just like...
I walked offstage
and she was like,
"There's way more here
than you're seeing."
She's like,
"You gotta, like..."
So I joined an improv group
and just started, like,
getting into comedy.
But it kind of, like, comedy took
over for what the drugs did for me.
I just became...
was so obsessed with drugs
and then that was gone
and so I just completely...
completely threw
myself into comedy.
You're controlling
this whole room.
You're giving them...
you're like a drug dealer.
You're giving them this drug that's
making them feel really good all at once.
From the time I was a kid and I got
addicted to people looking at me,
it's like, the reason
I want to do that for work
is because you get
addicted to that feeling.
You get addicted
to that immediate high.
I mean, that's why people become
addicted to sex or drugs or alcohol,
because it gives you what you
want or what you think you want.
Um, and with this,
it's a healthy way
to get love or whatever
it is that we call it.
But it's a constant...
it's like an adrenaline.
You know, there's nothing like
getting a laugh from people.
It's a really weird,
addictive high,
whether it's on a stage
or just with a...
It's a weird power thing,
there's no other way
for me to achieve that.
There's no other way
for me to feel that
and nothing else
can compare to that,
so what kind of job
would I do...
I would go to work all day
and be miserable,
'cause no job is gonna
compare to that feeling.
So I think that was why I had
to keep doing it because this...
I'm always chasing that feeling.
How did that feel?
Oh, it... I'm sorry.
When you finally had...
Crack cocaine.
Yeah. Rock... crack... rock
cocaine... crack cocaine.
Big rock cocaine.
Because, um, when you're alone
and you're solo up there
and you can modulate them
and you get the laughs
and you can build on it and you can
go back and forth and you can...
the power of, like, calling back
something and having them...
It's like you're
the one-man show
and the adrenaline and blood
shoots through your head
in a way that I think is
identical to...
- to crystal meth.
- Yeah.
I would do gigs,
I would do a shot
at 12:30 and at 4:00
in the morning,
I still can't figure out
why I'm not asleep,
because it had just shot,
you know, the adrenaline
shoots through you.
I feel like comedy
is a drug in a weird way
and I don't know what
it's a gateway to,
but, doing more drugs?
Hour-long specials?
Hour-long drugs?
What does it lead to?
A sitcom of...
And you want a nightly drug.
A nightly thing?
I mean, it is, it really is.
And it's a buzz and you go,
"I gotta get that again."
I mean, you go to another
club the same night.
'- Cause you go, "I did this club already.
-" Yeah.
I did all these drugs here.
That's awesome.
And now let's go to another place where
there's more drugs. That's old porn.
That's old porn,
yeah, that's old porn.
I wanna go to a place...
I need some fresh.
It is a drug, you know?
And the closest thing...
When you have a... when you
have a moment of... of either
hilarity or vulnerability
on stage
or something that...
where you...
It's the closest thing
I've ever come to,
even in acting class,
of spirituality
where you kind of,
like, anything...
and I hate that
I'm even saying that word,
but like,
of any kind of, like...
But it's that powerful.
It is that powerful.
It's the closest thing I've had to,
you know, like, people speaking in tongues
or whatever and getting...
having an enlightened feeling.
Uh, when you have a moment on
stage or in film where you're...
But especially on stage,
where you're in front of
a live audience, where you're...
It's only happening
in that moment.
Yeah, yeah, and it's like,
bang, and it's your...
It's a feeling of enlightenment.
A feeling of freedom,
liberty, yeah.
It took a big chunk of time
for me to discover it,
to discover that silence
is the root of all comedy.
That's where it lays.
Um, because, uh,
all silence did
was panic me, so I...
If there was silence,
it meant they weren't laughing
or they were contemplating
how to kill me.
I don't think
there's any bigger thrill
in comedy
than when knowing
a big laugh's coming up
and they don't know.
When you've got
that little secret
where you're like, "In a second,
you're gonna be laughing."
And maybe they're
uncomfortable, or maybe...
I have... I have
a routine where, uh,
I took a friend of mine with
muscular dystrophy to a brothel
and there's
this moment just before
the woman sucks
the disabled guy off,
on stage, where they're
all going, "This is horrible,"
and I have a punchline that's
gonna zing, and that for me...
Silence is...
sometimes when you watch...
Do you ever watch, like, movies being
made and you can tell the editing?
When you can tell
jokes where you go,
"That joke worked,
but you cut it off too quick."
And someone who was editing it went,
"Well, that joke's over," boom.
You can gauge what that...
you know when the laughter
is gonna come.
You get that response built-in so that
when you're in the vacuum of an audience,
you know... you understand timing,
you understand the fundamentals.
Comedians, you know,
you have certain laugh ears, you can hear.
That's where you're
listening to the audience
and that's where some,
you know, new comedians,
you know, they bomb
and they come off stage
and they're like, "That was pretty good."
And you're like, "You're..."
You know, they have
no laugh ears, right?
I... I just have
the approach of
never give them a second.
Never give them a second to...
It's like someone's off balance.
That's the best time
to hit someone, right?
They're like,
that's kind of... Oh!
We all have friends where you
sit there and you talk to them
and you know they're just thinking
of what they're gonna say.
They're not even listening.
That's what comedians do.
You know, you walk off stage
and you're at the bar
and you're not magic anymore.
And then it's almost like when I would
walk off, like, the spell is broken
and then I realize I'm a fucking
zilch and then they realize it.
They like, "Oh, God,
we allowed him to control us?"
We got involved
in a dangerous situation,
you know, doing drugs and then
being... just constantly working
and not dealing with it.
And the one thing
about Mitch that's weird is,
um, a lot of people view comics
as, especially someone that,
you know, dies tragedy, like...
tragically, like Mitch did,
and, um, you know, drugs, it
comes with all these thoughts,
and a lot of people think
it's someone...
Something about Mitch is he didn't
really have that kind of negative side.
In a fucked up way,
it was almost was his downfall.
Like, I would say, "Mitch,
we can't do this anymore."
Like, and he... like, Mitch wasn't stupid,
it wasn't fun anymore.
Doing... doing
an opiate isn't fun
- after it isn't fun anymore.
- Right.
Who's the pumpkin chick?
Whichever one... whichever one
that turned into a pumpkin,
like, that's what it's like.
I'm a fucking zilch again, ugh.
I would come off stage
in Hartford, Connecticut,
or whatever shithole
I had done, you know,
and I was just drinking my water and
I'm still the same frightened idiot.
And I'm like, "I have to
go back on to achieve that."
Definitely a certain point
in my life where I was...
I was... I was
at ease most on stage
in front of strangers
as opposed to, uh,
being with anyone I knew,
I would just...
Not that I was antisocial,
I don't know, but I was just...
I looked forward
to getting on stage.
I was like, "That's where...
that's where I really can be loose
and have fun and, you know,
I just love doing that."
I mean, now I have a talk show
where I just talk to strangers
and people I haven't met.
A healthy person probably
looks around and says,
"It's a wonderful world
full of wonderful things."
And a non-healthy person says,
"I want people to think
I'm one of the wonderful things.
"I want people to be glad
that I live on Earth.
I need to hear it."
Rather than just think,
"Oh, isn't it wonderful
to have people like
that who exist to entertain me?"
You go to a place of, I gotta...
How do I become that person?
That someone else will feel
that way about me, you know?
that's what I guess separates
healthy people
from non-healthy people.
There's a protective element,
I think, that we all kind of
share with one another,
because no one knows
but us what we go through.
The insecurity and the,
you know, the childishness,
the... the gaping hole
that can only be filled with the love of
strangers laughter every 15 to 30 seconds.
That is something that unless
you do it, you don't know.
No manager knows it,
even if they're a real
astute, empathetic manager,
and there are such people,
no agent knows it.
I do this every night.
Every night, 300...
I work, you know,
250, 300 nights a year,
and so don't tell me.
- It's failure.
- Yeah.
