Count Chocula & Blade Runner: The Doug Benson Interview
420 comic celebrates the release of Potty Mouth
Two things that can go well together are marijuana and comedy, and those are two areas comedian Doug Benson knows better than anyone else out there. With over twenty years of stand-up under his belt, Benson rose to fame over the years as comic on the national club circuit and with his marijuana-themed comedy show, The Marijuana-Logues. In 2007 Benson was an audience favorite on the fifth season of NBC’s Last Comic Standing before being unjustly eliminated in episode nine. That same year he starred in the critically acclaimed documentary Super High Me, in which cameras followed Benson for 30 days of nonstop cannabis consumption and 30 days of straight edge sobriety - then gauged his physical and mental health with a variety of tests. Potty Mouth, his latest album for Comedy Central Records was recorded on April 20, 2011 (420) at the Punch Line in Sacramento, California and is accompanied with a DVD containing all 6 (uncensored) episodes of Benson’s hilarious and short-lived show on Comedy Central, The Benson Interruption.
Currently in the midst of a whirlwind fall tour, SanDiego.com was fortunate to get Benson to answer a few questions about stand-up and found out how his years as a student at Grossmont College helped shape his desire to pursue a career in show business. What do you remember about the first time you did stand-up? Doug Benson: It was at The Comedy Store on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. I did three minutes on pot luck night. Don't remember much of the specifics, I just know that I used some props and did some sort of Rambo parody that involved Bambi. It was called Bambo, of course. What was your attraction to stand-up comedy – what made you want to pursue it?DB: I loved listening to stand-up comedy records when I was a kid. It wasn't until friends goaded me into it in my twenties that I thought I could actually be a comedian. How long do you feel it took you to discover your voice as a comedian?DB: Quite a long time. I always had a voice of some kind. But it took awhile to just be me up there. Or an amplified, putting-on-a-show version of me. Podcasting has really helped me to just be myself and not panic if a joke fails to get a laugh or if a drunk starts yelling out stupid shit. What’s your opinion on crowd work?DB: I think some comics are great at it, but most should show up with some jokes. I like to dick around onstage and try to be spontaneous, but I also have some jokes up my sleeve. Or scribbled on a napkin in my pocket. Do you remember the first time you smoked pot?DB: I tried it once when I was a teenager and didn't really take to it. Bad weed, didn't get enough hits, I don't know. But I didn't really consider it again, and to this day I don't really know why, until I was doing comedy on the road. I guess it was the two particular comics I was with one week in Walnut Creek, California - Brian Posehn and Greg Proops. We smoked after ever show for a whole weekend, and I've been smoking ever since. Do you feel that marijuana is what informs your sense of humor, or would you still have the same thoughts and sense of humor without smoking marijuana? DB: It helps to me to write silly jokes. And say them. But I can write jokes without smoking. I did it in SUPER HIGH ME. And that's a documentary so you know it's true. Have you ever performed stand-up comedy on mushrooms?DB: Just once. Anything that can cause hallucinations is not very compatible with a comprehensible comedy act. Your better off being an audience member when on mushrooms. An audience member at pretty much anything. What’s your favorite cereal? DB: Count Chocula because it's an awesome combination of Lucky Charms marshmallows and Alpha Bits, with a choclately twist! What’s your favorite dispensary in L.A.? DB: A private word of mouth one that I go to. His name is Ed. What can you tell us about your years spent in San Diego’s Community College System – did you attend Grossmont, Mesa or City and how did that help shape your sense of humor?DB: I went to Grossmont and was active in drama, journalism and telecomunications, but not very into my classes. There were some good teachers, but I had to take a lot of subjects I didn't care about, like math and French. But being in plays, and writing for and eventually being an editor at the school paper, and playing with the cameras and doing shows in the tv studio on campus, all of these things completely shaped what I would do with my life. I learned how much I loved performing, writing and producing from my two and half years at Grossmont. What do you remember about working as an extra in Blade Runner?DB: I remember that I skipped a final to drive up to Los Angeles to do it, and that the teacher let me make it up the following week because I explained to her how much being in Blade Runner meant to me. She was cool. Don't remember her name. If someone wanted to start doing stand-up comedy and asked you for advice what would that be? DB: Get up and do it. Repeat until successful or tired of it. Does Doug Benson have a message for the children?Doug Benson: Stay in school. Oh, and computers. Potty Mouth is currently available on Comedy Central Records.