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- Posted on Mar 12th 2010 7:00PM by David Grossman
How would you describe your comedy?
Well, it's real. It's mostly things that happen to me, it could be silly, smart and juvenile at the same time. I like to think those things, but it sounds so pretentious when you say it out loud. Really, what it is, it's what makes me laugh. Things don't make it onto the stage if I didn't laugh when I thought of it.
Who are you comedic influences?
Yeah, there's a million of 'em, not that you would see it on stage. Steve Martin, going back to stand-up days. He was the first one I was really into. He was the first guy I memorized. I don't think his act is really similar to what I do -- definitely the silly, juvenile part comes from him. I don't think there's any one comic you can look at and see me clearly influenced in my act, I'm just influenced by what I love. There's a million different comics -- the guys I grew up with, the guys I did research on, Lenny Bruce, Bob Newhart, Richard Pryor, the obvious ones that everyone should like if you're in comedy. Then there are the guys who were popular when I was first going on stage, [Sam] Kinison and [Andrew] Dice [Clay]. When I moved to San Francisco my biggest influences were my peers, guys like Greg Proops, Jake Johannsen. And then all my friends -- Patton Oswalt, Dave Attell, Louis C.K. So I'm constantly influenced, I love comedy.
When did you first decide to do stand-up?
I was twenty, and not sure what I wanted to do with life. I had thought about being a journalist, wanted to go to school for that, had thought about being in radio so I kind of dabbled with that. I was leaning towards one of those two, either way -- the idea of writing for Rolling Stone. Not that great of a student, didn't care about a lot of those other things I was supposed to care about. And then friends ... the common thing of a friend telling you you could actually do this. I never thought it was something I could do. Before I could even get into a comedy club, I called all these places in Sacramento and found because I wasn't 21, I wouldn't be allowed into any of these comedy clubs. So I started working on my act while I was still 20. The week of my 21st birthday, I got on stage for the first time.
You've done Bonnaroo before, now SXSW. What's it like being a comedian at music festival?
It used to be weird. I did one of the Lollapalooza's mid-'90s. This woman we knew organized a comedy tent at the Los Angeles Lollapalooza and it was a nightmare. People didn't know what to expect, didn't even know we were going to be there. You could barely hear the comedy because the music was so loud. Just a bad, bad idea. But at its core, it was a smart idea. People who like indie music do have a sense of humor and there was a place for it. It was just never organized well. I think now, people know how to do it right. There's definitely a place for it.
What's in your festival survival kit?
Yeah! I'm part-vampire, German and Irish, so because of that I catch on fire when I'm outside. Be totally hydrated, and stay out of the sun as much as possible, especially as I get older. Also, maybe don't drink beer at 11 in the morning?
That's a novel idea.
Yeah, I have friends who don't follow that one. They might have a better time than me, but they're feeling awful when I'm feeling great. I keep my refreshments herbal.
Everyone knows you love metal. Do you have any musical guilty pleasures?
Yeah! It's really great you ask me that, I only talk about metal in interviews. That's all people ask me about. I don't listen to too much mainstream stuff, Muse made it through a couple years back, I really like them. If the Pixies play in town, I'll do whatever I can to see them. My favorite band of all time is not metal at all. I've seen Rush more then any other band. [Gestures with hands]. Here's Rush, here's heavy metal, below Rush. I'm probably one of the biggest Rush fans you'll ever meet.
If you had to pick one of the metal Big Four (Megadeth, Metallica, Anthrax and Slayer), which would you pick?
That's really tough. Who's forcing me to do that?
The collective force of Spinner.com, that's who.
[Laughs] I listen to all four of those bands a lot, practically every day. It's a tough one for me, I go back and forth. Metallica I always say because they have four perfect records. I think they've done the best work of everybody. They're the most famous, obviously, but those first four records are perfect. I wouldn't say that about any of those other bands. Slayer comes close, they have three.
What's the craziest thing you've seen or experienced on tour?
You mean on my tour?
Yeah, let's stick with your tours.
OK, because I was going to go with things I've seen at metal shows. At one of my shows? It just doesn't get that crazy at a comedy show.
Who was your first celebrity crush?
God ... it might be Farrah [Fawcett]? Yeah, I think it is. I was like nine or 10 years old and didn't even know what to do with my body parts at that point.
Anyone you're looking forward to seeing at SXSW?
I know Priestess is playing a show opposite mine. I'm very excited about my own showcase. As soon as I get offstage, I'm gonna grab a whiskey or two and enjoy Voivod. Because I'm a new dad, I don't get to hang out as much as I used to.
David Grossman is a contributor from Seed.com. Learn how you can contribute here.