INTERVIEW: Brian Scolaro
Fresh off the release of his new comedy album, Sneezes, Farts And Orgasms, Brooklyn born comic Brian Scolaro seems to have covered all the bases in creating what he describes as a comedy “mixtape.” The album is a virtual “smorgasborg” of his stand-up act intermingled with a couple of skits and a interview he did on the acclaimed WTF Podcast with Marc Maron. Born in Brooklyn, New York Scolaro would cut his teeth at the open mics of the rough and tumble world of New Yok City comedy clubs before becoming a regular at the legendary institution, The Comedy Cellar. After honing his chops on the East Coast, Scolaro relocated to Los Angeles where he would land roles on shows like Dexter, Men of A Certain Age, and the short-lived FOX sitcom Stacked, where he shared screentime alongside Pam Anderson. Currently on a break from his spring tour, Scolaro spoke with SanDiego.com from his home in Los Angeles and discussed his early years as a comic in New York City and recalled one his favorite memories of fallen rapper Old Dirty Bastard.
Do you remember the fist time you did stand-up?
Brian Scolaro: It’s a little bit of a blur but I remember that I filled the audience with my friends, so it was really the next show that hit me. The first show was full of my friends so it went pretty damn well. The second show I did I opened for a hypnotist at my college that I was going to, and so I just tanked, I just ate my balls right before him. I learned more from that, that memory is pretty much ingrained.
So how much time had passed between your first time up and your second gig when you opened up for that hypnotist?
BS: It was a bunch of months in between. I didn’t take stand-up seriously until 1995. So after January 14, 1992 I don’t think I performed until October 1992, and that was when I opened for the hypnotist. I thought I could do it but I was really wrong. They wanted a half an hour, I had no idea what the job would entail. It was like Charlie Sheen’s show in Detroit.
Can you talk about the process that you went through as a comic doing open mics in New York to getting regular spots around the various clubs?
BS: From about 92-95i was doing like five shows a year. Then in 95’ I was working as an intern for HBO’s Real Sex. My job was to stand down the street and radio the couple that was having sex in a car that they should stop having sex because the cops were coming down the street. That was my job, and I wasn’t getting paid for it. That’s what I went to college for, to walkie-talkie people fucking and telling them to stop. So I was like, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore. I really want to try stand-up comedy.’ This kid I’d known in high school wasn’t very funny, and he performed; he did one show. And I was like, “I’ve got to take this more seriously.’ So I took a job working with retarded adults, and I was able to pay my rent and I got a roommate in Brooklyn and I just performed every night. I turned down birthday parties, dates and important events and just kept performing every night.
Which club in New York would you say that you really honed your chops at?
BS: My home club in New York has always been The Comedy Cellar. There was a club called, Boston Comedy Club and that’s where I really became a comic. But it was The Comedy Cellar that created who I am onstage. I learned my chops in Boston, I learned what I had to do, but I became who I am at the Cellar. It’s hard not to; you’re performing after Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld’s up after you. You’ve got bring you’re A game all the time. It was the best, I’d say that club in New York is the reason I’m a comic.
When would you say you found your voice as a comedian?
BS: I found my voice like really early. I think about 5 years in; you know most comics quit after 5 years, did you know that? The ones who to stay past 5 years in they’re going to do it forever in some shape or form. I think about 5 years in I started to figure out who I was; I’m still figuring out who I am. Like now I’m out on the road headlining and I want to create a new persona for myself in a way.
How often do you incorporate crowd work or riffing into your act?
BS: Not much; last night I had a 20 minute set and 15 minutes of it were crowd work. I wasn’t having a great time and there were a bunch of drunk girls in the front because it was a bachelorette party, so I just made fun of them for a long time. I mean I normally like to do my written material, but I usually don’t make fun of people unless they’re jerks. Unless somebody’s an asshole and they go after me in some way then I’ll go after him.
What’s been the worst heckle you’ve ever received when performing?
BS: They all blend together; it depends on what you consider a heckle. I remember a girl on Halloween in New York, sitting in the front row dressed as a fairy just throwing up on herself, quietly. Without even realizing she was throwing up. She was looking at me in the eyes and throw up was just coming out of her. I remember performing at a comedy club in New York and a roach coming out of a guy’s jacket and crawling around on his chest, then go back into his jacket, and he as just looking at me smiling, He had no idea the roach was on him. I had to continue with my jokes. That to me is a pretty effective heckle. You don’t want to cause a panic and go, ‘Oh shit dude! You got a roach on your chest!’ Then he gets up and starts taking off his clothes in front of the whole crowd. So I didn’t know what to do so I just kept doing my jokes, hoping that he wouldn’t find it until the next guy was onstage.
