INTERVIEWS

Eddie Ifft: The Martin Luther King of Comedy

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imageEddie Ifft will be appearing at Rooster T. Feathers on Nov. 19th–22nd. Eddie Ifft has been called by The Onion “confrontational, dark, smart and (most importantly) hilarious, Eddie Ifft is one of the most underrated American stand-up comedians around.”

His podcast, Talkin’ Shit, has hundreds of interviews with people like Doug Stanhope and Paul Provenza. Talkin’ Shit originally started with co-host Jim Jeffries; Ifft now helms the podcast on his own terms, regularly joined by the “mongs,” including several crew members who reside somewhere within, and sometimes bordering the edge of the autism spectrum. Infamously, Talkin’ Shit is the first podcast banned by iTunes. Not to be undone, Ifft recently led a successful Kickstarter campaign to buy a small bus that would house his special crew to do live podcasts on the road in between going to gigs, but mostly going to strip joints. SUSC has been talking to Eddie for a while about creating a Surf/Comedy event . . . 2015 might be the year!

 

Eddie Ifft: How are ya?

SUSC:  I appreciate you giving me a few minutes for an interview, to help pump up the Rooster T. Feathers show in Sunnyvale.

I would like to do that, I’m not sure how tickets sell for that.

Have you been there before?

Yeah, I’ve done it a few times. I always feel like people just come to see a show and not necessarily me.

That’s why I’ve been working with them to bring awareness to the artists that they book. Do you mind if I call you an artist?

That’s fine, you can call me whatever you want.

November looks like a full month for you. You have shows every night.

Yup. It’s pretty horrible.

You’ve been in the game a while. Do you get edgy if you’re not on stage every night?

I’m at the point where I get edgy if I’m on the stage, but I used to be like that. When I was young and in the game I wanted to be on stage 12 times a night. Now it’s like, “Oh my god, I  have to go to work?” I don’t mean to totally complain–there are a million guys in the same situation as me, but I’ve been on the road 18 years. I look at somebody like Seinfeld talking about how much comedy he did. Fuck off Seinfeld, you had 8 years off for the TV show. He wasn’t getting on planes every day. He did comedy for 12 years and then had 8 years off, basically. I’ve had 18 years without a break. Guys like Bill Burr are in the same boat, I guess. The more money you make, the less you have to grind it out. In Australia I can do one night in a theatre and not have to do five nights in a club. Making as much money in one night as you make in five nights is nice. I just did Norway and Denmark. I went from van to hotel to van to airport to van to hotel to van, back to airport–it’s grueling when every day is a new city.

That’s the grind.

I shouldn’t bitch, it’s a good life.

You’re one of those guys whose name comes for being huge in Australia who is not Australian. Did you have to grind in Australia to get to that level? How did international success come to you?

Initially, I was just having fun, so I didn’t consider it a grind. I went over there and ate humble pie. I had no expectations so I went over and did any shows they would give me, just because I really wanted to be in Australia. At the time, I was getting better work here in the States and in the UK. But, I wanted to be there and people were like, “Hey, we don’t have much of a scene but you can do some pubs and bars,” and I was like, “OK.” I just wanted to go surfing. I fell in love with Australia and I think it is like anything else, and it might sound kind of hokey, but I showed my love for Australia and they gave it back to me. They began to take me under their wing because they saw “this guy loves us.” It took off from there. To be honest with you, now it’s become a grind again. Australia loves American TV and internet and if you are famous in America you are famous anywhere. Now Australians want Kevin Hart, they want Jim Gaffigan, they want all the big names from America there. The big names are monopolizing the whole world.

Is that why you went to Norway? Trying to break into a new market?

I figured out how to do comedy, anywhere. It’s not by being hacky. You have to talk to people and find out what their sensibility is. All it takes is talking to the driver as he takes you from the airport and being able to listen. You cannot be the arrogant American. A lot of American comics will come to foreign countries and be like, “We got this and you guys don’t even have that.” That kind of attitude is usually met with, “Oh yeah, you stupid American, we do have that,” and it’s usually better.

I’m not trying to put you in a box, but you’re like Stanhope and Burr, you aren’t arrogant Americans. You are a critical thinker  of American attitudes and policies. 

