Photo by Stephen Seebeck.
No intro necessary.
You have a string of shows coming up, and I wanted to know what’s different about this set of standup?
I did a special last year, and I shot it in Seattle at the Moore Theatre, and it’ll be on TV this year. And I’m very proud of it, it’s called That’s What I’m Talking About. And it’s all the material, which is fun, so when people come and see me on this next leg of the tour, they’ll see the new stuff in addition to some of the older … mostly, it’s music they want to hear, ironically, because I never said I’d be touting my music as something that people wanna hear, ‘cause I’m not very good. But I write a lot of music, and they’re all irreverent, filthy songs.
The last one was about my dog and what he did to me accidentally when I was drinking one night (laughs).
It’s a famous thing. It’s whatever. It’s on the Youtube. It’s on my special, but the new special’s got like, five songs on it. I’m really happy with it, and I did about 40 minutes of standup. And every time I do standup and get out with a new kind of tour—which is, you know, a month at a time—I mean, I’m home now, so my touring kind of goes, ‘Oh, I’ll do one date here, and then’—I’m writing a book right now for HarperCollins, so I’m working around the clock getting that done for It Books, their imprint is called It Books. It’s a really cool thing, it’s a book I’m writing myself, so it’s kind of time-consuming. So then I’ll be home writing for a while, then I’ll go off and hit the ground and do a couple dates in consequence. I’m excited. I really love playing the Wilbur in Boston, and then I have one night in Halifax, of course. Everybody goes to Halifax. And then another another night in Toronto at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. So I’m playing venues that mean something to me, that I like, for the most part.
And the Wilbur’s one of my favorite theaters—one of the best comedy theaters that exists in the country.
That’s great! Do you wanna tell me a little about your book?
The book is kind of about comedy and death and how they intersect. It does have some memoir-type elements to it, which is just like, how a kid I knew in elementary school threw a pair of blunt scissors at the teacher, and they bounced off her bra. And I fell in love with her.
But there are things like that in it, and there are stories about Rodney Dangerfield, Richard Pryor, my friend Don Rickles … kind of intimate little blips of time that I lived through. It jump-cuts through time and has its own, I guess, Cloud Atlas type of way of, one moment you’re [here] and the next moment you’re there, rather than going in chronological order of ‘And then I did this, and then I did this.’ It’s more like my standup in that it’s free-associative, and I’m pretty excited about it. And they’re excited about what they’ve seen so far, that’s why they wanted to get into business with me. And that’ll come out the beginning of next year, so that’s something I’m putting a huge amount of time into. And I’m also attached to direct a movie, so we’re in the middle right now of trying to get a cast assembled, and then we’ll know what our timetable is on production and all that stuff. But in the meantime … meantime I’ve got these dates that happen February, March, April, pretty much. This leg of my tour that’s, right now, my consequential 2013 amount of time—15 dates—or-so that mean something to me. So that’s kind of what I’m plugging away at.
I know that, from your standup, you’ve said that your dad had kind of a dirty mouth? Is that right?
He did. He had a very unusual sense of humor. I’m looking at a huge picture of him right now.
Did your parents ever call you out for your language when you were younger?
Yes, my mother would always tell me to stop! I was told not to talk a certain way, and she made quite an impression on me, didn’t she? (laughs) The more that she told me not to do stuff, obviously, the more it drove me the other way. And it’s funny that that happened, but now she’s 87, and she’s a lovely person, and she lives down street. She’s like, ‘Oh Bobby, whatever you do, you and your comedy, ha ha ha!’
So now she just calls me Bobby, and thinks I’m just so funny, and who knows what Bobby’s gonna say now!
She’s come to the acceptance stage, I guess.
I think it’s past that. I think she’s gone just to complete lunacy (laughs). I don’t think she’s really on this planet anymore, but she certainly is a great person, and definitely loves me very, very much. Probably too much.
Aw. So with all your jokes that cross the line and everything, what offends you personally? What’s your line that you don’t cross?
My line that I don’t cross is stuff that I find very, very cruel. Like, not making fun of people is one thing, but I don’t look at that as—you know, it’s comedy. Make fun of yourself first. Rodney Dangerfield used to tell me that, he said ‘Make fun of you first! Yourself first, then you can make fun of the other people.’ It’s not like, make fun of somebody, it’s like, ‘Hey where’d you get that shirt?’ You know. But there’s cruelty in just the way certain people are. I actually find the news more disheartening than anything else. That’s what I have trouble watching at night, and accepting, because it’s just so painful to see how low humanity can go. So standup, for me—even watching standup—is a reprieve, it sets me free from the pain. I’d rather watch Bill Maher and Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart than watch the news. I’d rather get my news from someone who already has a perspective on, that this is really wrong.
And it’s all very painful, which is why my standup is so silly, it’s what it is really.
Now, I think I already know the answer to this question, but it’s a very important one for me to ask. Do you prefer poop or dick jokes?
