Greg Behrendt on Doing Comedy for Rock Crowds

GREG_BEHRENDT_POSTER1-668x1024Greg Behrendt is the latest seasoned comedian to come into their own and start to get some success outside of comedy clubs. You know, “making it.” The thing is, he already has an impressive list of things you know him for: he wrote the book He’s Just Not That Into You, he was a script consultant for Sex And The City (he gave the writers a straight man’s perspective), he had a talk show for a while, he co-hosts the podcast Walking The Room and he plays in surf band The Reigning Monarchs. So you’ve heard of him. I tell Greg Behrendt that he’s the most famous person I’ve ever interviewed. “Jesus, aim higher! You have to aim higher,” he scoffs. “You’re really trolling the bottom.”

Comedy at NXNE is weird. Comedy shows are different than rock shows in that you’re not supposed to talk to anybody else. Whereas at a rock show, only some weirdos at the front are glued to the band, trying to ignore the sound around them. Also, rock sets are usually around 40 minutes; comedy sets in clubs last about 10. But festivals are going to do what they’re going to do, right? And artists can deal.

“Usually comedy fests are pretty great, music festivals can go either way.” Behrendt says of performing at a rock-based event like NXNE. “It seems like they know what they’re doing, they put some good people up there, hopefully it’ll be great.”

That optimism takes a turn however, when he adds, “I did this wine country version of Coachella. Not set up purely for comedy, but, you take it as it comes.” He rattles off his festival credits: “I have not done South By. Bumbershoot, Bottle Rocks, Coachella. Not Coach, what’m I…Lollapalooza.”

I ask him if he sticks around for the bands. He rattles off another list. “Bottle Rockets, Dwight Yoakam, Jane’s Addiction… Kings Of Leon were sort of a wash.” I wonder about watching bands now, compared to growing up around punk rock. “Back in the day, in San Fran, I saw the Dead Kennedys, X quite a bit… I was a pretty new wavey, preppy kid. I went to punk shows, I loved punk, but I wasn’t a punk til later. Too late.”

Speaking of too late, have I mentioned that I’m 34, I play in a band, I do standup, and I have a kid, while many of my friends who are in the same age range complain that they have no energy. “Priorities shift,” offers Behrendt. “Saying you dont have energy is an excuse. If I’m in my pyjamas at 6 on a Saturday, it’s been a successful day. Going out doesn’t have the same allure. I only go out if I’m doing standup or if I’m playing in a band. I’m 50, so, trust me dude, you’re going to get tired.”

How about playing in a band versus doing standup? There’s less ego in a band, because you have 3 other people to get along with. “When you’re doing standup, you can ALWAYS do what you want.” Should I tell our 700 readers to come see you because you’re going to do what they want? “Hey, if nobody reads this? That’s your jam.”

But why go a see a comedian when there’s 1,000 bands playing? “God, I don’t know. I don’t know why you would. Why would you bother? You’ll get 25 years of experience! Who knows. I DON’T KNOW. I’m funny. I tell stories. I’m certainly a cult leader, and I think you should come get involved. Maybe you heard about me on Buzzfeed. Jesus, I just love these losers. It’s hard to see yourself as a commodity and go, ‘Here’s why I’m great!’ I can talk about my band all day, but standup is so deep and personal. It’s not soft. I can speak to everybody. I hope that’s not going to sound too grand.”

Not too grand for 700 readers.

Greg will be performing at The Paintbox (555 Dundas Street East) on Friday June 14 @ 9pm

About Matt Collins

Matt Collins is a musician (Ninja High School), cartoonist (Sexy), jock (Manhunt), and comedian (Matt Collins) in Toronto, Ontario. Please buy more Matt Collins. [Other Posts By Matt]