If I say 'political comedian,' then people think you're talking about you, the Senate and Congress, and what's going on in Washington D.C. If I say 'comedian,' people automatically assume that you're a comedian who talks about how his wife won't listen to him and that dummy down at the mechanic who wouldn't fix his car.
W. Kamau Bell
I get very confused about being called a comedian, because when you say 'I'm a comedian,' people expect you to crack a joke. Maybe I use laughter and humour to make people think. I don't know what you call that - a humourist? A satirist? A pessimistic comedian? I don't know. Satirists can be very dark.
When you see a comedian on stage, the best comedians make it feel like a conversation. But it's not. We have very little interest in what an audience has to say during a performance. Being a stand-up comedian, you're an egomaniac to some degree. Everyone wants to hear what you have to say, apparently. That's not how real relationships work.
When you're in Hollywood and you're a comedian, everybody wants you to do other things. All right, you're a stand-up comedian, can you write us a script? That's not fair. That's like if I worked hard to become a cook, and I'm a really good cook, they'd say, "OK, you're a cook. Can you farm?"
A comedian is simply a different kind of therapist. A comedian is a psychologist and a psychiatrist rolled into one. Except I can't prescribe medicine. (You still need a doctorate, which is bullshit.) Okay, so I'm not like a psychiatrist. Fine. But I'm still like a psychologist (except I can't diagnose or treat mental illness).
I don't think a comedian should even be concerned with being cool or sexy, as soon as you do, you aren't a comedian any more. Looks are still the most important thing for women when it comes to meeting a partner. And that's fair enough, but a sense of humour is really important too. For starters, it's a great indicator of whether you are going to get on. If the first time you go on a date you don't find each other funny, there's a fundamental problem.
I don't come from a comedy background or a stand-up background, but I think that sometimes there's a misconception that an actor who works primarily in comedy is a comedian. There's nothing wrong with being a comedian, but I'm absolutely not that. I can't think of anything more terrifying than doing stand-up!
I always wanted to be a comedian, even when I was a little kid. I had a funny father who was in the news business, by the way. He was a radio news guy. So the news was always in my house, and funny was always in my house. It was sort of just baked into the DNA that I would do this for a living, but I can remember being less than 10 years old and dreaming about being a comedian.
Now a 'funnyman' can get a laugh before opening his mouth - looking funny. Lou Costello was one of your great funnymen. Harry Langdon, Larry Semon; they were all funnymen - they looked funny. W.C. Fields was never a comedian. Slim Summerville was a comedian, yet looked funny. Now if you have both attributes, you are in good shape.
I've told Michael Jackson jokes. If you got really technical, you could say those are jokes about child molestation. You could, if you got technical. A lot of this is just selective outrage because honestly, the audience are the ones that tell us that something shouldn't be spoken. The audience lets us know. And I've never, in my almost 30 years of being a comedian, seen a comedian continue to tell a joke that the audience doesn't respond to. I've never seen it.
The fact is that really no comedian sets out to offend you. Some comics enjoy the challenge of taking a subject that is likely to be found offensive and trying to make it funny"š but the object is still to make you laugh. Offense is only a calculated risk. It's highly unlikely that a comedian whose only goal was to repulse you would ever make it past an open-mic stage, far less build a long career of touring theatres and television appearances.
Has anyone seen me on Letterman? Two million people watch that show and I don't know where they are. You might have seen this next comedian on the Late Show, but I think more people have seen me at the store. That should be my introduction. "You might have seen this next comedian at the store," and people would say "Hell yes I have!"
Some street jokes are just timeless. There's an old street joke about comedians. The joke is that a beautiful girl comes up to a comedian at the end of the night and says, "I saw your show tonight, and I just loved it. I want to go home with you, and I'll do anything you want." And the comedian says, "Were you at the 7 or the 9?" That's just a perfect joke, because it points out how egomaniacal and obsessive comedians are. Even though I'm not waiting for a groupie, I can completely understand it. It just defines how comedians are driven.