Friday, January 27, 2012

More than five cents: Adam Carolla at The Fillmore Silver Spring

Catch Adam Carolla if you can. For a diehard sports fan who spends months out of the year traveling to do standup, it makes sense the always outspoken podcast host also is a vintage racecar driver. When he’s not recording “The Adam Carolla Show” in its Glendale, Calif., studio, Carolla spends his time fixing up old Datsuns, including one owned by the late Paul Newman’s racing partner, for competition.

“The Adam Carolla Show” has taken the man most known for co-hosting “Loveline” and “The Man Show” to new heights — even entering the Guinness Book of World Records as the most downloaded podcast in May 2011. Free of FCC regulations, Carolla improvises through his 90-minute shows, dishing on everything from news to the trials and tribulations of fatherhood. Whether it is about a cast member of “The Jersey Shore” or hotel remote controllers, Carolla has something to say.

The off-the-cuff, unrestrained nature of the show seems like the verbal equivalent of his need to go more than 100 miles per hour on straightaways on tracks such as Laguna Seca.

“I have fun doing it,” Carolla says.”But there’s no cops on the racetrack, which makes it a lot easier.”

While figuring out how to best demount a tire in his shop, Carolla spoke with The Gazette about his two upcoming sets at The Fillmore Silver Spring on Saturday and his future plans for standup.

A&E: As you know this is for the Fillmore show coming up, it’s a new venue in the area.

AC: Yeah, I didn’t know it was new, though.

A&E: It opened up in September. It’s nice. It has the whole red-room look and chandeliers.

AC: That’s good because it’s in my rider [that] I don’t play rooms without ornate lighting.

A&E: I’m sure that’s important when doing standup.

AC: It can’t be done. Listen, I don’t care if you’re Lenny Bruce or Chris Rock, you can’t be funny without super ornate lighting.

A&E: What’s the secret behind ornate lighting?

AC: I’d tell you, but I’d be breaking a certain code amongst comedians.

A&E: When did you get into standup?

AC: I guess I got into it a couple years ago and it sort of seemed like a good way to make money. And honestly at the beginning, I did it more to support the podcast and myself than I did it it was more out of necessity than out of love. There’s more than one answer. One, it’s not like really working. Going to a place, having people applaud and laugh and signing a few autographs after work, it didn’t feel like work to me. The travel part’s a little pain in the [expletive], but you actually get used to that so in an economy when people are looking to find jobs, having this one job of doing standup, it’s hard to complain about. But like I said initially, it was more just to subsidize the podcast, which wasn’t really pulling its own weight or paying for itself. Now the podcast has turned into its business and is doing nicely so the standup will probably be reevaluated a little bit in 2012. There’s that thing of, ‘Hey it’s nice to come out.’ I can go to Burbank Airport out there, hop on a plane and be in Seattle in two hours, sell out the Moore Theatre with 1,900 seats and be back home the next morning with a bunch of cash in my pocket. That’s an easy one. Going to Adison, Texas, and playing a strip mall and doing six shows in the three days, that’s a pain in the [expletive]. I think what we’ll probably do in 2012 is kind of pick and choose the events and the venues and the towns that seem like they fit in nicely with the schedule and basically do what you do when you don’t need to do it.

A&E: For a lot of people, it takes years to develop a style. Does that mean when you started doing standup you just jumped in without knowing how to do it?

AC: Well, yes and no. A couple things that I had going for me.

A&E: You’re no stranger to speaking in public, but standup is sort of its own beast.

AC: It is. But the good news is there’s many different types of standup now. There used to just be for a 90-minute show, [it] would take guys 10 years to put together 90 minutes worth of material, to hone 90 minutes worth of material. My agent handles Jon Stewart and people like that, and when I told him I wanted to start doing these 90-minute standup shows, he said… my agent was saying, “You just can’t walk out on stage and do 90 minutes, it takes years to develop that.” And I, thankfully, had had the experience of doing many college dates with Dr. Drew [of “Loveline”] back in the day, and doing lots of time in front of lots of people on stage — and at least I had that. And my standup is a little bit different in that I go up there and do sort of a PowerPoint presentation of complaining. I do a lot of improv and I do a lot of mixing and matching and some storytelling and that kind of stuff.

A&E: How do you prepare for your standup versus what you do with the podcast?

AC: It used to be much more cut and dried, and I know that maybe because of the Internet or Janeane Garofalo or both, there’s alternatives. For me, I would not even — wouldn’t even call [it standup]. What you’re getting is an evening with Adam Carolla. It’s not so much a 90-minute standup show. It’s some storytelling some motivational speaking, some improv, some jokes, some standup, some visual. I guess a sort of a one-man play, one-man show, but again, more of an evening with me rather than 90 minutes of me.

A&E: The life and times.

AC: Sure, right. I come up there with my stovepipe hat and talk about what it was like to free the slaves.

Photo courtesy ACE Broadcasting