by Ryan Meehan
Comedian Tom Shillue is set to release a live comedy album titled TOM SHILLUE: BETTER STRONGER FASTER on November 6. And then he’s going to release another in December, and then another in January- in all, 12 albums in 12 months. Tom’s ambitious “12 in 12″ project will feature a new comedy album with a different theme every month for an entire year. The digital releases will be available via BSeen Media on iTunes, Amazon, and on tomshillue.com
A former correspondent on The Daily Show, Tom Shillue has appeared in his own Comedy Central Special, on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, a recurring role on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Last Comic Standing, and in the feature film Mystery Team. Tom is also a regular guest on FoxNews program RedEye with Greg Gutfeld. Tom’s wildly successful storytelling show “Funny Story” is a monthly highlight in NYC where guests have included Jon Glaser, Bobby Tisdale, John Mulaney, Jessi Klein, Lisa Delarios and more. A regular tourmate with Jim Gaffigan, The New York Times has called Shillue “Inspired,” the New York Post said, simply, “Brilliant,” while BrooklynVegan hails Shillue is “One of the best there is.” Backstage named Tom the Top New York Comic, saying “There isn’t anything Shillue can’t do.” Tom also holds two ECNY Awards: Best Storyteller and Best Solo Show, and he’s our guest today in 5 Questions.
FOH: Your bio says that the comedic stories that you tell about growing up in the Northeast “are so normal, they are radical”. What do you mean by that? How was your childhood and teenage years?
TS: I was a happy kid. Nice upbringing- suburban Massachusetts, Catholic, altar boy, Boy Scouts. That title is kind of a joke about one person shows- they’re always about pain, or alienation, or darkness/fear. I don’t really bring that stuff to the table. Not everything in theater has to be heavy. My show is simple- they are true stories about my life, so I thought I do a take on that with the title- kind of making fun of the typical solo show.
FOH: Here at FOH, we are huge fans of “Red Eye with Greg Gutfield” on Fox News Channel…I watched you in Andy Levy’s seat on Tuesday night, and then Wednesday night you were the host…What’s more challenging to you, hosting the show or doing the pregame, halftime, and postgame reports?
TS: It’s so interesting- hosting is high pressure, yes, but I actually think doing Andy Levy’s job is harder. You have to have a very organized mind… you have to watch the show and listen and think of places where the guests can be challenged on facts, and then you have to quickly do a little research for backup. Then you are in control of the whole segment for six or seven or eight minutes for the halftime report. It’s a lot of pressure.
But I think I’m getting better at it, just as I am with the host- it’s really just trying to keep several balls in the air. It reminds me of when I was first waiting tables. I was always in the weeds, and all the other waiters seem to know what they were doing. And I couldn’t believe that I could ever master something like that! Sure enough, well, to tell you the truth I never became a great waiter, but after year so I stopped being constantly in the weeds. So doing Redeye is like waiting tables.
FOH: What’s the most unusual thing that ever happened to you while onstage? If you could go back and change the outcome, would you have done it differently?
TS: Oh my. I have had some serious close calls on stage. When you do stand up comedy, you find yourself in some pretty sinister rooms sometimes, and I have literally… I had my opening act back the car up to the exit door so when I get off stage we could drive the car quickly to safety. If someone heckles me onstage, I tend to go for the jugular. It’s the only way you can shut certain people up. It’s kind of like breaking a horse – you have to show that horse who’s boss.
TS: Recently I was doing a private engagement, a very nice dinner party at a big home in Connecticut, and somebody in the audience started heckling me. He was drunk. This guy was probably a CEO, or a very powerful lawyer, or heart surgeon or something like that but I could not let him get the best of me- I had to bring him down and I did. I brought him down to size right there in front of his trophy wife, and he got very upset and we almost came to blows right there- there are people in black ties and cocktail dresses in the room, this is a very high-class affair, and we are two guys literally about to fight. They drag the drunk CEO out, and he was ejected from the party and I went on with my comedy. These are the things that happen when you’re trying to make a couple of extra bucks.
FOH: When it comes to your writing process, do you have a specific technique that you use? Do you set aside a certain time of the week to do that, or do you just experience funny things in your life that you are able to turn into bits?
TS: I used to set aside a writing time, but now I just work things out on stage. I’ll think of an idea, and just go on stage and try it out. Not a good idea for beginners, its really best to write and edit obsessively before taking it up on stage- I think after years in the business it’s something I’ve earned!
FOH: What has standup comedy taught you that you wouldn’t have learned had you gone into any other profession? What would you do for a living if you weren’t a standup comedian?
What would I do if I wasn’t doing standup comedy? I think I should ask my wife that question. what you think?
She says she knows I love business and she thinks I would love to start a business of my own because I’m always obsessing over business and reading the Wall Street Journal. But she just said to me that ultimately, I’m an artist, and she doesn’t think I’d be comfortable if I wasn’t doing something “in the arts.”
FOH: What’s next for Tom Shillue in the twelve months that follow? Any big plans?
Well I’ve got the “12 Albums in 12 Months” project. I’m releasing an album a month for a year. that is keeping me busy until September. Album Number 3 is out in January. They are all being released digitally on iTunes and on tomshillue.com, and all are selling for $1.99
This project is taxing me to the limit of my abilities and I’m having an absolute blast doing it. That, along with the Redeye appearances and doing regular stuff on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon is keeping me busy.
Ill be touring the south with Jim Gaffigan in March. You can check the cities and dates on his website. Come to think of it I should probably put them on my site as well.
Official Website: http://tomshillue.com
Tom Shillue on Facebook: facebook.com/shillue
Tom Shillue on Twitter: @tomshillue
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