1. Whitney Cummings
“It takes a couple years to get fuckin’ good and to figure out what your point of view is, and I feel like the best managers of women just slow their women down. For the first three years of doing comedy, [my manager] wouldn’t let me showcase for anything. He wouldn’t let me do anything. ‘Just get good,’ he said. ‘When you kill 10 times in a row, I’ll get you showcases.’”
2. Louis C.K.
“I couldn’t rent cars because I couldnt get credit for years. When I got an AMEX card, I became an idiot. I couldnt get into my apartment so I got a room at the Ritz-Carlton in Central Park, and I stayed there, like, three nights. I bought a BMW with an American Express card, and I had to give the car back. Everybody that was involved with it — the car dealer, AMEX — were like, ‘We’re gonna let you out of this, but you’re never gonna get a credit card again.’ It took me years to get a credit card. I have an AMEX card now. I don’t know how they don’t remember.”
3. Sarah Silverman
“I don’t wanna do anything I’m wishy-washy about. I just wanna do it if I love it. In the meantime, I’m gonna work on my stand-up. I have no idea what’s going to be next. I learned this in therapy: We’re just looking through a pinhole, and we dont know what the fuck’s coming up next. So instead of going; ‘Oh my god what if I never…’ You dont have to predict what’s gonna happen. What’s gonna happen will unfold. The future’s gonna happen whether you predict it or not. Everything that’s happened to you so far you have not been able to predict. That’s how it’s always been. Just stay open.”
4. Thomas Lennon
“Here was the problem with ‘The State’: We would endlessly have to apologize for some shit. There were 11 of us. There was some trouble [once] about members of the group who smoked some marijuana in the MTV offices. The people were high and singing at the top of their lungs, ‘Whyyyy cant weeeee be fernnnns!’ Then our producer came in and was, like, ‘I’m responsible for you fuckin’ guys. You can’t be smokin doob in the office!’”
5. Joe Mande
“I was morally opposed to Twitter for the longest time. I found it kind of gross and indulgent. But I joined it when I found out that senators and famous athletes interact with people. It is this weird forum where you can pretty much say anything, and there’s no real consequence. I got into a really bizarre Twitter war with a guy who used to be an MTV veejay. The funny thing was, I never said anything mean to him. I was drunk one night at a bar, and for awhile I was just re-tweeting things he wrote without commentary. Just things like, ‘I’m outside the library. It’s closed.’ Eventually he wrote back, ‘I’m gonna sue you if you keep re-tweeting me!’ I re-tweeted it and said, ‘See you in court.’ It went on for two days.”
6. Patton Oswalt
“I wish I could program my head to look at certain food as if they were crack or poison. White fucking flour. I don’t know what the fuck it is, but I cannot fucking stop. When you go to an audition or go do a show, and the show doesn’t go the way you want it to, then you go ‘Fuck, Im gonna go eat!’ Or do you do a show and it goes spectacular. Then you go eat because it’s like, ‘I deserve it!’”
7. Amy Schumer
“[Senator Chuck Schumer] is my dad’s cousin, and I don’t think he even knows I’m really alive or a comedian unless somebody’s been, like, ‘Should we kill her?’ And I have this joke in my set where I talk about false advertising and say, ‘There’s no wrong way to eat a Reese’s. Oh, really? Tell that to my uncle who used to put them in my underwear.’ And people online are like, ‘She should be careful with that joke!’ He’s not even my uncle! I was not molested.”
8. Bobcat Goldthwait
“You can’t really pick how you’re going to be remembered. I could cure AIDS, and my obit photo is gonna be me in a uniform going WAAAAH!”
