by Ryan Meehan
Comedian Joe DeVito has performed on The Late Late Show, Comedy Central and Last Comic Standing. He is a regular panelist on Fox News Channel’s Red Eye w/Greg Gutfeld, sharing informed political opinions that irritate nearly everyone. And thankfully he was kind enough to stop by FOH and share some of his knowledge about comedy with us, as he’s our guest today in 5 Questions.
FOH: How did you get your start in standup and what drew you to comedy as an artform? From where you see it, is it the same as when you started?
JD: I always liked making people laugh and was a fan of standup, but it never occurred to me that it was something a normal person could try. I was working as a creative director in the corporate world and my co-workers convinced me to give it a try. I survived the first time on stage and thought, “hey, that wasn’t so bad,” and then proceeded to bomb miserably for another 18 months. Any comic who survives the first two years is either doing something right, or is too insane to know they should have quit a long time ago. At the 2-year mark, those have equal value.
When I was two years in, I started thinking “I might want to make a run at this,” without even knowing what that meant. Then I got laid off from my corporate job which put the heat on me to do it for real. I’ve been at it for 11 years now, there’s nothing like it. When you’re on stage you get to make the audience see the world the way you see it, and you get the rush of their immediate response. When it’s good, it’s transcendent. And when it’s bad, well, there’s always the snack machine outside your hotel room.
FOH: Over the summer months we’ve had Daniel Tosh get into a pretty controversial argument with an audience member at the Laugh Factory, a heckler in Jacksonville throwing a wine glass at Tammy Pescatelli, and now Eddie Griffin fighting a beverage war by dumping a bottle of water on someone who had tossed a drink at him. What’s going on here? Do club owners need to do a better job as to handling situation like this before it reaches this point?
JD: If you don’t like a comic, you can wait for the next act or pay your bill and leave. You can even complain to the management if you feel that injured. If you can only express yourself by heckling or throwing things like a chimp hurling feces, you should be TASERed immediately. One night I had a heckler jump on stage and start addressing the audience before security pulled him off. After the show he was complaining, “Well how come the comedians get to talk, and I don’t?” Because that’s the format for the evening, you moron!
There’s a segment of our society that thinks declaring themselves to be “offended” means they’re fighting the power, or some self-glorifying nonsense. All this faux outrage is a pose. You either laughed or you didn’t, that’s your vote. If you don’t like a song, you don’t get to unplug the DJ, and if you don’t like the comic you don’t get to ruin the show for everyone else.
Some people don’t understand that just because you make a joke about a topic doesn’t mean you think the topic itself is hilarious. You can make a joke about ANY topic – no matter how awful – as long as it’s good joke. The biggest impact comes from the material that hits you deep inside, in an unguarded area.
The flip side is, the bigger the risk, the better the joke has to be. There are plenty of lame comedians who think just being obnoxious is the point regardless of whether anyone laughs. Usually if a comic is asking “Too soon?” the answer is “No, just not funny. Take your horrendous 9/11-abortion-rape bit back to the drawing board and try again.”
FOH: What’s the most unusual situation that you’ve encountered while touring the country? Any really good stories we should know about?
JD: Without getting into specifics, let me just say that working the road has enabled me to seduce many women who would be otherwise out of my pay grade. Make a woman laugh and next thing you know, she’s headed back to your room at the Econolodge.
FOH: What haven’t you done in the entertainment industry that you really, really want to do? What are you going to do to make sure that you get that opportunity?
JD: For a lot of comics, the sitcom or movie deal is the Holy Grail. Maybe someday that will happen for me but right now my goal is to keep working on my craft – and please remind me I used the word “craft” the next time you hear me do a fart joke. I guess because I had no expectations when I started I don’t worry about fame or stardom, but check back with me in a few years when I’m still renting the same apartment and selling my clothes on eBay.
FOH: I love watching “Red Eye”…That show looks like it’s a lot of fun. What do you think makes a show like that more fun to watch then a show like “Comics Unleashed”? Do you ever get any grief from your liberal friends for appearing on such a conservative network?
JD: I love appearing on Red Eye since I rarely talk politics in my act and they pretty much let me say whatever I want. It’s a double-edged sword, though – my liberal friends freak out at the mere mention of FOX News, yet some viewers complain about my support for gay marriage, drug legalization, etc. Per usual, the loudest complainers are the folks who never listened to what I actually said.
My favorite moment on Red Eye: I gave my opinion on some issue and when they went to Ambassador John Bolton, who said, “I think Joe summed it up.” Here’s this brilliant man agreeing with me, and that same weekend I was appearing at Bananas Comedy Club in Jersey.
FOH: What’s next for Joe Devito in the twelve months that follow?
JD: Work out new material in the NYC rooms, hit the road clubs, try to get
another late night TV appearance. Lather, rinse, repeat. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Official Website: www.joedevito.com
Joe on Twitter: twitter.com/joedevitocomedy
Joe on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Joe-DeVito-Famous-Comedian/56394612852
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