That’s lovely of you to ask that question. I’m so honored. But coming from a lady I would have to … Oh man! Um, It really depends. And what’s so odd is those two areas are closely related, there’s only centimeters between those two pieces of material. Yeah, I just, it’s a really hard call. It’s a good question. I think it really depends on the time of day, how the lighting’s hitting me. I’ll write it kind of spontaneously in either of those two areas. I do spend a huge amount of time in both of them, and I’m ashamed. When I need an extra 5,000 words quickly in my book, that’s what it’s comprised of.
I think people should wear a pad, a pantyliner while they’re reading my book.
I wouldn’t even recommend it. I would recommend like, an underall, or even Spanx while they’re seeing my show.
Yeah, you never know when those surprise bodily fluids are gonna leak right out of you!
Well, not like Gallagher, so nothing goes flying out of me. I’m very, very clean. That’s the good news. So no one has to worry about that.
Alright, good to hear.
I’m wondering, are you into pranking at all? Do you have a most memorable prank that you’ve pulled or received?
No, no, I actually don’t. I’ve observed pranks, but I don’t find them funny at all. I find it to be a little civilian-esque. And though it’s funny to watch—I can enjoy it— I mean I used to host that silly video show and that had elements of it before Punk’d came into the world.
Actually, my friend Jamie Kennedy had a show before Punk’d and they would just do the same thing, they would have actors come up, and Betty White has a show right now that is the perfect, perfect example of how you do that properly. And it’s great, ‘cause it has the shield of elderly people going up and saying ‘I need your phone. Can I borrow your phone?’ and then they make those weird, long calls on it. There are times I can appreciate the professional work of it, that just as far as pranks go, I’ve been pranked before, like I was told to go to a Halloween party once, and I was the only person in costume. So when I got there, I was the joke. It’s not fun, especially if you’ve gone through high school, to be treated that way, ‘cause then high school never ends for a lot of people. And you can laugh only so much if you were the brunt of the joke. It goes back to cruelty is not one of my–cruelty is wrong. It’s almost like bullying, you know? But it’s a hard world, and I’m also able to deal with it when people do stuff like that, and just like ‘Ha ha, oh, I got it! Boy, that was a good one’, you know? Teflon builds up as time goes on.
What’s the weirdest or most untrue thing you’ve read about yourself in the media?
Well, one of them is my mother’s names were like Fernando and Esther, or something. That was just weird. Other times, you know, every couple years they say you die.
That’s not good, because then you get a call from somebody, and you go, ‘No, I’m not dead’, and then they go ‘Shucks!’, and that’s upsetting.
In Strange Days [with Bob Saget] you chased Bigfoot. What else do you believe is out there?
I think there’s aliens. They’re not aliens, I mean, we’re probably the aliens. I think there’s things out there with a little nipple-for-a-hand. That’s all I wanna do, is I wanna fist-pound something that just has a little nipple-for-a-hand. That’d be really cool to me, someone that just looks like Squidward or something.
You’ve performed at college campuses, as well, and I was wondering what the difference is performing in front of college-age audiences?
Not that much anymore. A lot of my audiences are very diverse, the demographic goes everywhere from 15 to 90, which is a real honor when people bring their grandkids and their grandparents. I literally see every age, ‘cause people have seen me do different things. It wasn’t just all Full House, it wasn’t just all standup, it’s many, many different things that they’ve seen which is a big compliment. I just did Ohio U last week, and I really loved it. I guess college audiences, in a way, are right there for you. They’re really, really listening.
They’re working all week, they’re on campus, they go to the auditorium, it’s one of the bigger shows they’re getting that year, and they give you complete attentiveness. And I think, if you’ve got that as a performer, whether you’re music or comedy or whatever you do, if you’re a public speaker, if you have an audience that’s, in a way, a captive audience, ‘cause they’re living in a college town, or they just wanna learn too, ‘cause college people are in a mode of receiving and learning … you’ve got a better audience. It’s just really a pleasure. And they’re smart, they’re relevant, for the most part. And they’re partying, that’s always true. I can always tell when I get to a place—playing the Wilbur, for example, I know who’s on booze and who’s on pot, who’s on other things.
You can tell from their response what medicine they’re on.
And how long their reaction time is.
Exactly. How long it takes, and how they say it. If they can’t pronounce it at all, it’s definitely an under-the-counter medication.
What do you and John Stamos do when you hang out?
We went out the other night. I was talking to him right before I talked to you. We really need a program to stay away from each other, is the truth. We talk about work. We actually talk about work a lot, talk about the kind of work we want to do and different projects we’re both affiliated with, things that are happening for us. And that’s kind of what we talk about. It’s a pretty thoughtful conversation when we hang out. And Thanksgiving we were at his house, and it was very, very nice. My family and his.
His mom hit on me, and my mom hit on him. It was very, very appropriate.