I’m moving this week and on Wednesday, it took nearly four hours for me to pack up the contents of my kitchen into six (!) boxes.
I’m a single man who does not work in the culinary arts, and I eat at restaurants at least once per day. Why do I have so much kitchen stuff?
Up until 8 months and 20 days ago, drinking beer consumed a few hours every day for 22 years, and it appears I’ve accumulated one fancy beer glass for each of those drunken trips around the sun. Add the pint glass collection to the numerous steins and Mason jars and pewter wine goblets and commemorative glasses from many of our nation’s finest brewfests and that’s two boxes right there.
Were those introductory paragraphs meant to give you a glimpse into the life of the author, or was this personal touch ploy little more than a thinly veiled excuse for me to brag about having pewter wine goblets? People who know me know the answer.
Since cleaning out the kitchen, I have wondered whether or not I have an abnormal amount of cooking-related items, but then I put on a waterfalls sounds CD, lit some incense and thought, “Who’s to say what’s normal, man?”
Whether you have a set of fine china, or use the same plastic Carolina Panthers cereal bowl you had as a kid, you can enjoy this interview I did with stand-up comedian Brad Williams, who is headlining Raleigh’s Goodnights Comedy Club this week.
I took a break from the moving process to talk to Williams about his start in stand-up, Raleigh’s porn connections, the benefits of celebrating our differences and more. Enjoy the interview, follow Williams on Twitter (@funnybrad) and don’t forget The Best Tweet I Can Find in Five Minutes at the end.
Tony Castleberry: I read that you started stand-up when you were 19. Did you want to be a comedian even before then?
Brad Williams: I did, but I wanted to become a comedian the way a lot of kids say they wanna be a basketball player or an astronaut. Like, I didn’t think it was actually possible. I didn’t think it was what people did. I didn’t know how. It’s one of those jobs where, if you ask someone, “How do you become a professional comedian?” a lot of people won’t know what to tell you. Whereas, if you say, “I want to be a lawyer,” they say, “OK, go to law school.” There’s a path to get there. With comedy, it’s like, “I want to be a comedian.” They’re like, “All right, Be funny.” [interviewer laughs] No one really knows how to do it. I wanted to be a comedian, but didn’t think I could be a comedian if that makes sense.
TC: It does. It makes comedy a singular pursuit in a way because like you said, there really isn’t an A-B-C-D plan that you can follow to get there. What was your path? Was it going to open mics or friends telling you you were funny and you should try to tell jokes on stage? Was it something in you telling you that you could be good at it?
BW: It was something in me that said I thought I could do that. It looked like fun and it looked like something I could do so yeah, I started doing the open mic night and eventually I got discovered in a way that I started going on the road. The great part about being a stand-up and wanting to do stand-up comedy is, it doesn’t matter who your dad is or who you know. Everyone starts out the same way. There’s a microphone. Make these strangers who don’t give a fuck about you laugh. Go for it. Everyone sort of starts out on the same level. There is no shortcut to being funny. That’s one of the reasons I like this business so much. I feel like if you’re an actor…you see a lot of actors do things on TV and in movies and you’re like, “I could do that.” Sure, some of the performances are utterly amazing and there’s no way I could do that, but a lot of the one-liners, the guys that are in an office that have two lines, you’re like, “Gimme eight takes and I can probably nail one of those.” [interviewer laughs]
With comedy, because laughter is such an involuntary reaction, you can’t force it and the world can’t say, “Hey, this is a good comedian” and you have to listen. You listen to their stand-up and if you like them, great, but you’re not forced to like them.
TC: You guys had Carol Leifer on the podcast recently and I know you want to laugh and make the guest laugh, but did a part of you just want to listen and learn from her? She amazes me every time I hear her talk about comedy.
