INTERVIEWS

Joe DeRosa: “Have You Heard the One about Hawkgirl?”

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joe derosaJoe DeRosa can currently be seen on History Channel’s I Love the 1880′s, and has appeared on HBO’s Bored To Death, FX’s Louie, IFC’s Z-Rock, E’s Chelsea Lately, and DirecTV’s The Artie Lange Show. He is a regular on Sirius XM’s The Opie and Anthony Show and Fox News’ Redeye with Greg Gutfeld. He headlines comedy clubs and colleges across the country and has been featured at South By Southwest, The Montreal Comedy Festival, The Moontower Comedy Festival, The New York Comedy Festival, Bonnaroo, and The Great American Comedy Festival. Catch Joe at Sketchfest January 8th and 9th. Tickets here: http://tinyurl.com/glwetrq

 

SUSC: Who were you running with to mics in New York City?

Joe: Jay Oakerson brought me up to New York, so I hung around with him a lot. I hung around with Kurt Metzger and Rachel Feinstein. That was the general crew at that time.

Was it hard to jump from mics to clubs in New York City?

I did about a year and a half in Philly first. That was the best case scenario for mic time. The Laugh House in Philly where I started had an open mic every Wednesday night with a real audience there. There was a Thursday show called Thursday Night Hype where they would also throw newer guys on as well. Mic time in Philly was pretty good in the early days. New York City was a lot tougher, there were a lot of pay-to-play. A lot of times it was only comics in the audience. I tried to scrounge up any time in front of an audience I could at The Boston Comedy Club, at the time. Aside from that it was a lot of hanging out and waiting to get on. That seemed to be a better use of my time rather than performing in front of only comics, because I felt that comics weren’t going to laugh at the stuff that regular people were going to laugh at.

What was the jumping off point?

Somewhere around the two year mark I went to Montreal for New Faces. That led to me doing Premium Blend on Comedy Central. That was my second TV spot. My first one was Carson Daly, which was a live show in New York.

How did you get that first TV gig?

A guy named Jordan Rubin was writing for the show and saw me perform at The Boston Comedy Club and told me he thought I was funny and wanted to get me on Carson. It was a shock to me. I gave him a tape and he ended up getting me on pretty quickly.

Did you think TV was where you wanted to go?

No. I was very happy to have done it and felt lucky. But in those days it was something that scared the shit out of me. I certainly didn’t do it and think, “I got this”. I was terrified of the next time I was going to have to do it again.

Could you have carved out your career staying on the East Coast?

I think it’s different for everybody and it has a lot to do with your perspective. It’s about what opportunities you see for yourself in the city you’re in or the environment you are in. For me, things moved forward in the right direction. I got a lot out of New York and when I moved to LA it continued to grow and move forward. Who knows, with a different brain I might have figured out how to stay in New York and do it there. You have to figure out what’s going to make you feel good and inspire you to keep working hard. That’s kind of how it works.

Madison Square Garden and Carnegie Hall are pretty good accolades.

Bill Burr played those places, he just brought me with him.

What I’m saying is you have played a lot of high profile gigs. But when you are working on a new hour of material, do you always go to dive bars to try it out?

I really only try to keep the stuff that will work everywhere. It’s a painstaking process. I feel the best material will translate to most parties, I don’t mean that in sense of being broad but not being up your own ass. The goal for every comic is to have that special every few years and to have that special on television and it doesn’t do you much good to be on your hour special talking about references that people only understand in a certain part of the country. I’m not trying to make it safe for everybody, or anything like that. But in the right types of venues that I want to perform in my material should be able to work in all of those venues, no matter where they are located. That is still only a certain percentage of the big picture. You have to have certain guidelines and boundaries with your own career and with the type of comedy you do. That will determine the type of venues you play. Few comics can play every kind of place, constantly and all the time. I let my styles and interests select the sliver of the comedy scene that I am going to fit into. Then my goal is to be effective 100% in that sliver. If that makes sense. The stuff you hear from a live show is usally what you will hear on the album. But if I’m going to do a joke about Los Angeles, where I live, it will be a joke everyone in the country can get. I’m not going to be like, “Hey, you know in LA on that one street they have that building with a guy in front of it?” That kind of material to me is pointless, because who gives a fuck. It’s a balancing act. I like to reference movies in my act and comic books and things like that. But I understand the difference between referencing Batman and referencing Hawkgirl.

You have a great podcast, you’re a writer, actor and you wear a lot of hats. How often do you hit the mics? Does it increase when you are working on new material?

I go out as much as I can. It’s still my first job and my first love. Stand-up comedian is how to refer to myself before anything else. If I’m on a writing gig that prevents me from going out as much as I want to, that’s fine, I deal with it as it comes. But for the most part I’m out fairly frequently. I don’t feel the need to get up every single night just for the sake of it. I have my weekly show in LA, Creepshow. So every week I can get up and work on material for like 12 minutes. Then I do my spots, but its really a matter of what I need to work on. If I am working on a new hour, then I will be out a lot, compared to when I get the hour solid and tight. Then I don’t feel the need. Why? Get up, just to get up. There are comics newer and younger than me and need time. Let me get out of the way for them. At least I’ll be one of the people that gets out of the way for them. Like how many times can you play the song before you’re like, “Alright, I know it.” ­­

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Interviews
01/04/2016

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