by Ryan Meehan
Scott Chaplain is a comedian and writer residing in Brooklyn, New York. He first began doing stand-up at the age of 17, and now at the age of 25 is a rising star on the New York comedy scene. His brutal, straightforward, and almost frightening honesty can only be topped by the totality of humor his act is capable of. He is currently a regular at clubs in New York City, was recently featured at the New York Comedy Festival, and finds himself as our guest today in this week’s version of 10 Questions.
RM: On a scale of one to ten where one is a tourist that just happens to be lost and ten is buying stamps of heroin a couple blocks away from the foot of the Bayonne bridge, how “Jersey” would you say your childhood was? Were there any members of your family who really steered you in the direction of pursuing humor as an outlet for your creative energy?
SC: Ah shit. Scale of 1-10? I’m not sure. I didn’t even notice I was ‘Jersey’ until I came to NYC, that’s when people started pointing out our differences. I have an accent I didn’t notice until I got here, I have an attitude I didn’t notice until I got here, and I say things that I didn’t know were a problem until I got here. I for sure gravitate to the Jersey and Long Island comics, even Philly and Detroit, but I really don’t know why. We just have a different way of showing love I guess? We bust balls. I don’t think I’ve ever been offended, like for real never, and I think that has a lot to do with being from Jersey…that and the fact that I come from a family of savages. Everyone in my family is funny. My Uncle Craig is probably funnier than anyone I know. But aside from everyone being funny I remember a lot of really shitty things happening, and I think that more than anything made me want to be funny…It’s just a better option than being sad or negative. Not to say I’m not negative, but I think I do it in a fun way.
RM: What was the most difficult part of getting into stand-up at what a majority of people would consider to be a young age? Conversely, what do you think was the most significant benefit of getting that kind of head start within the industry?
SC: Honestly I can’t think of a single thing that was difficult about starting at a young age. I guess it took away from experiences. I dropped out of college for this so I’ve never been to a ‘college’ party. Most of my friends are about 10 years older than me, so little things like that. You miss out on young adult stuff I guess. But the benefits are so much better. I was the ‘little brother’ for a long time to a lot of guys, and so they helped me when they didn’t have it, gave me advice when they didn’t have to. It was cool. I’m 25 which is the age most people start doing this, so it’s been great. I can’t complain.
RM: Out of all the weekly shows you have done over the past few years, which one do you think has aided the most in your development as comic? Why do you think that particular show has been so integral in the evolution of your stand-up?
SC: Every show. I feel like most people would give you that answer. For the most part you take away something from every show, so yeah any audience that lets me talk the shit I talk has been integral. Also, any show I bomb on…that helps a lot too. I’ve learned way more by eating shit than I have by doing well, but you can read that in any interview with a comic.
RM: Recently you had the opportunity to perform as a part of the Breakout Artist Comedy Series at Carolines on Broadway…Other than the history that’s associated with such a legendary club, what are some elements of that room which make it such a great venue to host stand-up? When you first stepped in front of that diamond backdrop, was it in any way intimidating even though at that point you had gotten to be relatively comfortable doing what you do?
SC: The room doesn’t smell like shit, so that’s a benefit. I don’t know, most pop up clubs or venues are grimy as hell, they try to fuck people out of money, and blah blah blah. Caroline’s is legitimate. Same goes for The Stand, and NYCC, and all those other legitimate clubs. They set the room up nice, they get asses in seats, and they respect the comics. That’s probably the best part, the people who run things actually love comedy and comics…which is somehow a rarity. I was featuring on that stage for a while before I did that Breakout Artist thing, so I had no problem stepping up there, what had me freaked out that night was the amount of family and friends that came out. It was the first time most of them ever saw me so I wanted them to know I wasn’t just jerking off this whole time. I wanted them to know I made the right choice. I’m pretty incapable of a lot of shit and I never did well in school, so it was nice to show them I was pretty not terrible at something.
RM: On the May 24th episode of “Red Eye“, there were a couple of clips where it looked like you had caught host Tom Shillue really off guard…Do you find that a lot of the comedic thoughts you have which most people might view as being “shock value humor” are really just the way you naturally present such material without the intention of being offensive just for the sake of doing so?
SC: I literally went into Red Eye with the intention of busting balls. I had no agenda, I don’t know politics, and the fuckin’ show airs at 3am. If I could’ve made fart noises with my hands I would have. I honestly assumed I’d never be asked back again so I just said whatever fell out of my face. Once we wrapped up taping the first thing they say to me was “When can we have you back?!” That’s probably a Fox News thing though…Just a bunch of psychos. But to answer the question, I swear to shit I have never intentionally tried to be shocking. I mean, if an audience is being a bunch of tight asses I might try to push them but other than that my intention is always to have an interesting opinion. I don’t want to be a contrarian, I don’t want to be the guy who says the terrible thing, but almost every time I’m on that stage people think that’s what I’m trying to do. That’s something I’m still trying to figure out. Sometimes I’m playing devil’s advocate, sometimes I’m busting balls, but a lot of the times I just want to throw out an idea no one’s heard of before. Also, too many comics try to be right and correct on stage which is fucking gross. Being right is the least interesting thing in the world to me. People know whats right and whats wrong so while you’re up there why not have fun, twist the knife into em a bit. Every comic who thinks they’re saying something important is saying the same shit everyone’s saying. Gentrification, gluten, no one gives a fuck. Oh Kanye West is an asshole? Shoot me in the face. No one is expanding on what Pryor was doing, no one is THAT honest, maybe no one wants to be that interesting. I’m not sure. I guess that’s the goal though, to take what guys like Pryor did and push it even further. How do you do that? I have no clue. Am I going to do that? I’ll probably fail so miserably. Is that gonna stop me from trying? Of course not. I don’t even know if I answered the question, I got sidetracked. Do I intend on being ‘offensive’? Well what I’m saying isn’t offensive to me, so no, I’m not trying to be offensive. Just trying to be me. That sounds cunty.
