Joe DeRosa [Interview]

For fans of comedy, Joe DeRosa is staple to say the least. And for damn good reasons too. He is one of the funniest people in the world of stand up comedy right now. I will arguably put up his special, You Let Me Down, up against some of the most legendary comedy specials of all time. I’d be willing to digitally fight anyone who doesn’t believe it is a special that ranks up there with Chappelle’s For What It’s Worth! But, the only comparison that would be correct to make between the likes of DeRosa or Chappelle, is that they are both truly original comics in their own right. A Joe DeRosa comedy performance is always something that will be like nothing else you have ever experienced. He is the real fucking deal folks, and we are so honored that he was willing to share a few words with us as we wrap up this wonderful week of showcasing some amazing comedians.

So let me stop this hack bit of an intro, and let you all get to reading this amazing interview with comedy legend Joe DeRosa! Enjoy!

When did you first realize you were a hilarious human being, and stand up comedy was a way for you to take a natural talent and use it to earn a living?

The hilarious part I’m still trying to realize. As for stand up, I knew I was somebody who had a lot of opinions and I knew I wanted to yell them at people. Watching George Carlin let me know that you could do that. Making them funny was always–and still sometimes is–a necessary evil.

I understand you came up into the game in Philadelphia with folks like Big Jay Oakerson, also the home of the legendary Dom Irrera, a couple of decades before you. In the standing of cities for comedy, how do you believe Philly ranks? What was it like coming up around there?

Philadelphia was the best place I ever could’ve started. I was one of the only non-black comedians in an all black, urban comedy club called the Laff House. The challenge of getting on stage and commanding a room was amplified by the fact that I was so culturally different. It was an amazing experience. Comics like Turae Gordon and the Legendary Wid (my mentors) taught me the tricks of the trade that I still use to this day. I’ll never forget them or that club.

Much like your old pal Bill Burr did with Breaking Bad, you have stepped into the wild imagination of Vince Gilligan as well in the equally fascinating show Better Call Saul. How has this experience been for you, and what do believe it is about Gilligan’s writing style that leads itself to be able to have professional comedians perform in a dramatic fashion?

It’s such a thrill to work on Saul. Vince is the best! Jonathan Banks is the best! Every scene with him is a crash course in acting. Bob Odenkirk was a comedic idol of mine when I started out, so working on his show is an honer. They’re all so amazing. Vince writes completely real situations, characters, and dialogue. When Comedy is right, it’s real. So comedians appearing on that show makes a lot of sense to me.

So, I am actually a recent transplant to the UK, if you didn’t know, or care. I am planning on attending the Fringe Festival for the first time, this summer. I know you were there last year for some gigs, so what should I look for and be excited to see while I am there? What was this experience like for you working as an American comedian?

I didn’t know, but I do care. Fringe is a terrific, enlightening experience. Just dive in head first and see everything you can. The diversity is amazing. Also, you’re going to drink A TON. I had a blast over there. I was there, performing every night, for the month leading up to the taping of my special. Doing that material in front of audiences I wasn’t familiar with improved my hour in ways I never could have imagined.

What are some of the best green room snacks you have been provided in all of your years as a stand up? What are some of the best pre-game supplies that could be provided before a show?

Give me some coffee, water, beer and whiskey backstage and we’re good. Keep that goddamn deli tray. I eat before I show up to the gig.

In your obviously professional opinion, do you believe we are in a sort of golden age for comedy right now? Is there a possible over-saturation problem, or is it better that more opportunities are out there for comedians?

I think it’s a good time for comedy, but far from the Golden Age, especially since so many comics play it safe and say the same stuff as the next guy. I don’t really see multiple acts pushing the envelope like they had in the ’70s. To me, that was the Golden Age. We have tons of opportunities now, which is great. I just wish more people utilized them more interestingly.

What sort of advice would you give to the avid comedy show attendee? And what do you believe it is that makes some people unable to not just sit down and shut the fuck up? Is it only alcohol, or some sort of psychological thing?

My advice would be to have fun and shut up, which you’ve already addressed. There’s that old psychology class scenario where they discuss a person being robbed on a street, all the residents watching from their windows, yet nobody calling the police for help until someone else does it first. It’s the same thing with hecklers. They wanna be the daring hero (like the comic) but need to see someone do it first (the comic) and that then gives them the balls to attempt becoming the center of attention. It never works though, which is good. Fuck them.

So what is next for you? Anything you would like to plug to our fine reader(s)?

Always wanna plug the podcasts: We’ll See You In Hell on the Headgum Network and Emotional Hangs on Feral Audio. Also, go get my special on iTunes! It’s called You Let Me Down.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Jay Mohr, graciously per my request, doing an impression of Joe Pesci instructing on how to bake a Christmas ham. I cried. It’s on this ep of his pod if you wanna check it out:


Check out this clip from Joe’s most recent, and damned hilarious Comedy Central Special, You Let Me Down:

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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