9. Jessi Klein
“I worshipped [‘SNL’] as a kid. It’s all I wanted to do. As you get older and start to read books, you gradually become aware that maybe there are cats in America, and those streets are paved with cheese. When it came time to get that job, it’s gonna be like fucking your hero, and your hero gives you herpes. Or they cant get it up, and they squirt herpes on you. Why did I leave? I don’t know that I was particularly great at it. [Sketch-writing] doesn’t come the most naturally to me, and you do kinda have to live there. You’re working six days a week, and Sunday is a lost day. You’re in recovery. I felt like I wasn’t living a life. I’m glad I did it, but it exhausted me. It drained me.”
10. Janeane Garofalo
“The Tea Party Movement has affected my stand-up quite a bit. The new-found racism and all the apologists galvanized me in a way. My stand-up previously was more personal, confessional. I got a lot of grief going on Keith Olbermann and Bill Maher when Obama got into office. I pointed out that the Tea Party was a racist movement and also how it mis-characterizes populism. I lost a voice-over job for Weight Watchers within days.”
11. Stephen Tobolowsky
“I was in graduate school, and I was playing an 80-year-old man in this play. I was spraying my hair with streaks and tips as opposed to wearing a gray wig, so I wouldn’t look like a huge transvestite. The last day of the show, I went back to my apartment, and I washed my hair. As I’m washing, huge clumps started coming out in my hand. Gigantic clumps like I was around radiation. I felt like I cried for a month. I felt like it was the end of all my dreams, the end of me being a star in show business. From that moment on, I could look and see that I was one of those guys that was balding. And I was devastated. It just so happened that when you lose your hair, you tend to age less when you lose your hair early. You tend to look the same for a longer period of time. So it worked out really well for me, but that was a rough day.”
12. Kathleen Madigan
“[My old service industry job] is the only job I have nightmares about. I never dream about stand-up. I’m in the smoking section, it’s completely full. The non-smoking section waiters can’t help me because they’re not allowed in the section. I’m completely swamped. There’s a two-hour wait. Then I’m at the adding machine going, ‘You know, I was on ‘The Tonight Show’ and stuff. I don’t understand how I ended up back here. I guess it didn’t work out.’ That’s always the bottom thing — if it doesn’t work out, what are you gonna do?”
“‘The Tonight Show’ used to be a real bottleneck for comedy. You had to be on it. You almost had to have Johnny like you and call you over to the desk. Johnny didn’t like prop comics, but he’s a magician — figure that out. But I made up a routine called ‘The Tonight Show’ Home Game. I put Johnny in a little suitcase. You pulled one string, and he touched his tie. You pulled the other string, he threw his pencil. I showed this routine to the set director, and he said, ‘I want you to come into a production meeting, do the routine, and leave. Don’t talk to anybody.’ And it got me on the show.”
14. Aubrey Plaza
“I had three meetings [for my ‘Funny People’ audition]. One was a chemistry read with Seth Rogen. The meeting with Seth was crazy. I got there an hour early. I literally hid in the bushes when I heard Seth’s laughter because I didn’t want them to know I was there. I had my headphones in and pretended to listen to music. I kept my headphones in at the last minute, and walked up and was like ‘Oh, hey guys.’ It was such an extreme situation for me that it actually helped my nerves. I sat down, I had my script, Judd was like, ‘Let’s do the scene.’ Then he was like, ‘All right, lets put the scripts down.’ That’s when I got comfortable. Holding the script, reading the lines was when I got nervous. But when we put them down, I was like I can do this. I just have to make them laugh.”
15. Rob Corddry
“Everybody gets in fights [growing up] in Boston. I’m not a good fighter. I’d be the guy kind of on the outskirts of the fight, like, looking at my peripheral not wanting to throw a punch or get punched. After, I’d be lying about all the punches I threw.”
16. Bob Saget
“I get really really angry at people who kill themselves. I don’t care how nuts they are. Take your goddamn medication, get a family member, and stay alive. I hate it. What, you had a bad set? You had a bad year? Couldn’t get on? Fuckin go cut deli. You’re depressed? We’re all depressed.”