I think, it's failure
is what it is.
And... and the whole thing,
all these 27 years of me
doing stand-up have been a fluke
and today's the day
that they all figure it out
and you walk out there and it's
the first time you've ever...
And you're never funny again.
Well, I think
everyone can be funny,
but not when they want,
you know?
That's sort of the trick.
Sometimes when people
want to be funny
and they try,
it's a little painful.
- But...
- But the fact that they can try,
that's the thing that
to me that dilutes it,
because when you're at a party,
nobody dabbles in dentistry.
But everyone can, if they want,
choose to dabble in comedy.
They can be horrible.
But they can at least do it.
That's true.
That annoys the hell out of me.
That's true.
Well, I meant,
I think everyone's capable
of... of being funny
at some point or another,
you know?
I think... And I...
Definitely, I think every actor
is capable of being funny,
I really do.
The first person from my real life
that made me laugh really hard?
Dan Rather, I guess,
is the first guy
who really made me
sort of have that...
that I-think-
I'm-gonna-throw-up laugh,
when he switched
from suits to sweaters.
When I did stand-up,
I always thought,
"I'm just some fucking idiot.
Why would you sit and listen
to me talk for 20 minutes?"
I didn't have that confidence
that I could do some great
George Carlin monologue
that would inspire people.
And it took me another decade
to feel that in my movies
I could open up my heart
and tell people what
I felt about being alive
and that it was
worthy of being told.
And the moment I realized
that I can open up
and that it is okay to share
my way of looking at the world
with other people,
then my career took off.
I got to see Richard Jeni.
You know, I always loved Peter Sellers.
An early, early Peter Sellers.
You know,
or even Phyllis Diller.
Like, those kind of
threw me more than...
Stephen Wright.
Who gets on and is so quiet and withdrawn.
Dennis Miller's second special,
"Black and White."
Bill Cosby and whatnot.
And watching that master,
watching Johnny Carson
and seeing...
The Woody Allen movies,
and then
the Steve Martin specials.
Steve Martin.
I wanted to be...
The greatest stand-up with
the most weapons in history.
'Cause I thought then I could be the
right kind of Lenny Bruce funny.
And that's something that Adam Sandler,
like, really ingrained in me.
I saw "Spinal Tap," went,
"Who are these guys?
How come they're, like, making fun of
us in a way that's really accurate?"
And I went in doing
Alan Partridge,
there's a bit in it where
I steal from Michael McKean.
There's a scene where I say
something like...
"Who... do you think you are?"
And while I'm saying this,
there's a scene where Michael McKean...
when Christopher Guest comes in,
he says, "I've come to re-plug
your life support machine.
"I've come to...
We can re... do a tour of Japan."
Our single, "Sex Farm,"
was a big hit in Japan.
And he goes, "Oh, so you've come to
re-plug our life support systems?
fucking nerve you display."
And... and I...
I use that sometimes.
When we first started
making "The Office,"
uh, I was walking down
the street with Ricky Gervais,
and Steve Coogan
was coming the other way
and I was very excited and
kind of... but slightly daunted.
Like, "Ahh,"
and I have this weird thing
when I meet people I admire
that I don't want to seem
like a fawning idiot, you know?
Like, I want to seem, kind of...
I don't want
to give them, like...
Be effusive and going on
about how great they are.
I feel like that
just will seem vulgar
or kind of ass-kissy
or something, you know?
And so I had this kind of,
this thing, which is to
sort of be slightly, kind of,
a little bit cheeky, like,
we're comedians, you know?
You know, I'll have a little dig at
you and you have a little dig at me,
but it's all done
with good humor.
And Coogan comes out and he... he
introduces himself to both of us
and he's very sweet
and he says, "Oh, I...
I've seen your show
'The Office' and I'm a big fan."
And then he said,
"If my career is ever on the skids,
I'd love for you to
write something for me."
And my mouth... I just went, "Well,
you'd better get in touch now, then."
But, like,
for no reason, like...
His career was going
from strength to strength,
it was... like, it was just...
And he sort of went...
He kind of... "Eh?"
And he sort of was... And Ricky just
looked at me, like, that's a weird...
And I would...
No, I just... no...
"Obviously, you don't... your career
is going so good that you don't...
"It's ironic,
I'm saying, you don't...
"It was absurd. You don't need
to get in touch, 'cause..."
And I just...
I think he went, "Right."
And they kind of tried to have a
conversation for a little while
and then, he went, "Sorry,
I... sorry, what did you mean?"
And I went, "I'm sorry, I...
"What I meant was,
your career is clearly great,
so you don't need to
get in touch with us."
"But why would you say that?"
"No, but that... yeah."
And it just...
and it kind of...
it just fizzled out, you know,
and we just went off
into the day.
And I don't... I've never
really been able to, you know,
never had the opportunity to sort of
explain myself or apologize to him.
He must have just thought,
"What a dick."
I'd like to be able
to try and make a point
and then still be able
to tell a joke
about fucking getting shit on
you dick or whatever, right?
And I love that Carlin
can say something so precise
and so well and then,
"Now I'm gonna talk about
farts for five minutes."
He had the same hard line
when it came to farting,
if that makes sense.
But as I said,
I only became
a huge fan of Carlin
when I realized how hard it was
to be really good at this.
Groucho, Groucho,
Groucho, Groucho.
Not so many people talked Zeppo
or Chico, but I loved Harpo.
I loved... Because Harpo,
to me, was insane,
and there was
an unpredictable nature.
He'd just, you know,
be cross-examining the passport guy
and he'd just jump on
the thing and start, you know,
doing the pens
like it was a plane,
and then start chasing women.
And I thought, this guy,
because I don't know,
literally, there's no way I can
look away for five seconds
because I'll miss
some transition.
Lenny Bruce decides
that that kind of
philosophical honest speech
is gonna be called
stand-up comedy.
And right from that moment,
you've created Pryor and Carlin.
We don't know who
they're gonna be, you know,
but they have to happen.
I remember seeing Richard Pryor
on an "Ed Sullivan Show."
In which the routine was about
the toughest kid in school.
And for no reason at all,
the toughest kid in school
would like point at ya
and say, "You, after school,
I'm gonna bite
your foot off."
And you'd have to believe him
because he'd be walking around
with a big shoe
hanging out of his mouth.
I mean, that was
his routine for the...
for "The Ed Sullivan Show."
Ed Sullivan. Yeah.
The actual routine was,
"You, after school,
I'm gonna bite
your dick off."
And you had to believe it because he
walked around with a dick hanging...
I mean, no, it was pretty funny
when you realized that.
I mean, my favorite
is Richard going to Africa
and sitting...
sitting in the coach
with the African guy,
and he says, you know,
"The man smell,"
and he does this thing and it
was like...
And this whole...
and it was like,
"Oh, I'm watching the smell,
I can see it."
But then he says,
"And then I looked at him,
and he was like...
You stink, too."
And I thought, "Oh!"
And I understood.
Richie Pryor, who had
a big acting career,
did his greatest acting
in his stand-up,
where he would break your heart
and involve you in story.
I mean, you know, and you could
see it in his concert films.
Extraordinary, realistic acting.
And with movies, it was...
He just didn't give it that kind of
dimension that he did to his stand-up.
Richard was in love
with Pam Grier,
okay, like every guy
was in the '70s.
And he got his hands
on an old tape
of some of my dad's stuff
that wasn't so funny,
that wasn't that good.
They sit down and Richard says,
"Oh, I got some stuff, I got...
Y'all gotta hear this,
this is some great shit."
And he starts playing
some of my dad's old material
and my dad's getting hot, right?
He's kind of
shitting all over him,
my dad finally
just says, "Fuck this!"
And he gets up
and he lays out Richard,
takes both girls, and splits.
Now, I'm not lying.
I didn't make this story up.
This story was told to me
by... by "Growing Pains,"
by Joanna Kearns, man.