When did you get passed at The Comedy Store?
BS: Dom Irrera recommended me to The Comedy Store in 2002, and I got passed then but I never really started hanging out there until the past couple of years. When I was acting I was pretty busy, so I never really tried to get spots even though I was a regular. The past two years I’ve been playing there a lot.
As a comic coming from New York, what was your experience becoming integrated at The Comedy Store?
BS: It felt like the Cellar to me, in the sense that there was a lot of edgy material going on onstage. What I’ve noticed in my years there now is, that it’s a supportive place for comedy. It’s a nursery for comedy almost. Every comedian goes in there and tries out new things every night, and it’s conducive. The people who run the place they keep the room in a way where comics can really grow and try things out. It’s not like, ‘Hey you gotta kill for 10 minutes and then get outta here.’ I really like that, so The Store has really become my favorite room.
How do you like performing at The Comedy Store in La Jolla?
BS: I really like La Jolla; it’s one of my favorite rooms on the west coast. That was one of the reasons I wanted to get in with The Store, so I could start playing La Jolla. To be completely honest I love La Jolla, I thought the crowds were great and I’ve often said that the San Diego crowds are my favorite crowds. That and Seattle.
That’s strange because San Diego and Seattle are almost the exact opposites of each other.
BS: I’ve never had a problem in San Diego, and I’ve never had a problem in Seattle. They always seem to be great shows; the crowds always seem to be up for whatever way you take them. I like that.
What can you tell me about your new album Sneezes, Farts And Orgasms?
BS: I released an album called Disaster and I was not happy with it. I wanted my album to be more of a mixtape of a bunch of things about me. So I took Disaster off the shelves and replaced it with Sneezes, Farts and Orgasms. I love that album; to me it’s exactly what I want. It’s basically a mixtape of madness, and that’s what I wanted. I didn’t it to just be solely stand-up, but it’s predominantly stand-up. It’s a stand-up album but it has all these little gems in it. That’s what I really wanted to do. I didn’t want people saying I was taking their money for two albums so I got rid of Disaster.
Do you have any new projects coming up?
BS: HBO’s The Life And Times of Tim, Season 3 is starting and I’m on that. I’ve been on every season and I’m on that season again. In fact I’m recording that tomorrow. I’m also the voiceover for the Louis CK TV show.
BS: Yeah, I say, ‘The following program is rated PG-13’ I say that and I go, ‘Coming up next on Louie.’
Do you remember when Old Dirty Bastard rushed the stage at The Grammy’s?
BS: Yeah sure.
One of things he said when he rushed the stage was that ‘Wu Tang was for the children.’ With that same respect, does Brian Scolaro have a message for the children?
BS: You know what I like about Ol’ Dirty Bastard before we do that. In one week he storms The Grammy’s and in that same week he saved a little girl’s life outside of a mall on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. A van ran over a little girl and the tire was on her, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard got a whole bunch of people to help him lift the van off the girl. Ol’ Dirty Bastard, saved a woman’s life the same week he stormed The Grammy’s. I have a video that shows Wu Tang Clan recording a live performance, and they do the song twice. Ol’ Dirty Bastard is the only person in the Wu-Tang Clan who does an all new verse for the second recording. That guy was a fucking maniac crackhead genius. The best doughnut I ever ate was called the Ol’ Dirty Bastard, it was in Portland. It’s a doughnut, they dip it in chocolate sauce then they put crushed Oreos on it then they put peanut butter sauce on it. It’s called the Ol’ Dirty Bastard, it’s phenomenal. I ate like eight of them while I was on the toilet masturbating. Anyways, my message for the children.. .I dunno? I don’t want to tell them not to do drugs, because I do drugs. I don’t want to tell them to stay in school; well, I mean I guess they should. Just lower your radios, that’s my message. Stop honking the horn so much. Chew with your mouth closed for the love of God, and ladies, fuck a fat guy once in a while. Spread the wealth.
Brian Scolaro headlines The La Jolla Comedy Store April 15-16.