17. Karen Kilgariff
“It’s weird to be introduced as the head writer of ‘Ellen.’ I feel like I should come out with a tight perm and really comfortable shoes. Everyone’s, like, ‘Oh. Now were gonna get lectured by her.’ It always feels like the energy of the room goes to the fucking floor. ‘Oh. The ‘Ellen’ writer.’ I know I’m projecting, but thats always what it feels like.”
18. Andrew Dice Clay
“I used to call myself a Brooklyn bozo. I’m watching ‘Nightline,’ and they’re having a debate about me. I’m thinking, ‘Don’t they understand I’m just a comic?’ I was doing close to 100,000 people a week in concert, and that scared the media. So I became a lightning rod for every group looking for their own attention. I remember I was at a restaurant on Sunset, and this woman who runs NOW came up to me and said ‘I’m not supposed to say this, but I’m a big fan of yours.’ She’s a big fan, but they’re using me to get publicity and it just became the thing to go after Dice.”
19. Garry Shandling
“After college I wrote for ‘Sanford and Son.’ After I wrote three of them that they shot, I was confused. I was kind of wondering, ‘Why do you write more than three? Why do you write 20? Why 40?’ Anyone would be happy to be working on the number one show at the time, but why am I not? My therapist said, ‘You’re bored.’ That struck me. I get bored fast.”
20. Horatio Sanz
“I would go to bed, and my chest would vibrate. Like, I swallowed a vibrator and passed out. High blood pressure, borderline diabetes. A lot of drinking and a lot of eating. It was fun until it got unbearable. It just got too sad to drink. It wasn’t fun anymore, and I was killing myself. I think about that often. But now what? I’m a chubby dude who watches ‘Pawn Stars.’”
21. Richard Lewis
“[Larry David and I] go back to when we were 12. I went to this sports camp, and he was there. A gangly, despicable human being. Annoying. Hated him. Hate. Hatred. But he hated me. Then, later on, I became a comic, and he liked me. Then he became a comic. I heard about him and went, ‘Whoa, what a brain this guys got!’ Then he helped me move out of my college girlfriend’s apartment, and we were inseparable. So one night around 1 a.m., I looked at him and went, ‘There’s something about you that’s scaring the hell out of me, man.’ And he got spooked really fast. Somehow we got to retracing our childhoods, and I got back to 12 and then it hit me. I went, ‘You’re that Larry David?’ He said, ‘You’re that Richard Lewis?’ We came to blows at the bar. We hated each other.”
22. Amy Poehler
“I grew up middle class, but there were a lot of rich kids at Boston College. I didn’t get the language. I didn’t understand. They all knew how to decorate their dorm rooms very well. It was, like, a sea of bad lays. Then I started to realize I felt lost. I gravitated toward this improv group in college, some goofy name that had been around 15 years. Then I started living off campus and hanging with those kinds of kids. Lots of bongs, and a lot of hating the school we were in. I loved it.”
23. Laura Kightlinger
“I would have kittens if I could. Puppies or kittens. I’m not promoting or suggesting beastiality, but if I had to give birth to something…”
24. Jonathan Ames
“I tell women if you want to hold onto a guy, just, like, every three weeks or so tell him he’s got a beautiful cock. Say it every three weeks or so, not too often so the guy gets cocky, just enough to keep him coming back for more.”
25. Conan O’Brien
“I really didn’t enjoy my childhood. I was not easygoing. People have this idea that, when you’re in comedy, they think you must be some free-wheeling fun person. But I always took myself seriously, got very down on myself. Comedy was my escape. When I went to Harvard, I didn’t even think about going into the ‘Harvard Lampoon’ until, literally, my college roommate said ‘I’m going.’ And I said, ‘I guess I’ll go along with you.’ And that changed my life.”
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comics kill themselves sometimes. never the ones you expect. Richard Jeni, Greg Giraldo, and the guys who overdosed on purpose maybe… I imagine Saget is angry because he lost friends in that way. Suicide is a pretty selfish thing to do (your hurt everyone that loves you far more than you hurt yourself). It’s sad.
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