BW: Yeah. That’s the thing about having a podcast. Some interviews are easier than others. Some interviews we’re pulling teeth. We’re asking the questions. We’re driving the ship. Some interviews, like a Carol Leifer who’s done so much in her career, you kind of just want to stand back and go, “Just tell me about ‘Seinfeld.’ Tell me about ‘Saturday Night Live.’ Tell me about ‘Curb (Your Enthusiasm).’ Tell me about all the things that you’ve worked on and done and all the people you’ve come across.’” She was a fantastic podcast interview and I highly suggest to your readers that they check that out.
TC: I’ve heard her on Stern a couple of times too and like an hour and a half in, I just want it to go for another hour, you know?
BW: Absolutely, (but) once we interview Carol Leifer or Melissa McCarthy or Dana Carvey or Neil Patrick Harris, we can’t just sit back and go, “That was great. Let’s rest on that for a month.” We have another one coming out on Thursday or Monday so we just get right back to it.
TC: Is doing bits about your height a kind of power grab? Like, “You guys aren’t going to joke about this. We are going to joke about it?
BW: I kind of have to do jokes about my height. If I go on stage and do not mention the dwarfism at all, the audience just stares at me like, “Does he know?” [interviewer laughs] They’re kind of waiting for me to talk about it because a lot of people don’t have a lot of little people in their lives or they don’t have too many interactions with them. I think they’re anxious to hear about it. … I’ll always do jokes about it in some way, shape or form just for that reason. It’s my only perspective. It’s the only perspective I’ll ever have. I can’t write jokes from the perspective of a 6-foot-4 black man. [interviewer laughs] That’s not my cup of tea, but once I talk about it, I definitely move into other topics. I don’t want people to read this and think my act is an hour of “I can take a bath in a thimble.” That’s weird.
BW: A lot of your kid readers won’t know what a thimble is.
TC: [laughs] I’ll get some clipart of a thimble and attach it to the interview so they’ll have visual evidence.
BW: OK. Yeah, you can’t even say it’s a Monopoly piece because they just took the thimble out.
TC: I know. Have you ever played Goodnights before?
BW: If I did, it was as a feature act, so this is my first time coming there as a headliner and I’m definitely excited.
Apparently you guys have an adult film star that lives in Raleigh and she tweeted me that she’s coming to the show, I think, Saturday night. Bringing a lot of her adult star/stripper friends, so this being a comedian is a pretty good gig. I’m not gonna lie. [interviewer laughs] There’s parts of it that certainly don’t suck. You don’t expect to go to Raleigh, North Carolina, and interact with a porn star, but I guess that’s what’s gonna happen.
TC: No doubt. You can’t turn that down. I saw Natasha Leggero at Goodnights a few years ago and she was doing some crowd work near the end of her set, like she was trying to be a matchmaker. She invited a woman on stage and asked her what her occupation was and the woman, without hesitating, said she was a fluffer. Raleigh might be a little more diverse than I thought.
BW: Wow. I mean, she didn’t even lie and say porn star. The fluffer is sort of the bottom of the totem pole, or the bottom of the shaft really. That’s surprising she went out and admitted that, but hey, good for her. You definitely have some interesting people living there in Raleigh. That’s one of the reasons I love touring because I don’t believe that cities and towns and regions are just a simplified stereotyped “you” that we have. I live in Los Angeles. Everyone here probably thinks when I say I’m going to Raleigh, North Carolina, that I’m gonna get off the plane and the scene from “Deliverance” is gonna play out. I know the town is more than that and I’m anxious to discover it.
In the same way, I bet people from North Carolina think everyone in L.A. is hippy-dippy, liberal bastards. I want to bring something that’s not quite that to them. … It’s fun to travel around and see these different areas because you really get an appreciation for what makes this country truly great, and that’s all the different people that we have in it.
Here it is, The Best Tweet I Can Find in Five Minutes:
I think you may be confusing freedom with Amazon Prime. https://t.co/GOvfJOAZDr
— Mike Pesca (@pescami) February 23, 2017