Like, I'm sitting in the trailer
and about right near
the end of the story,
I think she realizes,
"Oh, shit, he was married
and this is his son,"
and, like, goes into
this reserved, kind of...
But he was... he was
a very sweet man.
The news came on and they said
that Freddie Prinze
had just killed himself.
A comic could make
so much of a big...
make a big splash
in this world, you know,
and so many people are affected
by somebody
who makes them laugh.
It's an important job.
And for some reason, his passing
was the thing that
sent me out to L.A.
I was in Rochester, New York.
I was an absolutely
nobody, part-timer,
just jack of all trades, would
do whatever the radio station
asked of me and one day,
Sam Kinison walked in.
The mic went on
and he just spoke his mind
and he was outrageous,
he was funny.
Uh, he was sensitive at times
and a lightbulb
went off in my head
where I realized, "Oh, my God,
I could do this different.
Just you gotta just be yourself.
And, uh, and just...
I started blowing off all...
Everything I knew about
radio after that day.
I think the only vision
I had of it,
and many people
I believe say this,
is of "The Dick Van Dyke Show"
and the writer's room
of Buddy and Sally, and, um,
uh, Rob Petrie
thinking of ideas.
I used to sit home
and I used to watch it.
And I look at this
guy Rob Petrie,
and, you know, he was married
to Mary Tyler Moore,
he had a very nice house
up in New Rochelle,
he had a kid named Ritchie,
and he spent his days
at work lying on a couch,
just, you know, joking around
with Buddy and Sally
and I went,
"I think I want to do that."
I feel like I had a vision of,
"Oh, I'll write."
Somehow I'll get in a office,
but I think it was more
I just want to be around
people who do comedy
or say funny things.
As a got older, when Letterman
came on in high school,
then I had an idea,
I would like to write
for the Letterman show
and live in New York,
but it's not like I had a talent
for it, you know what I mean?
Excuse me, I have tuberculosis.
Um, I don't think it's
contagious, Kevin Pollak,
who is not sitting here with me.
Kevin Pollak, Kevin Pollak.
I think it is.
No, it might be.
I might have to take the waters.
It took me three years
to get on stage
for the first time.
Because... and the reason why
I finally got on stage
was that there was a contest.
It's always a contest.
So the prize was, um,
a check for $200
and the opportunity to
perform at the DC Improv.
Then thing that I worried about
when I first started
doing stand-up
was whether or not
I was crazy enough
to be a comedian, you know,
because I didn't really
understand what
being a stand-up...
I mean, I was doing sets
in comedy clubs
for almost a year
before I realized,
there's guys who you haven't even
heard of who don't have a day job
who are just doing
comedy clubs, you know?
I didn't know that that was
a thing that could happen.
I thought, "I'm going to the club
where Robin Williams started
"and someone's gonna
see me like they saw him
and then I'm gonna be
in a TV show."
That's what I thought
was gonna happen.
And I said to the club manager,
I said, "I want to do this
again, when can I do it?"
And they handed me a mop
and they said,
"Well, there's
no spots available,
"but, uh, but if you, you know,
if you run food to tables
"and sell tickets and things
like that, then we'll,
you know, we'll keep you in mind
for fallouts and cancelations."
And so I kicked around the DC Improv
for about three or four years
and eventually I was opening
for people like Brian Regan
and Jake Johannsen
and Mitch Hedberg,
these incredible comics
who taught me
everything about comedy.
It's about immersion,
it's about living...
Like, when I worked at the DC Improv,
I was there all the time.
I was there the nights I worked,
I was there the nights I didn't work.
I would...
I went to every show,
I saw comedians
who were nothing like me.
I... I saw Larry the Cable Guy
and Rodney Carrington.
People who you think you have
nothing in common with,
but really, comedians
have everything in common.
Cab driver, paralegal,
private chauffeur,
you know, stuff like that,
and I'm lost.
- I'm a lost soul, you know?
- In New York.
Yes, a lost soul.
Parents beside themselves.
"What are we gonna do?"
Went to university.
I would overhear conversations
that were heartbreaking,
you know, terrible.
About you?
Yeah, about me, yeah.
you know, "What are we gonna do," you know?
"What's he gonna do
with himself?"
They sent me to a psychiatrist, you know?
And, um, so I take the subway
to Brooklyn to the psychiatrist
and, you know, what...
what are you... You can't
do anything for me. No.
So, um, then I...
I don't know how or why
I thought of this,
but I decided to
take an acting class.
When I saw Bob Odenkirk and
David Cross for the first time,
I was like, "Oh, they're
doing what I could do.
"That's my sense of humor
and they're making a living
at it, maybe I could do this."
I always assumed no one...
Because I...
Look, I grew up
as a terrible nerd
who was considered to be ugly
and undateable,
- so...
- Chapter one.
So to... so I used humor,
but when you are
ugly and undateable,
the thing that people say to you
when you're trying to be funny
is, "Stop trying to be funny.
You're not funny."
At 25, I saw other comedians
doing the stuff that
I thought I was funny at,
so I did it, and within a week
of performing comedy
for the first time,
I now was a comedian.
And I told people,
"I'm a comedian," and people went,
"Oh, that's why you act the way
you act. Oh, you're funny."
We do come from
the misfit island of toys,
so we should be kind of
weird looking.
I try and communicate
that to my children.
I'm like, "There's nothing
wrong with being weird."
Um, you know,
it's a very strange...
'Cause I wish someone
would have told me that.
'Cause I feel like
that's something culturally
that we kind of toss around
but really,
being different is good.
Um, so I guess, uh,
yeah, when I...
And I know this has been
talked about before
and it's a lot more
open in society,
I know Jonathan Winters
talked about it in the '60s,
um, but, uh,
being in a psych ward,
like, I...
That was just...
To talk about that, like,
that was, like, really, uh,
I felt very ashamed of that.
And then to now,
you know, in stand-up,
you say it the first time and it's
like your voice is kind of shaking,
- you know?
- Yeah.
And then, like,
10 times in, it's like,
"Oh, so you're in
the psych ward, as you do,"
and you get so much
more relaxed about it.
And then finally, it's like,
you can talk about it with anybody. Yeah.
And that has been
a real gift to me, to...
that the art form allows us,
like, you can talk
about anything.
"I'd like to go on."
On a Saturday night.
On a Saturday night.
He said, "Who are you?"
I said, "I'm just...
I'm in the audience."
He said, "Have you ever
done comedy before?"
I said... I said, "No."
He said,
"No, you can't go on."
He said, "You have to audition," you know?
I don't think I got into it because
I was essentially narcissistic
or even that I was
looking for love.
Like, I feel like
I got into stand-up
because, you know,
I needed to be seen.
And I... and I thought that,
like, that stage,
I can do whatever I want,
whatever I want.
The only context is, you should get laughs.
That's even conditional depending
on how much you're being paid
and if you're not being paid at all,
you can do whatever you want.
You can yell, you can spit,
you can tell people
to fuck themselves.
It's great, you can do that
publicly, yell in front of...
But I think that, like, for me,
it was just a matter of, like, you know,
I felt that I had something to say
and I thought that comedy, for me,
when I watched it when I was a kid,
I was like, these guys
have a handle on things.
They can take life
and just turn a few phrases
and, like, they got a handle
on it and you learn things,
you see things in a different way
and they seem to be, you know,
in control of this horrendous
you know, hurricane of bullshit
that comes at us every day and I
think that's what appealed to me,
is like, how can I get a voice
that somehow can manage life
and... and be seen,
kind of like, "I exist
and I have things to say."
It's easily
the single craziest thing
that I have ever done
in my life.
Going up to Bud, asking him to go on.
Thank God he said no.
You have to nourish a delusion,
uh, you know, to sort of
you know, make your way...
to keep pushing
in show business.
You really have to
nourish your delusion.
And what's frightening,
I think, sometimes,
is that, you know,
people don't know when to stop,
you know what I mean?
It's like...
