Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel comes out on DVD today, but you already knew that. You're such a connoisseur of squeakquels. There's nary a squeakquel that you let pass by. You have a whole separate wing in your home theater dedicated to your vast and ever-growing squeakquel collection. Anyway, when you're at the DVD store adding to your squeakquel library today, might I suggest also picking up a copy of Joe Rogan: Talking Monkeys in Space? It's the finest non-squeakquel purchase you'll make all day.
While you mull that over, here's an interview Joe was kind enough to do for us.
Who are your biggest comedic influences?
Richard Pryor, Sam Kinison and Bill Hicks. Pryor because he was such a comedic genius, and because he was the first guy I ever saw do a real uncensored set. When I was a kid my parents took me to the movies and we saw "Live On The Sunset Strip." I think I was 12 or 13 at the time, and I can still very clearly remember being blown away at how funny it was. I remember looking around at the audience, seeing people falling out of their chairs laughing, and thinking how incredible it was that this guy was just standing there by himself talking into a microphone, and it was funnier than any other movie I had ever seen. That was the first time the seeds of comedy were planted into my head.
Sam Kinison was the second, because he was so raw, and the shit he was saying was so crazy and controversial that it changed my ideas of what comedy could be. When I saw his HBO special and he was doing his bit about starving children in Africa saying we should send them uhauls to move where the food is, and that "we have deserts in America too, we just don't live in them, Asshole" my jaw dropped and my perceptions changed. I had never seen comedy like that before, and it was really exciting. It was dangerous, (I think I was 19 when I saw it) and it really appealed to me.
Hicks was the first guy that really made me think. I don't think he was as "funny" as Pryor or Kinison, but he took things to another new place. A place of deeper thinking and a place of evolving ideas. His comedy was the first comedy I had ever seen that made me want to re-evaluate the way I was thinking and actually altered how I perceived the world.
When did you decide to become a comedian?
I was talked into it by my friends Steve Graham and Ed Shorter. They were my friends and training partners from my Tae Kwon Do school, and I would always make them laugh with my stories about girls I was dating or my impressions of our friends. I never really had any aspirations to do it professionally, but I really loved making them laugh. They convinced me that I had a talent for it, and that I should go to an open mic night and try it onstage.
What was your worst gig?
I hosted a "Jack and Jill" strip club in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Jack and Jill means a girl strips and a guy strips. The idea was supposedly set up to appeal to couples, and they had one guy and one girl dancer for the entire night. They went up in shifts, and in between these sad fucks taking their clothes off and faking enthusiasm I would go onstage and tell my shitty jokes. It was a beautiful disaster.
What was your best gig?
No one show stands out, but I've been very fortunate to have cultivated the coolest fans in the world. It really doesn't matter if it's NYC or Dallas or Boston or wherever – if the people come out and they're excited to see me, I'm excited to perform, and the gigs are fun as fuck. I couldn't possibly be happier.
If you weren't a comedian, what would you be doing?
I would either be some other kind of an artist, or I would be involved in some sort of non-violent crime.
What's the funniest thing you've ever seen on the internet?
Tim and Eric did a video called "Dance Floor Dale." It's the weirdest, funniest fucking thing I think I've ever seen online.
What's the funniest thing you've ever seen in real life?
One night at the comedy store my friend Joey Diaz had slipped backstage while this horrible comedian was on. She was an old stripper that had inexplicably gotten passed as a paid regular a decade ago and was still waiting to get her first laugh. She would always go on late at night, and for the unfortunate comics that would be scheduled after her it was a mark of death. It's tough to keep a small crowd in that place after 1am, and when this chick would get up and tell her painfully bad jokes it was a sure bet to empty the joint every time. Joey took his clothes off, and stood behind the curtain. He was 300lbs, and his balls looked like grapefruits in an old lady's pantyhose. When she hit her punchlines he opened the curtain behind her, stuck his tongue out and danced naked. The laughs were HUGE. She had no idea he was there, and she had this glint in her eye like she was finally getting the response she deserved. She started telling the audience how other audiences sucked, but that "you guys get it." No one in the audience said a word to her about it, and to this day she has no idea he was back there. It was seriously one of the funniest fucking things I've ever seen.
How do you think comedy will change in the coming years?
It will evolve like our culture evolves. If you go back and watch comedy from decades ago most of it doesn't hold up very well. That's because it's growing and evolving just like our movies and our television shows. All culture evolves, and comedy is one of the best examples of that.
What's your advice for someone just getting into comedy?
Write every day. Force yourself to sit down and write. Read as much as you can. Perform every time you get a chance, and record and review all your sets. Comedy is a long and arduous process but the successful end result is one of the most satisfying things in life. To make a career crafting ideas and honing them to the point where people pack the house to come see you perform is truly an amazing thing. To make people laugh and feel better for a living is one of the most amazing ways to spread good energy through art. I truly couldn't imagine ever giving it up, and I fucking love every minute of it.
After the jump, you can see a couple clips and an embeddable widget from Talking Monkeys in Space.