I’m the first to criticize America, and their country, but only after I’ve won them over. I’m an honest person and I will let them know when America fucks up. I came up during the war when there was a lot of anti-American sentiment and I would talk to them. I would be introduced like, “this next comedian is American” and the whole audience would boo me. I would get onstage and say, “I know, I know, America is so bad, this war is terrible, I am so sorry.” I would just keep apologizing and pander to them. “I’m so, so sorry. Who was in that coalition with us. . . oh, you guys! Wait a minute, you’re the guys that are doing this too.” How racist is that to pick out one person that because he is American, you’re pro-war, support bombing. . .

You’re the Martin Luther King of comedy.

(laughter) I’m going to quote you on that.

Somebody should. So here’s the thing. I did a Kickstarter this year for Comedy Day in Golden Gate Park. Are you familiar with that?

No, but I would like to be.

It’s run by Debi Durst, Will Durst and celebrates Bay Area comics like Johnny Steele and Larry Bubbles Brown. . .

I love Bubbles, “Mehhhhh”.

Exactly. My point is that people who have never done a Kickstarter do not realize that it takes a year off your life and is incredibly stressful. You, my friend, raised 60K, 10K pass your goal. That’s amazing.

It was so fucking stressful. The way the money comes in and slows down and then speeds up. It made me have a new found respect for my fans. Sometimes I just look at my fans like they’re assholes who just are mean to me and write horrible shit to me. I realized they are just the trolls, but the real fans, the ones who got behind my idea, they. . . .I swear to God the other day I was thinking of quitting, just quitting completely. But then I realized that I have a lot of people that believe in me so much that they are willing to throw me a lot of money. The whole industry may not believe in me, but my real fans believe in me and they are the ones I do it for.

So, now you have the money, hows the Binglebus coming along?

The stress is twice as difficult now. I assumed I would have a chunk of cash and go out on one of those spending sprees like like Suprmarket Showdown where you just grab as much shit as you can. A. I don’t have enough money by any means to what I really want to do. B. California has so many smog laws they are making it almost impossible for me to do.

How come every person going to Burning Man and hippie in California has a small bus? 

I’ve talked to a lot of people and they say, “you’re going to buy another bus and take the VIN numbers off that and put it on your bus.” I’m pretty sure everything they are doing is illegal.

You know, once you said that, I realized you are correct.

I could break a lot of laws to do it. Initially, when I went to get insurance, I was going to say I was going to use the bus for just getting from here to there, you know, just driving around. Finally the insurance guy, who is an employee of my dad, said to me, “you could get really cheap insurance, but if something happens, they will do an investigation and if they find out you were using the bus for business, they will not pay your claim.” He advised me not to lie. So, insurance will be $8,000 a year. I want to insure it under a commercial enterprise and there is only one company in America that will do it.

You need a sponsor to pick up the extra cost.

Ultimately, I would want to be autonomous so I don’t have anyone telling me what to do. But, it looks like down the road. . .

You got a lot on your plate. We’ve been talking for a year now about putting together a Comedy Surfing Show.

Yeah, yeah, I really want to do that. I don’t know if you know my buddy Lachlan Patterson, he just came in 2nd on Last Comic Standing, he wants to do it. Patterson and Joe Praino do a podcast about surfing and comedy called The Kooks of Comedy. We have our network of guys but its a real small market.

You want to do it down south where the water is warm. . . 

No, we’ll do it anywhere.

I was thinking of combining it with my comedy festival next October.

That would be great and awesome. But, A. how do you launch a festival and B. how do I get invited? I never get invited to these hip festivals and I don’t know why.

I’m asking you right now! You got a new DVD coming out?

Yes, working on it right now and it will probably be filmed in Seattle.

The last one was called “I love Pussy.” You have a working title for this one?

Yeah, it’s called, “How Come I Never Get Invited to Festivals!”

 

You can catch Eddie Ifft at Rooster T. Feathers in Sunnyvale on November 20th- 23rd.

 

 

 

 

Website

Interviews
10/21/2014

Comments

One response to “Eddie Ifft: The Martin Luther King of Comedy”

  1. […] Eddie has also worked as the host of Shark Week, spent a season as the ABC College Football Guy, earned a job as ‘man-on-the-street’ on the Queen Latifah Show, hosted a pilot called Strap-On for Comedy Central, and co-hosted a sports radio show on New York’s legendary WNEW. You can read more about Eddie Ifft in a recent Stand Up Santa Cruz article written by DNA here. […]

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