Comedy intervention.
Yeah, but does that really exist?
And what... how can you break
somebody's heart, you know?
Their heart's gonna break
on their own or it's not.
Here's the evolution of it,
I think.
It's first,
I want you to like me.
Then I want you to tell me
that I'm normal.
And then, "Listen, can I tell you guys
about this thing that happened to me?"
And the relief of,
"Yeah, I totally get
what you're saying."
That's happened to me, too.
And I think the older you get,
the more mature you become,
the more you really feel
that connection.
Even if they're just sitting there
in silence during the setup,
you really feel
that we are just talking here
and we understand each other.
And it's not so much
about me being understood,
it's about
we understand each other.
This is a horrible thing,
but my dog, um,
died from a thing that I did.
Like, I removed a ramp from
the backyard to the front yard
and I forgot to put it back
and she extreme sports'd it
three-and-a-half feet
to her death.
And I felt terrible about that
and I do a whole shtick about it.
But the great thing is,
like, after shows,
people would be like,
"I sat on my rabbit!"
Like, you're, like...
"I squeezed my hamster too hard.
I thought I was hugging it."
"Oh, yeah, okay,
right, right, like..."
You become a safe haven.
Yeah, yeah.
Like, uh, just...
Like, it doesn't become this private,
horrible, horrible thing.
And it took me years to really
understand that's what you're doing.
You know, the desire
to control an audience.
Or is it a desire to connect?
Is it a desire to say,
"Hey, we're all together,
"I'm part of you,
I got in there,
we have a recognition,
we know each other."
And thereby, I go,
"Okay, I do know who I am."
There's two kinds of laughs.
There's the kind of laugh
you get when you...
you do a good gag and do it well
and the audience laugh.
And then there's the other gag.
The other kind of joke you do,
when you say something
which reveals a truth
about the way men behave
or the way women behave
or something that everyone in
the room acknowledges is true,
all at the same time,
and they laugh,
and their laugh is
a laugh of recognition.
And that kind of laugh
comes from the gut,
because they're laughing
'cause they go,
you've just shone a light
on what it is to be human.
You could, you know,
walk into a notes session
and you could threaten
to walk off a movie
if you change
one frame of that gag
'cause I am sure that this works
and I will not change it.
It ruins the character, if...
You don't understand
what movie we're making.
This is something that's
important to me and I am...
This is... I will
go to the mat on this one.
You show it to an audience,
if it doesn't get a laugh,
you're back in the editing room,
"Okay, let's blow this thing up."
What do we do here?
Let's recut it.
Anybody have any ideas?
And that's, I guess,
our greatest success,
is creating that image
in their brain.
If it's a story piece
and they can see it, hear it,
taste it, smell it,
and then, boom.
The fireworks go off.
Every comedian will tell you
the most entertaining
show to watch
is your good friend who you know
is really funny,
on stage, struggling.
Bombing so hard, but I had to
keep doing the impression
and I'm talking like Cliff...
Hey, there, Normy.
You know, the actual fact...
And I was looking, Jon Stewart was
in the crowd and he was going...
He was going...
There's a show where I've never
bombed so badly in my life.
I went on and I fucking tanked.
I was a Saturday night.
I did two shows
and the audience stared at me
and it was a living hell.
It was a nightmare and I bombed.
Never forget, it's the only time
I've ever bailed on my time.
You know, everyone bombs.
And again, you know,
what might be a bomb today
might be considered
grand art 10 years from now.
I find stand-up really tough,
'cause if it's not great,
I find that the actor in me
just wants to die.
I have to leave the theater.
If they're dying,
I'm dying worse.
I so vicariously
suffer with them,
but when they're
good at it, it just...
it's a mystery to me.
I don't get how they do it.
I wouldn't do stand-up
with a gun to my head.
What goes through your
mind when you just hear
crickets in the audiences?
Uh, failing on stage
as a stand-up
is a quick descent into,
"They hate me,
"my life has no value, uh,
I'm alone,
I'll never be funny again."
My father watched me
get no laughs
on my set... like, none.
And I got off stage, 17,
and I went to the bathroom
and had a little cry
and then I got
in the car with my dad,
and my dad said, he goes,
"Aw, I don't think this
is for you, mate,
"this is not a bad little hobby.
And, you know, if it means
anything, I think you're funny."
You know, he was very
supportive, but he told me
to quit it and I did.
I did one more go,
and it went average,
and I thought, "Well,
this is it, it's not for me."
The one thing I think is a common
denominator of all comedians
and that is a bond.
Is that, uh,
in order to become a comic,
pay attention,
you have to love
watching yourself die.
You have to... because
when you're learning it,
you're bombing a lot,
there's more than crickets,
there's hate.
There's, like, sharks,
and you're bleeding
and they're nipping,
and, you know...
One of the great lines
ever yelled at me,
"Why don't you go home
and gargle with razorblades?"
Which crippled me.
I laughed so fucking hard,
I said,
"I'm done, you win, that's...
that's so good,
I'm gonna use it."
Probably one... maybe
the first or second time I ever,
like, bombed, I don't know why,
but my fight-or-flight
instinct kicked in
and evidently, it was flight.
I was supposed to do
seven minutes
and I got up there
and I already told the host
what my closer was,
and I got up there and I did
probably three minutes of my act
to silence,
and then I was like,
"Well, I have four minutes left
and I'm not gonna spend it in
four more minutes of silence,"
so I just immediately
jumped to my closer,
which takes... probably
took about 35 seconds,
and I did my closing bit
and went, "All right, thanks."
Total time on stage was probably
four minutes, if that.
And then one of
the other comics went,
"Yeah, I know, it sucks to eat
shit, but you can't do that."
I was like, "Oh, really?
I can't just bail if it's not going well?"
This did happen recently,
semi-recently, Spinal Tap,
based on this movie I did
with Rob Reiner, Harry Shearer,
Michael McKean,
we have played live
for the last 30 years,
and we were doing
a show in Canada.
That's because at that point,
you're gonna
cut to a maple leaf.
Um, we did a live performance
and it was nothing.
I mean, zero. It wasn't...
There was no recognition.
Ladies and gentlemen,
please welcome Spinal Tap.
Singing, playing, big bottom.
And then we said...
You know, that thing.
And it truly was...
something I've never
experienced before or since.
The award before me
is won by Raul Julia,
a brilliant, wonderful actor,
who had died that year.
- And the widow Julia comes up...
- No, no.
...to take the award
and accept it.
And it was an amazing speech,
but I mean, people are weeping.
And I'm backstage and I go,
"For fuck's sake,
I keep having to do this shit
following dead people!"
Well, the crew backstage is
going, "Oh, that's so funny!
You gotta say that!
You gotta say that!"
And I went... having no experience
with this, I go, "Really?"
This is like the band has said,
"Hey, that's a great joke,
you should tell it on stage."
So on live television,
I decide to go off-script...
and I come out and I go,
"What the hell is it?
"On the Emmy awards,
I follow dead Jessica Tandy
and now I follow a dead...
another dead guy."
I mean, the boos and the hisses
and the hostility.
And I...
I had never produced sweat
like that in my life.
It was like Albert Brooks
in "Broadcast News."
So I... I go to close up
and same deal,
I say, "I'm gonna tell you
one more thing then go."
Some guy yells out,
"Don't even tell us that,
just go!"
And another sailor...
it's a naval base,
another sailor stands up
and says, "Leave him alone,
I think he's pretty funny."
And looks around,
nobody's on his side.
And he goes,
"Not that fucking funny."
Sits down.
I do my closing joke
to silence and I say,
"Well, that's it for me,
if you see a dick, suck it."
And I run off the stage
and the woman has my check in one
hand and my jacket in the other
and she says, "Get out of here,
they will kill you."
So they literally are chasing...
I'm running to my car
and they're chasing me and
it's almost like a horror movie
where they never
get closer than 15 feet.
Like, consistently,
they're like...
