Interview With Comedian Chris D'Elia
As the perennially baked frat brother Bill Stankowski, Chris D'Elia has been receiving high praise this year as the breakout star of TBS’ college-themed sitcom Glory Daze. The show is set in 1986 and is centered on a group of freshman and their misadventures during their first year of college. D'Elia's character, Bill Stankowski, is an eccentric upperclassman and member of the Omega Sigma fraternity who cannot stop smoking weed. D'Elia's got a healthy resume of TV credits that includes appearances on Monk, Boston Legal and Chicago Hope.Fans of Glory Daze will be stoked next month when D'Elia’s first half-hour stand-up special debuts February 4 on Comedy Central.
San Diegans will have a chance to catch a sneak peek at his Comedy Central special when he brings his raucous high energy act to The La Jolla Comedy Store this weekend. I had chance to sit down with Chris D'Elia and ask him a few questions about his first time doing stand-up and if a second season of Glory Daze is on the horizon.
Where did you grow up?
Chris D'Elia: I grew up in New Jersey until I was 12, and then I moved to L.A. So I kind of feel like I was born on the East Coast, but was raised on the West Coast.
I know you’re an actor that’s been on shows before, but what was the impetus for you wanting to do stand-up comedy?
I've always wanted to do stand-up. That was the first thing that came out of my mouth when my dad asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up. I think that's actually what made me get on stage; I had been a writer, writing scripts and having things optioned but never having anything produced and an actor that was getting some auditions but obviously not booking most of them, just working here and there. So I just got fed up with the business of it all, and I wanted to, so to speak, take matters into my own hands and do things myself. So I thought, since I always wanted to do stand-up I would just get onstage, and I could do that whenever I wanted, and I could just do that and have instant gratification and self-worth. It was my New Year’s resolution, and I went on January 2, 2006. I was like, “If I can get on stage once a week this year that would be good for my resolution.”
So 2006 was when you started doing stand-up?
Wow, so you took to it like a fish to water. That’s five years.
Yeah it’s been five years. I can say that I’ve been onstage before, you know acting. And I can say that I always thought about being funny and it’s just something I obsess about. So there was some sort of natural ability I suppose, without sounding, you know.
It’s safe to say you didn’t have stage fright.
No. It’s definitely daunting to go onstage by yourself and be like, “Okay, I’m funny.” Look, I think you either get it or you don’t as a stand-up comedian, and I think, guys that get it--if they work very hard they can take to understanding it a lot quicker.
Do you remember what your first set was like?
It was at the Ha Ha Café in North Hollywood on Lankershim Boulevard. It’s a great club. I started doing open mics there. But the first open mic I did was like, well I guess most people haven’t been in fights, but it’s like when you’re in a fight and then it ends and you’re like, “What the hell just happened?” You barely remember it. Then somebody says, “Hey, good job,” or, “You really messed up.” Then the first show I did was like three months later. You say the fish to water thing, I also did 430 shows last year, so it’s like I’ve probably done more shows than someone who’s been doing it 9 or 10 years.
When can we see you on Comedy Central again?
I have my half-hour Comedy Central Presents coming out in a few weeks. That’s February 4.
How does it feel to have that under your belt?
It feels great, man. One works so hard at what he does for so many hours and days and years. And sometimes, especially as a performer, it all comes down to one moment that matters. And when you’re filming a special, that’s when it matters. So you hope to rehearse and train as much as you possibly can in order to then be able to just do what you have to do in that moment, whether or not the crowd is good. It has to do with luck, and the stars have to align too, but just be prepared as you can be. I just went up there. I felt very comfortable. I felt like I did what I needed to do. It felt great, man. I’m so happy with the way I felt during it, so hopefully it translates on screen. Being on stage and making people laugh is something I’d rather to do than anything else in the world, and that includes everything. The happiest I ever am is when I’m on stage.
Have you heard if TBS is going to pick up Glory Daze for a second season?
I’m lucky I’m with a good cast, crew and director. But you never know what’s going to happen to your performance by the time it gets to TV. You never know what’s going to happen to your performance, but when you’re doing stand-up, it’s the only thing where you’re just in control of in the moment right then--and besides maybe musicians have it, too. The people who watch Glory Daze really like it. I think we have some grassroots thing going on the internet. People are really talking about it and blogging about it. It’s doing well. I know the show is pretty expensive to make so I don’t know if it’s coming back again or not. I think things are feeling positive, but we could know about a pick-up from anytime from now until May.
How do you like the crowds at The La Jolla Comedy Store?
First of all I love being in La Jolla. I think it’s a really nice place to get away to. I love the club; it always feels like I’m on vacation there. The crowds are really great. When you get out of Hollywood you get a lot of people who actually want to come out to a show because that’s their night. In Hollywood they just stumble upon it, like “Oh yeah, let’s go in here.” So they don’t really appreciate it as much I think. But La Jolla, the crowds are really appreciative and really nice and afterwards they’re just very complimentary.
Who are you bringing down to open up for you?
This weekend I’m bringing Brandon Christy. He’s a British guy who started doing stand-up out here, which is kind of interesting I think, and Fahim Anwar. He’s a young guy and I saw him years ago at this little open mic that was terrible, and he was so funny he killed me. I think he’s going to be a big star.
Besides your episode of Comedy Central Presents, what else do you have coming up?
There’s a new show on Comedy Central called Workaholics that is premiering April 6. I’m in one of those episodes, and then I have my own show in development for Comedy Central called Nocturnal Missions. I play an alien, and my character’s race is completely dying out and we’re all sterile. So we build this machine to pump all of our DNA and energy into one human being so he can procreate our race into here on earth. So we have to get the right guy to put it in, so we find the world’s most fertile biggest stud. And when my character gets down to earth, we find out that we put it in the biggest dork by mistake. The reason we thought he was the biggest stud is because we were hooked into online stuff and he had the best avatar around. It’s a little bit like Mork and Mindy with two guys trying to get laid with really high stakes.
Does Chris D'Elia have a message for the children?
Listen to your parents, but only sometimes.
You’ve got four chances to catch Chris D'Elia this weekend at The Comedy Store: two shows on Friday and two on Saturday at 8 and 10:30 p.m. For tickets, call the box office at (858) 454-9176. $20 (21+ w/ ID)
- Ticket Prices: $20