RM: How would you best describe the behind-the-scenes atmosphere of that program to those of us who are big fans of the show? Will we have the chance to see you on Red Eye again; and if so, what are the odds you’ll be in the leg chair next time?
SC: I’ll be on Red Eye again June 30th and July 14th. Everyone was relaxed, Tom Shillue might be the nicest guy on the planet, it was cool. Honestly can’t think of a single complaint. Just people in a room hanging out until they start rolling, then it gets a little robotic but that’s understandable. I liked it.
RM: Back in September of 2015, you had a chance to do one of these RoastMasters shows at The Stand NYC where you faced off against fellow comedian and Saucemaster Mike Recine…In one on one insult-based situations such as roast battles, what do you think is the key to really zeroing in on your opponent’s weaknesses?
SC: Recine is probably my best friend in comedy. So I think that plays a big part in it, you gotta have genuine love for the person you’re going against. The key to zeroing in on a weakness though? Not sure. You can’t try to be fair, or nice, or respectful. I’d do anything for Mike, he’s like a brother and I guess this goes back to the ‘Jersey’ thing but when you care about someone you show them with jabs and insults so what you saw in that tape is kind of just how we talk in general.
I guess you have to be willing to say evil shit. Do you watch wrestling? Did you see that Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair retirement match? At the end of it you can see Shawn whisper “I love you, I’m sorry” right before he kicks Ric right in the fuckin’ teeth. I think that’s what makes a great roast battle. I love you, now excuse me while I take this axe to your head.
RM: You’re going to be a part of Skankfest NYC on June 18th and 19th with some of New York’s finest comics, some of which you perform with on a regular basis…Do you prepare any differently for a festival or comedy competition than you might for a set at a club, or do you try not to overthink it and just keep everything business as usual? What are you looking forward to most about that event; and who are a few of the comedians that you can see being really in their element this weekend and having breakout performances?
SC: Ah those Legion of Skanks guys are great. I remember being in high school and going on the Cringe Humor website that Patrick Milligan started up. I found out about all my favorite comics from sites like that, and I think Skanks is an extension of what comics like that did. Patrice, Burr, Louis, Norton, Dipaolo, Giraldo. Anyone from Tough Crowd. My heroes. And I think something like Skankfest is the closest we’ve gotten to something like that. Just authentic Stand Ups in one place.
I’m gonna go in same as I always do, I just think the audience might be a little more receptive. Gonna be a lot of ghouls out that weekend. I’m looking forward to the stage time, to the hang, to seeing guys like Stanhope and Big Jay. All of it. Breakout Performances? Hmmm. I think everyone’s gonna do well. Tim Dillon will shine for sure. Nick Mullen is one of my favorites. Petey Deabreu is a killer. Greg Stone. Noah Gardenswartz. And those are just guys some people might not be familiar with. Monsters. I don’t know, the lineup is stacked. Normand, Metzger, Morril. It’s gonna be silly.
RM: Taking a quick look at your Twitter and Facebook feeds, just about everything you’ve posted on that site has primarily been for promotional purposes…Is there any reason you don’t find yourself utilizing social media to broadcast any amusing thoughts you might have throughout the day? Is the decision to refrain from constantly putting stuff out there based more on your desire to transform those ideas into bits that you can use on stage, or to avoid the over-saturation of the interactive media landscape?
SC: I just don’t like the internet. Facebook, Twitter. I know people use it and that’s cool and for sure beneficial but I just don’t like it, so I’m not gonna do something I don’t like. Twitter to me is almost always clever and never funny. Which isn’t what makes me laugh. I don’t care about stringing words together and being quirky. I don’t wanna hear a funny line about every single thing that happens. It just doesn’t interest me. I like Stand Up. So I’m gonna focus on that. Oh, and that’s not to say I don’t go on Facebook. I love watching my friends fight with each other on the internet. But the actual statuses, I don’t care for those.
RM: When I went to type “Scott Chaplain official website” I got to “Scott Chaplain o” and the first thing that auto-populated under Google was “Scott Chaplain obituary”. Let’s say for the sake of conversation you were to die ten years to the day from when you’re answering this question…As a realist, what would you expect to be in that obituary? Ideally speaking, how would you like that newspaper clipping to read?
SC: The first thing to come up was ‘Scott Chaplain Obituary’? Yeah, that’s my father. He’s doing better than me even in death. What do I think my obituary will say? As a realist? I don’t know. I’d like to think I’ll be really succeeding at this. So I hope it talks about that. That I was a family man? That I was myself, always. That I was kind. I’d like that, to be perceived as a good guy. I have no idea. Ideally? That I died surrounded by loved ones, 2 million loved ones. That the President goes on TV and talks about me. That people find out I died and start killing themselves because they don’t want to live in a world without me. Something like that. Maybe I sacrificed my own life for the rest of humanity. Maybe I’ll be assassinated. That could be cool.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2016 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
SC: Club spots, bar spots, road work, writing more. I’ll be on Red Eye again. Hopefully other stuff. Filming a roast battle for Comedy Central that they’ll air at some point this summer. Unless they edit me out. That’ll be fun. Or a disaster. Just trying to get better. I definitely gotta do that.
Scott on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/scott.chaplain.7
Scott on Twitter: https://twitter.com/scott_chaplain
Link to click if you want to go to Skankfest, and you fucking know you do: https://www.facebook.com/Skankfest-761392500627631
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