And I get to my car and there's
always that scene in the movie
where the guy
tries to open up the door
and you think
it's bullshit, it's not.
I all of a sudden don't know how
to use a key and I'm panicking
and I'm trying to get in my car.
And to look at it
objectively as an adult,
to be in a bar,
in a spotlight,
with a stick that
makes your voice louder,
like, to just
demand that attention
and to not pay it off,
and to have people hate you,
I mean, that is a really naked,
creepy, uh,
kind of torment
to put yourself through.
If I'm on stage and it's not
going as well as I'd hoped,
perhaps in the past,
I might've sped up.
Now, I have a little trick.
I just slow... right... down.
And I smile a bit
and you just trick 'em.
You think, "My God,
I thought he was doing badly,
"but look how relaxed he is.
"It must be me.
"I must be misreading this.
This guy's actually
very good."
I was up for this pilot
for a reality show
and I was doing it
with Adam Sandler.
Me, Adam Sandler, and I think
Rob Schneider or David Spade,
and it was gonna be guys
travelling across America
with video cameras and, uh,
we were all unknowns
and Jim Henson was the producer.
So we went out and we filmed
our own audition ourselves.
And then they called me
and they said,
"Jim Henson would like
to buy your ideas.
"He liked a lot of your ideas,
"but he doesn't think
you should be on camera
because he thinks
you lack warmth."
And I thought, "This is the guy
who taught me how to read.
"This is Kermit the Frog.
"This is Sesame Street.
"This is the warmest man
in the world
telling me I lack warmth."
So I think all of
these things made me think,
"Oh, maybe I just
should not be on screen.
Jim Henson hates me."
If I couldn't do stand-up,
I am out of luck.
That power of, like, writing
a joke and going up that day
and not having to worry about
anybody else chiming in.
Only two things
I wanted in life...
one was to be from New York City
and the other was to be Jewish.
But then, you know,
I learned to juggle
and all hopes of being
taken seriously go away.
Or Jewish.
All hopes of being
Jewish go away.
It does feel really good to...
I felt like there was just something a
little bit weird about you your whole life
and why do I want
to make people laugh,
but then I want
to disappear also?
And then you...
You meet all these other people
that are just like you,
and they liked the shows
that you liked
when you were a kid,
and people thought
they were mean,
and people
thought they were weird,
and you're all weird together.
And they become
like your family,
but then it makes you...
retract from...
from normal people.
We speak the same language,
and I never really feel
as comfortable as
I feel with comedians
with anyone else.
And then bringing a guy
around comedians, like,
"This is Joe,"
and they're all
like, "Okay."
And I'm like,
"Oh, you're right."
How much of it is
an enjoyment of...
of making the other two laugh?
Oh, it's the best.
Well, I'm...
This is where I'm a little
more different than these two.
There are guys that
Jimmy doesn't like us
talking to on the radio,
and I can't wait
for them to call in,
hit that phone, knowing
it's gonna drive him nuts,
or, you know,
back in the old days
more than now,
I would really push
people's buttons
to the point these two
would get so uncomfortable,
and you would think
that would be my cue
to back off, but now I'm like,
"Oh, they're uncomfortable?
Let me see how far
I can take this."
And I've had these guys,
like, walk out of the studio,
walk behind equipment.
Oh, yeah, yeah.
Just completely...
Horrified, embarrassed.
It really is uncanny
how uncomfortable
he could make me with
talking to certain guests.
It was... it was funny,
and I look back on it,
and they're some
of my favorite moments,
and it's... but it's like...
I don't have the ability
to do that.
Like, I would just go,
"Oh, no, I'm just kidding."
Right, right.
Like, I would have to fucking, you know,
emotionally whore it out
and ruin it.
I've always been
I think you have
to be self-centered
in order to do this kind of thing,
a little bit.
So much of comedy is confidence
and believing, you know,
faking it till
you make it, I think.
When I was doing "The State,"
I was among 11 friends,
ten of them guys,
on MTV doing this show
in our early 20s,
and it was a dream for us
because we had the keys
to the kingdom.
We got to make our own TV show
just out of college,
it was crazy.
But among the group,
the 11 of us,
it was very competitive
and very painful at times.
March of 1977,
and Paul Shaffer was
in town, in L.A.
And Nancy and I were
staying with
a friend of ours, and...
My girlfriend Nancy,
later to be my wife...
and Paul was in town,
and he was gonna have
dinner with Billy Murray,
who just, you know,
started that year
on Saturday Night Live.
And Nancy and I were
walking along
Santa Monica Boulevard.
We're going to go
to the Sunset Marquis Hotel.
And I just said to her,
"I can't walk
"What do you mean?
Are you having a stroke?"
I said, "No, I just...
I gotta sit down."
So we sat in the bench.
She said,
"What's wrong?"
"I can't go and have dinner
with Paul and Billy
"and pretend to be happy
for everyone's success,
"because I am floating,
and I don't know
what to do."
"How long
do we sit here?"
"I don't know.
I don't know.
Maybe the night."
So later on, whenever
we would pass it,
we'd call it, oh,
"There's Breakdown Corner."
Remember Breakdown Corner?
We had a conversation
once where, you know,
you were trying to do a TV show,
and I was saying,
"All we're trying to do
is get movies."
And it's this sort of...
not happy with
the room you're in
no matter what the room is.
We're on this gigantic
television show,
and all of us are
just thinking, well,
"On hiatus,
we gotta get a movie,
"'cause we want to be
a movie star,
because we should
be movie stars."
That, thankfully,
has completely changed,
and now I love vacations
and love having downtime
to a certain extent.
But there is still
that part of me that,
you know, wants to be...
wants to be working.
My dad was very
protective of me,
another way in which
he protected me
was actually say to me,
I really would not forbid you
but really, really encourage you
to stay away from
stand-up comedy,
because it's a ruthless world
and it's a tough life,
as I knew, as a kid,
and then the club circuit,
very different than what he did,
an even tougher life,
and I think he really
wanted to protect me
from that moment when
some heckler shouted out,
"Where's the funny,
The theory, that comedians are
veterans of a shared
combat experience,
not foxhole buddies,
more like snipers who've...
- Did you write that?
- Yes.
With similar stories
of kills and misses.
That's fantastic.
There's only so many
bell towers.
Yeah, no kidding.
I brought my lunch.
I could be up here all night.
I have a box of dynamite, too,
in case it gets out of hand.
I think there is
a fraternity of comedians.
That's how I look at it.
Men and women.
Other than one or two people
that you detest
beyond all measure,
we all get along
with each other,
and when you're
working together,
you're on their side.
I've been in many shows
where even people
I didn't like very much,
the crowd will have a go at them
and I would go on after
and fucking mop up,
on behalf of them.
I've done it before,
I remember a time in L.A.
I won't say who the comic was,
but he didn't do very well,
and the crowd was on his dick,
and I came up
after him and went,
"You people are fucking morons.
"That guy's a genius,
and don't ever,
ever do that in
my presence again."
You know, and then
I've had crowds
be racist when
you're with a black comic,
to the black comic, and then
I'll get up and go,
"You're making
a mistake, you think that,
"'cause I'm white,
I'm on your side.
"I'm on his side,
'cause we're friends,
and I hate you."
One time
I masturbated in a church.
We'll take that.
I mean, I was...
I was, you know, a teenager.
It was almost a soc...
a socio-religious experiment.
I'm gonna do this,
and I wonder if
anything bad's gonna happen,
or I wonder if this is okay,
or if this is natural.
And then I did it,
and nothing really happened,
and I was like,
"Well, I guess I can
check that
off the list."
I've not done that since then.
It was really just the one time.
Was it during confession?
It was...
I didn't masturbate
in front of the altar.
No, that's...
If I had done that,
I would have been
a serial killer,
as I was shaving my whole body,
masturbating in front of...
that didn't happen,
it was, you know,
I... look, look.
