Dave Anthony [Interview]

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I am desperately obsessed with stand up comedy. I’m not certain if this has been made perfectly clear here, as I’ve only showcased a few comedians thus far. But, I really love the medium, and I find the folks involved to be the most interesting people alive. And Dave Anthony is one of the best in the business, whether you feel like you know him or not. He’s a pretty damn hilarious guy, and he also happens to be a very important figure on one of the greatest television shows to have aired in the last 20 years.

For the last 4 years, Dave Anthony has portrayed, well, Dave Anthony, in the amazing IFC comedy Maron, which is semi-based on well, Maron. Dave plays a “friend” of Marc Maron’s character, well, Marc Maron (alright, I’ll stop that, but it did work, right?). But, most importantly, he is a brilliant stand up comedian, which is what he will always will be, and should be, primarily known as. His chops as a stand up has made him a genius writer for television, and a genius in whatever he takes up in the world of being fucking hilarious.

Most importantly, he is fucking hilarious, and should be noted as such. So, please enjoy some wonderful words from what might very well be one of my favorite interviews I have done to date. I sincerely mean this. I really do admire this man, and I adore his work. And you definitely should as well! And after a the following words, I’m certain you will. Or maybe you won’t. Fuck it. Just read. Reading is good. Enjoy!

 

When did you realize you were meant to be a stand up comedian? What inspired you to join such a dark yet relentlessly hilarious way of life?

I have never wanted to be anything else. From as young as I can remember, I was trying to get my parents to let me watch stand up comedy. As I got older, I would try to stay awake to make it through Saturday Night Live, so I could watch Evening at The Improv. I didn’t have the greatest upbringing, so making people laugh was a big deal. And I think the poor upbringing gave me a darker outlook and allowed be to learn how to make stuff like that funny.
As just a simple fan of stand up, I am always hearing that we may be in the “Golden Age of Comedy”. Do you believe this to be true?

No, not even remotely. I guess you could say it’s the Golden Age in the sense that a lot of comedians are doing it and are funny. But who is talking about anything important. It’s mostly people talking about ghosts and watermelons. Not much that really truly matters. The alternative comedy world, as it used to be called, was created because comics wanted to get away from the clubs, do more interesting things, and talk about subjects that were unapproachable in a club. Now alt comedy is mostly people talking about things that have no substance. Or they are being weird. I’m fine with the weird but it’s disappointing to see the direction alt comedy has gone in. Mainstream comedy has and will always have the problem of not truly being able to tackle a subject. And when a comic does, he really breaks through. Chris Rock is a great example.

So, no, I don’t think this is a Golden Age. I think it’s a wasted opportunity. Much more is being done overseas with stage time.

I love to hear heckle stories, as I know for a fact that it is something I could never deal with. So, what is our favorite heckler situation? And do you have a tale of when you tore down a heckler, and/or a time when one got the best of you?

I’m never good at these stories. For a long time I was really horrible at dealing with hecklers when I first started. I would go from zero to enraged and it wasn’t funny. Just me insulting people. When I went to New York, I really learned how to shut them up and fast. I guess the best story was when I was at Comic Strip Live in New York. There were a few guys at a table being really loud. Insulting all the comics. I was going on later, so I had to watch these guys ruin the show and no one was doing anything about it. The comics weren’t saying anything, the bouncers weren’t doing anything. It was very weird.

So, when I go up onstage, I just rip into these guys. Really, really tore into them. Then when I got off stage, I was informed they were in the mafia. As they came out of the room, I was sitting in a booth, and they made a comment to me. I wasn’t the type to back down then, even when facing someone who could seriously hurt me. I called them “animals.” Probably not the best move.

They attacked me, trying to hit me, next thing I knew, I was on top of the table, kicking at their heads and the bouncers were breaking it up. They then were taken out. I stayed in the club until it closed. When I left they weren’t outside and I never heard anything else about it.

Random ass question: I know you have written for The Talking Dead, and are a huge zombie fan. We just spoke with John Migliore, who has famously performed a zombie over 30 times and in every “of the Dead” movie to come out in the last 20 years or so. So, same question for you…why zombies? What appeals to you when it comes to zombies? Is there a possible philosophical reason for this?
I’m fascinated with end of times situations. It may have been how I was raised, sort of figuring everything out on my own. There’s a fantasy part to it, envisioning myself out there, fighting for survival and being the one who could do it. It’s sort of the opposite of super heroes, right? They come in and save the world. The world is already toast and I’m just trying to make it. Oh, it’s my childhood.

Your role in Maron is without a doubt one of the finest supporting acts I have ever seen. Just fucking perfect, really. And then you found yourself as a writer on the show!? How did you land this role and eventual writing gig? Where you friendly with Marc prior to show, as I can only assume you were based on your on screen dynamic?

Wow. Thanks. I am always surprised to hear that considering how long I struggled in show business. Marc first brought me in as an actor for one show in season one. The producers really like how we worked together and talked about bringing me back in Season One but it didn’t work out. For Seasons Two, Marc wanted someone in the room who was a comic, could write, and had a, as he calls it, “curmudgeon attitude.” Also, he wanted a guy who had been on the road for a long time and maybe not had all that much success. Me! So, I was brought in as writer and because of our relationship in the writer’s room, tossing jokes back and forth, I ended up being in the show more.

I have known Marc since 1992. Yeah, the relationship is a heightened version of our real life one.

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When you look back on your time during this show, what would you say you are most proud of, if anything? Now that it is all over, what do you think of your work and the product over all?

The episode called “Racegate.” I think a lot of shows try to tackle race and they end up getting scared about how to approach it, which leads to watered down nonsense. We didn’t do that. We had a lot of discussions about it. I think it was the only time I yelled at anyone in the writer’s room. I really took my time to work on that episode, locking myself away in a hotel room for a few days. I did a lot of research and learned how black comics perceived the comedy world and why it is so different from how white comics do.

It’s hard for me to look back and my work and appreciate it. I know we did something unique, grounded, and, particularly for addicts, important. I’m proud of it and don’t think I’ll be allowed to work on something that true and honest again.

Through very little research, I have come to learn that you have done some work with the USO. So, what have your experiences been with the USO? Where did you travel to?

Ha! I just did one show. In San Diego. So, I can’t really speak to that. Drew Carey asked me to go to Faluja when it was really heating up over there and I just had my kid and was too scared. How about that? Total tough guy helping out the men fighting by cowering in his Los Angeles apartment.

So what is next for you, good Sir? Anything you would like to tell our readers about?

Oh, shit. I don’t know. I’m super into my podcast The Dollop. I’m working on a pilot that never seems to get done because of the podcast. Hopefully you’ll see me on some other shows. I’ve just sort of taken it easy since Maron ended but am gearing up to get back out there now.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I coach Little League. Yesterday, during a game, I told our second baseman to take five steps backwards. The batter hit a ball, which bounced in front of the plate, then flew to the second baseman. He didn’t even have to move and caught it. Then he started celebrating. Jumping up and down and running around. Everyone started screaming at him that it was a ground ball. He ended up not getting the out. It really made me laugh. I gave him the game ball for the catch and celebration.

 

Find out more about what Dave Anthony and check out The Dollop, at daveanthonycomedy.com.

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About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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