Although he primarily identifies as a stand-up comic, Joe DeRosa has a multi-faceted career that goes well beyond performing live. As an actor, he’s been seen on Better Call Saul, Inside Amy Schumer and Louie. As a writer, his work was featured within The Pete Holmes Show and Wet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Camp. As a host, his first credit of note was Uninformed on Sirius Satellite Radio alongside Bill Burr in 2006, and he launched the We’ll See You In Hell podcast earlier this year on the Fangoria Podcast Network. Otherwise, Joe has directed – including 2011’s Cheat, which was adapted into a book the following year– and also pursued music.
In advance of Joe’s shows at Gotham Comedy Club on Dec. 18 and 19 – two shows on Friday and three shows on Saturday – I had the pleasure of conducting some Q&A with him for Downtown. While headlining five shows at Gotham is a big deal, Joe is in a small class of comics that have performed live at Madison Square Garden; he opened for Bill Burr at the Garden last month. For more info on Joe’s various projects in the meantime, click on over to www.joederosacomedy.com.
When you began as a comic, did you also have aspirations of acting?
Joe DeRosa: I did, but I didn’t think it was realistic since I couldn’t get arrested on stage as an actor during my college years. And I was a theater minor. I’m happy to say I now have more professional credits than the professors that wouldn’t cast me in any plays back then. Is that petty? Probably. But who cares? It feels good inside.
A lot of people involved with Better Call Saul have been comics. What do you think it is that makes the majority of comics such great actors?
J: I think comics are sometimes good at acting because both trades require someone to be natural. As a comic, you deliver a monologue every night in front of an audience and, somehow, sell it as if you’re just coming up with it on the spot. That practice helps greatly when analyzing a TV or film script.
You’re also known to be a musician. Do you have an album in the works?
J: I do! My friend Paul Chell and I have a band called Salsa Windfall. It’s weird electro-punk-pop music. Kind of equally influenced by Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart and Gary Numan and Kool Keith. The album’s called Artificial Birth. We’re gonna release it for free really soon. I’m super-excited for people to hear it.
Your long-time friend Bill Burr is known to be a drummer. Do you and other comics ever get together to play music?
J: No. We drink.
You’re also known to be a podcaster, re-launching a new show with the Fangoria Podcast Network earlier this year. Do you listen to podcasts beyond making them?
J: No. I drink.
Is there a podcast that you look at as the right way of doing things, in terms of having a great business model along with a great show?
J: I think the best podcasts are the ones that tackle specific interests. Whether it’s movies, music, interviews, or accounting. To me, specificity is key in building an audience in the podcast world.
Given all of the projects you’ve worked on beyond directing and writing, do you primarily identify as a stand-up?
J: Yes, 100 percent. It’s the catalyst that opened every door for me. It’s also my first love. To me, there’s nothing more enjoyable, straightforward, pure and rewarding than stand-up.
Do you ever feel overwhelmed with how many media you have to regularly be funny on, between stand-up, podcasts, social media and other people’s projects?
J: Not really. I think that demand is just an illusion. You can either buy into it or not. Comics are artists like any other. I don’t expect Beck to sing every time I hear him in an interview. I think just being honest in the moment and acting like yourself is all you need to do. Tough shit if someone wanted a “different version or more entertaining version” of you.
Was there any blowback from your tweet about Josh Homme’s resemblance of an Avatar character?
J: Zero. I don’t think anybody even saw it. Was it mean, by the way? I felt kind of bad afterward, but then I thought about that Jimmy Kimmel Live “Mean Tweets” segment and thought it was all in good humor. I love Queens Of The Stone Age so much! That’s why when I saw Avatar in the theater, the whole time I was thinking, “The blue guy looks like Josh Homme.”
Per your latest blog post, when did you first realize that chivalry was dead?
J: I’ve always thought it was. Courtesy is alive, as well as it should be. But courtesy transcends gender. As far as a man “taking care of the little lady?” That’s sexist, condescending and, ultimately, just some guy’s dirty ploy to get laid. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for picking up checks, opening doors, and offering my coat when it’s cold. But I’d do that for most of the guys I know, too – including the coat thing.
When you’re not busy with your career, how do you like to spend your free time?
J: I think I might have said this already, but I drink. Not like “Buchowski-whiskey-bottle-in-the-top-desk-drawer” or anything. But I’m a big believer in blowing off steam when the work is done. What’s more fun than hitting a bar with your friends or having a party at your place or going to a concert and tailgating? Nothing. Literally nothing. People that don’t do that stuff get their kicks in juice bars and on hiking trails. Yuck.
Finally, Joe, any last words for the kids?
J: Don’t trust any person who’s sober that never had an alcohol-abuse problem. If they had a past issues with booze and had to give it up, fine. I get and respect that. But a sober person that never had a problem to begin with? That’s a person that looks at this world and thinks, “Looks good to me! Don’t need to fog that up at all!” That’s an overly-optimistic, aloof, dishonest asshole.
-by Darren Paltrowitz