I masturbated in a church
in the best way
that you could have,
which was quietly
in the bathroom,
like, it wasn't out in public.
Well, I think it's
important you clarify,
'cause a lot of us
had you in the pews.
I was not in the pews.
I was going pew-pew-pew,
I always find it
fascinating even now,
but when I was back
just doing stand-up
that, if you go to parties,
comedians end up together.
They flock, they flock together,
and, like, you can be
at a party, any...
You can be at the biggest,
craziest, you know,
Oprah's whatever party,
you can be at the...
And all the comedians end up at the
same table or in the same corner.
And then we get together and
talk about the hits and misses.
The hits and misses,
that's exactly what it is.
You get together, and you want
to hear road stories,
and you want to hear, like,
"Oh, no, I know that booker,
"Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah,"
or "I opened for that person,
oh, they're the worst,"
or whatever it is.
It's just...
it fascinates me.
Or you can go like,
"Who is that comedian that
"did the... remember, they did
the bit with the...
"There was, like, a midget in...
And you go, "Oh, I know
who that was, that was..."
And you just say
the person's name,
it's like, thank God
you were here 'cause
no one else would get you.
By the time I got to be 15,
the juggling in the show
was shrinking,
and I was talking more and more.
And then I realized,
though, after that,
that all the jokes
these comics were
handing back to me
were about me.
And I went, "Wait a minute,
you don't have to be a..."
You know, a hen could
figure this shit out.
I have to talk about myself.
Let's talk about
anything but this routine.
I don't want to do it.
I don't want to say it,
I know it's gonna work.
I don't care, it's worked
a thousand times...
I don't give a shit.
I hate you for laughing,
you sheep, you lemmings.
For 40 years, I've been punching
out of a paper bag
to find out what I'm allowed
to say and not allowed to say.
So take your pants off
and don't move
is kind of
the theme of my comedy.
The first thing you learn
is how to avoid...
pain and the ultimate
failure, which is death.
You'll never be dead, they'll
just make you finish one day.
And I was in Buffalo,
and I was in the middle of...
It wasn't a packed house,
but I was in
the middle of a joke,
and I'm like, I can't do it.
I just...
I'm tired of myself.
I'm saying this out loud.
I'm like,
I don't know what
we're gonna fucking do,
but I can't do this.
And they're all sitting
there like, you know,
you're in charge,
and you're just
looking out at people like...
- You know, right?
- Is this part of the act?
Yeah, right.
And I'm like...
But you know, we really...
my fans are like,
"All right, Maron's just
gonna... let him find it."
He's struggling.
He does this sometimes.
You know, on some level,
if they are my fans, it's like,
"It happens,
I know him."
So I sat up there
for, like, 45 seconds
just sort of like,
"Oh, shit."
Like, in that silence,
and there's nothing more...
There's no more present
than that.
You know,
where you're like, you know,
they have expectations,
you're not filling them,
and you're alone on stage
and they're watching you
sit there,
and I'm like,
"Oh, goddamn it."
Nobody wants my advice.
No comedians want my advice,
but if I was gonna give
advice to people,
my advice would be,
if you say something funny
in the moment, you better
write it down.
Stop editing yourself.
"Oh, that won't work on stage"
or "That was too funny" or...
I am proud of myself
that I write
almost every single thing down,
funny, unfunny, laundry lists.
I heard a thump,
and I looked
to the side of the stage,
and somebody threw their
prosthetic leg onstage
with a shoe on it,
a hiking boot, and a sock.
It was kind of rubber.
the crowd was
just as astonished as I was,
and I said, "Who threw
the leg up here?"
And nobody would answer.
And I think if you're just
starting out as a comic,
it might throw you,
but, because I've been
doing it so long,
and I'm looking
for something like that,
we had a lot of fun with it.
You know, I put it up
on the stool,
we tried doing
forensic research on it.
Well, you know, from the...
You know, from
the texture of the rubber,
it doesn't look like this
person works out much.
It looks like
a male Caucasian leg,
about five-eight,
about 200-plus pounds,
and you know, the audience
was loving it, you know.
Whose is this?
Hop up here and get it.
Houston Laugh Stop,
it was one of the...
craziest ever, just chaos.
Like, literally
people beat each other up.
Just customers beat the shit
out of each other.
I was like, "Wow."
I'm ordering beers on stage,
no one cares.
Just a free-for all,
so after that, I have no plans.
Once people start
beating each other up,
I'm now just another customer.
You know, you can be on stage
doing your stand-up routine,
and because you've done it
50 times already,
your mind can slightly wander,
even as you're saying your act.
You're doing your act,
the audience is responding,
but your mind is actually
thinking about other things,
You can consciously be
in two places at once.
You can hear your mouth moving,
but you can be thinking,
"Where are we gonna
eat after this?"
It's a very bizarre thing,
and I remember once
being on stage and...
and I just was very aware
of the absurdity
of the whole situation,
like, not just the fact that
I was in front of a room
talking, which was weird,
when you step above it,
that seems weird,
and that your job is
to make them laugh,
like a jester, that was weird,
but also the...
the pointlessness of it all
and I remember sort of
and then kind of
coming back again,
back into that moment,
and, like, oh, well,
there's nothing else to do.
This is as good a thing
to be doing at this moment
as anything else.
Should I share my life
with somebody?
Uh... was I
a good enough husband?
Can I actually coexist
with another human being?
Do I tell people that I love
that I love them enough?
Have I told my parents
enough that I love them?
Am I honest enough with
the people in my life?
Am I grateful enough
for how lucky I've been?
These are the questions
that nag at me
when I'm in the car,
when I wake up
in the middle of the night,
and I'm just... I'm up
from 4:00 to 6:00 a.m.
And this is the stuff that
I end up making movies about,
and I think this is
the stuff that we end up
all... writing comedy,
writing books, making movies,
painting paintings,
this is the stuff
that finds
its way into the work,
and if you're not doing...
if you're not
working on that stuff,
then you're not really
working on anything.
I've carried for so many years
a chip on my shoulder
from my childhood
or my working class background
that, you know,
when I meet a kid
who grew up with cash,
and he's a comic or something,
I'm very dismissive of them.
I'm like,
"You don't fucking know.
What do you got
to talk about?"
And now, I'm bringing up one,
and it's like... I guess
what you do is
you don't give them anything
and you make them have jobs,
you make them buy their own car,
and there's things that I can do
that my parents
made me do through necessity
that I can just do to be a dick.
But there's things
that I'm not willing to do.
I'm not... I'm not willing
to take him on
shitty holidays...
and that was a lot
of my memories,
is sitting in a caravan park
with my parents, 'cause
I don't want to have
shitty fucking holidays.
I want the coconut
on the island,
so that means that
little cunt's gonna be
sitting there with
a coconut, too,
being waited on hand and foot.
So how do I stop him
from being a fuckwit?
And then if he wants
to be a comic,
I... you know,
I think about that as well,
like, people go, "You think
he'll want to be a comic?"
I go, "Why the fuck
would he want to be a comic?"
It's like, I was watching
some talent show,
"America's Got Talent,"
and they had a family
of people that were on unicycles
spinning basketballs,
and they had eight kids
or 12 kids or something...
there was a lot of kids,
and all the kids...
were spinning basketballs,
riding unicycles.
And I just think,
that's got to be
one person's passion
in that whole group.
It can't be that much
of a coincidence.
It can't be
that much of a coincidence
that the whole family is going,
"You know what?
"That's what I'm into as well.
Unicycle basketball
And especially
to be spinning a basketball
when you're 19,
and your sister's three.
It's like, "Come on and practice
with your sister on
the unicycle,"
and you're like,
"I don't wanna..."
You know, I don't care
how religious you are,
or that you have so many kids,
and you want to have
a family that sticks together,
but I think...
I know you didn't
ask me about parenting,
but I think about it
a lot at the moment.
I think parenting
is getting them
so they don't need you.
Stand on your own.
Yeah, I think it's getting...
And then, hopefully...
they love you and want
to visit you occasionally.
I feel that there's safety
in accomplishing something
and being in
the middle of a task.
Yeah, the safety is
in the doing.
You know,
for a long time, I thought,
"If something succeeds,
that'll make me
feel better."
And having had certain
things succeed,
I've had certain things fail,
but I've had things succeed,
to the point
where you think, "Well,
that's the moment where
happiness will happen."
You know, the movie did well,
or people liked it,
and I realize,
I'm getting almost
no happiness out of it.
That, for me,
it's all in the moment.
- It's just...
- The doing it.
It is, it's editing, it's...
it's trying to figure
things out,
and that makes me
feel a little safe,
that I'm in the process
of trying to make
something work out.
And so...
that's not healthy either.
And so, to realize,
"Oh, I need to find
a way to be happy,
not when something worked out,
and not in the process,
but just in nothing,
and I am so far
from accomplishing that.
Right, so that's
the essential question, right?
That's what every...
every comedian wonders.
Do you have to be miserable
to be funny?
Every comedian's
history and background
and reason that they...
you know,
realized they were funny,
and they started to do comedy
in one form or another,
it has some roots in
trauma and pain and sadness.
Not misery but maybe annoyance.
Jesus, why be miserable?
I don't...
what's the upside in that?
So when I see a vegetable tray,
I'm annoyed.
I'm like, no one wants that.
Why are you putting it
out there?
Trying to pretend
that you're healthy?
People are just gonna
eat the guacamole.
Don't even put out the radishes.
What is this, a seder?
No one's gonna eat that.
I think people who
don't quite fit in,
given the subject today
and find an outlet in comedy
and find that
that's the thing where,
if you... the steam lets out
if you can just find that knob
and make a joke out of it.
Yeah, I think that happens,
and I think it's one of the
great reasons for comedy.
I'm not personally miserable.
I make those around me
You know what
makes people miserable?
My gesturing.
But he had said
at one point, he goes,
"I've had my foot
on the stool."
And I was like,
what does that mean?
And then I was like, oh, my God,
literally, like, he's thinking
about not living anymore.
And I'm like, how could somebody
this funny and original
not want to live?
So I said, hey, man, before you
think about killing yourself,
why don't you go
record a podcast?
And he goes, yeah,
that's the cure for death.
I was like, it could be,
I was like,
every time
you're on Smodcast with me,
people love you.
People love Walt,
they think you guys are funny
and original and stuff.
Three weeks after
he records the first podcast,
he sends me this e-mail
where he's like,
"I backed off the stool,"
and I was like,
"It's the talking cure, dude."
As long as you're always candid
with them, it's win-win.
The audience will stick by you
and be like,
"This motherfucker...
"He will tell me horrible things
about himself.
Like, he'll tell me
that he takes
fucking dick medicine 'cause
it don't get hard or whatever,
he'll tell us...
if he'll tell us that,
next ten things he says are
fucking honest and shit.
It's more of...
Just accepting who he was, man.
I think once my mom was okay
with it,
I was okay with it.
As long as I saw that
it was hurting her,
and she was having
a tough time on her birthday...
that was the day he chose
to end his life...
you know, it...
Then I didn't enjoy any of it,
but once I saw that
she was more comfortable
and once she saw that I...
that I had done what I did,
and I wasn't gonna fall
down that route,
it's just not...
it's just not in me.
I think everybody has that...
has that moment
at some point in their life
of, "Are people better off
without me?"
And your brain is
either gonna allow you
to pull the trigger
or take some pills,
or it's not, and mine won't.
So she... and we had
that conversation,
so once she knew that,
everything else was kinda...
just sort of fell into place.
You know, there's still
things I can't
possibly wrap my head around.
But I'm just wired differently
than my father was,
you know what I mean?
I'm not... I'm not
as funny as him,
he's not as cool as me.
That's just the way it goes.
He was just like,
"I'm so far away from the stool
at this point,
"and it's all from
talking about who I am
"and who I am was who
I hated the most
that put me
toward a stool."
So this was a guy who never
thought about doing comedy,
but comedy saved
his fucking life.
And it's not traditional
comedy in the way, like,
you'd find a guy at a mic,
standing on a little stage
with a mic, you know.
It's a guy talking out his shit
but with an inability
to do it in a dry way
or in a serious way.
He has to deflate his own
balloon constantly,
and, in doing so, like,
sharpen his comedic chops,
introduce himself to an audience
who were like,
"We like what you have to say."
Suddenly, you can make a living
off of doing that stuff,
and not just make
a living, like, pay his bills,
but he can live.
He's living because of this.
I wanted to tell him, like,
I booked my first job,
right, I booked...
There was a show called
"Family Matters"
with Urkel, right?
Everybody knows Urkel.
And I had, like, four lines.
I was a kid who
brought a gun to school,
and they were trying
to get me...
Don't I look thuggish?
Don't I look like a bad kid?
- And...
- Also, who would say...
Also, who would say,
"Get me Freddie Prinze Jr.
for the kid who comes
to school with a gun"?
Yeah, right?
That's the only role I book,
is the gangster, right?
Scooby Doo was way gangster.
So I booked this job,
and I was crazy excited,
the audition was at
Warner Brothers.
Forest Lawn is
right behind Warner Brothers.
I drove straight there,
and I just had to say "Sorry,"
and I had to say "Thank you,"
and I had to get angry,
all in one conversation.
It was like, "Thank you,
I love you, fuck you."
It was everything,
but it all came out,
and it was just...
When you can sort of
vomit emotion like that,
everything else starts
to kind of mellow out,
and then when
people tell you stories
about your dad...
fucking everything in L.A.
but his wife,
it doesn't hurt as bad,
because you've kind of gone
through way worse.
So you know, as far as...
My mom's relationship with it,
she has to believe
what she has to believe in,
and I respect that,
and she very well could be
right, you know,
but for me to get by,
and for me to accept
in any way, shape, or form
what kind of a man he was,
then I had to be okay with...
with how I perceived it
and how I saw it.
When someone dies,
the last thing
you think of is,
"Did they do the dishes?"
You're like,
"Oh, my God, I hope...
he had enough sex, I hope
he was happy... " you know?
It's awful.
You know,
once we started speaking
honestly about ourselves,
and having a point of view
and not just being,
you know, a type of clown.
Once comics started
to talk out loud
about their life
and life around them,
people made this assumption,
like, "Oh, they got...
They're all
incredibly fucked up."
But I don't... I think
that's a mischaracterization.
You know, I...
I think that struggle
is necessary,
but I don't think
misery is necessary.
You know
what's an interesting thing?
Maybe you have to be insecure
to be funny.
Maybe that's part of it.
You don't have to be miserable.
But there has to be
something wrong with you.
I don't think in theory
one needs to be miserable
to be funny.
But I don't know
anyone close to me
that's not miserable.
The people I know really well
that are the funniest
are the most miserable.
I'm not miserable.
I think I'm just indifferent.
I'm miserable right now
because of what I'm going
through with my finances,
and, at 58, I didn't want
to be in this position,
and whoever said
"money doesn't buy happiness,"
I hope you're fucking dead,
'cause you're an idiot.
'Cause you know what?
I'm only miserable
because I'm so depressed
because I'm working
so hard for so little,
but there's a lot of people
doing a lot worse
than I am, you know?
"At least you got
your health."
Whatever Jewish idiot
said that, you're wrong.
Health is good, money is good.
The combination is just great.
And I've talked
about this on stage a lot.
I've suffered from depression.
Been on and off antidepressants
for the last...
Probably ten years or so,
and at times I've been suicidal
and not because of comedy,
but just, you know,
other pressures from the world,
and whatever, and I realized
that happiness isn't...
isn't all about
stand-up comedy,
and I've only realized that
just recently,
and people ask you
in interviews, they go,
"How would you like to be
And I've got
to come to terms with...
I might not be remembered,
and that doesn't matter.
The only thing I care about now
is how my son remembers me.
And if everyone else sorta
liked me, that's all right,
but as long as he thinks I was
a good guy, you know...
When my dad dies, I don't think
he was just a carpenter,
I don't think
he's gonna be remembered
by the whole world,
but he'll be remembered by me.
And that's...
I'm working on
making that more important
than being remembered as
a great comedian.
Everyone's miserable, everyone
has misery in their lives,
but really, you know,
misery is just a form
of dissatisfaction,
and so maybe...
You know, maybe comedy is really
just taking dissatisfaction
and discomfort
and spinning it
in a way that helps you
deal with it,
and then people relate to it.
Um, I think you at least
have to know misery.
I don't think
comedians corner the market
on loneliness and need
for attention,
but I think they have
to know it, certainly.
I think that's
where it comes from.
Sort of a fear
a protection of that fear.
To this day, I'm...
there's nowhere that I'm funnier
than in a doctor's office,
'cause I'm a little scared
and a little...
I'm hilarious
in a doctor's office.
I bartended for a long time.
Let me just tell you,
the general public's
kinda miserable.
I don't think it's because...
I think we just have
a faster track to misery,
and it's more available.
I mean, we walk into work,
our job,
and somebody goes,
"You want a shot?"
Well, that doesn't
happen at IBM.
You don't show up
at 9:00 in the morning,
there's a guy with a bottle
of Peach Schnapps.
"Hey, you in?"
So if you are leaning
toward any bad habits,
this is the perfect lifestyle
to engage in,
but again, rule follower.
Control, I'm never gonna...
I'm not shooting heroin with you
by the trash can
at 9:00.
What, are you crazy?
I do try to, on some level,
even if I'm telling a joke
about a gaping butthole,
I do try to have it
colored by the fact
that I like people,
I enjoy being alive,
and, um...
Gratefully, you don't
have a gaping butthole.
Yeah, not yet, you know?
You know,
the self-loathing darkness
where you wake up 3:00
in the morning and kinda go...
but this is
an old Steve Martin bit
where you just kind of,
like, go in,
you sprinkle
some water on your face,
and you look at yourself in
the mirror, and you say...
"What is
happening to me?!"
You know?
"Why am I in this hotel?"
By the way, I figured that out
two-and-a-half years ago.
That's right.
That would be...
54-and-a-half years of living
in self-loathing darkness,
so you get past that,
and things seem to be a little
bit better, don't they?
I had a panic attack on stage
once that was terrifying,
because I did not know
there was such a thing
as panic attacks.
The thought of
having to be on stage
for another 50 minutes
and then two more hours
after that
was unendurable,
and I walked offstage,
and I walked out of the club,
and the club owner was
in the lobby,
and he looked
at me, and he went,
"Who's on stage
right now?"
I just went, "No one."
And I walked into
the men's room,
and I just stood
in the stall for a minute,
and it kinda passed.
Then I finally get
to the right doctor,
who said,
"I think you might want
to take a pill for this."
And he just...
"Yeah, panic disorder.
People have it."
My sort of hippy-dippy
friends would say, like,
"You know, you're still
feeling the anxiety,
you're just
masking it with medication."
And I go, "Yes."
That's what it says on the label
of the prescription, "masks."
In the winter,
I still feel the cold.
I mask it with a coat.
Because I'm a coward.
I wrote "Swingers" after
suffering from a breakup.
That aspect was
and through the experience
of writing that thing
alone in my rented room,
I was pouring my heart and soul
into this thing,
and then...
By the time I had to perform it,
I wasn't really connected
with that pain anymore,
and then,
by the time I showed it,
there was laughter
and the opposite
of the feeling
I felt in the breakup,
because I was now connected
with these thousands
of people around the world,
and everybody who saw it
or a screening I went to,
now I felt like I was
part of a collective,
I felt like I was... people
understood me,
I understood them,
and we shared a heart.
I've done a lot of plays in
Midtown, Broadway and whatever,
and, like, I'll do the walk,
I'll do the 40-block walk,
full talking to myself,
full talking to myself,
reliving shit that
just happened,
having full conversations with
people that I wanted to have,
"Fucker, why the fuck
do you keep doing this?"
Something like that, you know,
you want to have that
conversation, you don't,
you have it with the other guy,
and you're like,
"I swear, tomorrow,
I'm gonna say something."
It doesn't happen, but I...
I get it all out,
like, in 40 blocks,
walking and talking.
Nobody fucking bothers me.
I think artists are,
you know, brave people,
but we're fucked up.
Yes, there are...
really fucked-up people
in show business.
The people that talk about
how fucked-up people are
in show business,
have they met anyone
that's not in show business?
The same pain,
the same suffering,
the same angst,
the same tortures,
the same doubts,
the same misery are all there.
In show business,
you show what you're feeling.
So, yes, they show the angst,
but they're showing
the angst of humanity,
the angst that we all share.
If you had a comic
that truly had experiences
that were outside of the realm
of the general humanity,
no one would go see them.
Right now, I'm still
making the decision of,
am I a comedian?
I shuffle the job title
on the web with what I do first,
depending on what I'm doing.
And I'm a comedian,
and I'm proud to be a comedian.
It took me a really long time
to take out the word "American"
and put "comedian."
Don't you take my truck,
I'm a comedian.
You know, we'll do
a montage at the end.
It can be viewed as
questionable babysitting.
I'm in charge of these people,
but I shouldn't be.
But I am, and let's just hope
it doesn't get weird.
To this day,
I don't know what happened.
I don't. I don't.
All of a sudden,
it went from them
loving me to them hating me.
But maybe I'm not that funny,
so I'm not that fucked-up.
That's the consolation.
The best type
of conversation you'll have,
you're talking,
and someone's listening, right?
It's the narcissist fantasy.
Don't be...
don't ruin it for everybody.
With your feelings.
This whole thing about
feelings, I just...
I couldn't absorb it.
Even though I had them.
I made a girl cry in college.
I feel bad.
I'm a horrible person.
They hate me.
This is the end
of my life and career.
I will never recover.
They will never like me again.
I'm stupid, I'm...
It's all of that put together.
I used to be
a smart-ass in class,
and I'd get sent to the
principal's office.
And now...
You get sent to the bank.
I get sent to the bank.
If the ego is making
the decisions,
then you're never
gonna be satisfied.
It's also hard to imagine
anywhere near normal writing
the great American novel,
you know, I think.
Exposing the absurdity
of life, like,
its preposterous pointlessness.
Not just like,
"Oh, it's a powerful drug,
and you can make a lot
of people laugh,
and it feels great
to make people laugh.
Comedy can save your
fucking life.
I think artists are,
you know, brave people,
but we're fucked up,
and, like...
You know,
it's the difference between,
like, us,
and the guy who, you know,
kills a whole bunch of people,
you know, is not that wide.
It's very small.
I don't believe you have
to be miserable to be funny,
but I do believe you have
to be miserable
to be really funny.
I hate to say it, I really do,
I just think you're funnier
when you're miserable.
I think you are,
I think it's funny.
You laugh at how miserable
you were,
but I think that's
what makes you laugh,
'cause you're just going,
"This is awful,
my life is awful."
And then you're like,
"Wait, my life is awful,"
and you're like,
Yeah, that was awful,
and that was bad.
And then you're,
like, you're through
your whole Mead notebook of,
like, all these... "Oh, my God,
that was awful, too."
And you get excited
how awful things were
because that feeds you,
it feeds the beast.
So, sadly, I would...
I don't know,
I think... I think,
Yes, you have to be miserable
to be funny.
But there's ways
you can turn it on and off,
and the older you get,
you'll figure
how to enjoy parts of your life.
Yeah, I wish I had
a better answer.
So sad.
It's so true, oh, my God.
Cut, great.
Genius, perfect.
What does everyone say?
What does everyone say?