Episode 6: Jimmy Pardo (Voted #10 Ep of 2011)
Comedian Jimmy Pardo appears for the first time as a guest. They bust each others balls then get down to the business of being funny, and the pain and anxiety underneath it. Note: The audio was accidentally mixed for stereo, and some people find it a little annoying. Apologies.
Paul: Hi, I’m here with my friend Jimmy Pardo. I use the word friend loosely. Acquaintance, 23 year acquaintance would that be more accurate?
Jimmy: I like that you even stumbled over the joke. You could even … because you know what you wanted to be hurtful out of the box for some reason on a show that’s supposed to be a safe place, to talk about feelings. You chose to … and you even know it was wrong.
Paul: I karate chop you before the bell even rings.
Jimmy: You stumbled over it because you knew that …
Paul: That was karma, karma coming back at me. You would think that you and I accidently wore this exact same t-shirt today, our San Francisco Sketchfest t-shirts.
Jimmy: From two years ago.
Paul: From two years ago. I had a lot of fun up there, I think I did better than you did but that’s just me.
Jimmy: I don’t know if that’s true.
Paul: I can guarantee that’s not true. Pretty much anywhere we go I can guarantee that’s not going to be true.
Jimmy: That’s not true, there has been times. Dayton, Ohio 1990, `91 maybe. When was the Rodney King riots? `91?
Jimmy: Those were `91?
Paul: Yeah, but when do you celebrate those?
Jimmy: Every year.
Paul: Every year. Jimmy Pardo is … I have two best friends in the world, my friend Mike [inaudible 00:01:34] who lives in San Diego and my friend Jimmy Pardo who lives here in Southern California with me. You are the two guys that I share my deepest feelings, thoughts, experiences with. Yet when I started doing this podcast, why is it that it didn’t occur to me to have you as a guest. I didn’t realize it until I was doing your podcast a couple of weeks ago. The subject came up and I guess it’s because you quit drinking on your own and you don’t suffer from depression. Yet you suffer from great anxiety and that never really occurred to me, you are a nut job and I forgot that you are a nut-job.
Jimmy: Listen and its funny because I told my beautiful wife Danielle about this that I saw that you … I may have told you a little bit about this. I saw that you had started a podcast and I saw that you had Maron on and Corrolla. I was like, “This doesn’t seem like Paul. To go ratings as opposed to going with his friends.” That doesn’t seem like your MO, I was bent out of shape. “Why wouldn’t he even asked me? Why wouldn’t my friend not ask me to be on his podcast?” I listened to it and I was like, “Hey I’ve got some stuff I can talk …
Paul: I got issues.
Jimmy: I got issues
Paul: Defensively. I’ve got issues, I’m fucked up.
Jimmy: I’m as screw up as Maron. That may not be the case. Then when I saw you and you said, “Wow I didn’t even think about you, you are like the most stable guy I know.” “Oh it’s a compliment that I wasn’t asked to be on this.”
Paul: It was a compliment and I marvel sometimes because it’s funny when you quit drinking for a long time I thought, Jimmy is an alcoholic he just doesn’t know it. The more I have watched you over the years you don’t show the signs of somebody that is a dry drunk. Because you … I don’t know you have this ability to … One of the hallmarks of alcoholism is your perspective is worked. You filter everything through your own needs and fears and step on people’s toes and get into self-pity et cetera, et cetera. As I have seen you go through tough things in your life I didn’t see you react the way a dry drunk would have reacted.
Jimmy: How would they have reacted I’m curious as to …?
Paul: Would have lashed out more, would have not been to see that something is not about them. They take everything personally. There is three hallmarks of an alcoholic and an addict. They are emotionally immature, they are selfish and they are hypersensitive to criticism. You think that’s you? Maybe you are a dry drunk.
Jimmy: I don’t think I am. I think that … to be honest I don’t know if I’m a dry drunk, I’m guessing that there is probably something else going on.
Paul: You are neurotic and you have a lot of anxiety.
Paul: That’s a given, that doesn’t necessarily indicate mental illness. The degree to which somebody has anxiety had neurosis. It’s a grey area I listened to a podcast that they did at MIT where they talked about, what … there is that grey area whereas somebody become mentally ill. One of the mental illnesses that is easiest to categorize is schizophrenia, because it’s the closest to an on/off switch from mental illness that there is. Where as depression, is it situational, is somebody just going through something in their life that’s bringing them down? Or are they physically not producing the chemicals in their brain that allow them to feel something.
I think also alcoholism and addiction would maybe be kind of the same thing. What separates a heavy drinker from an alcoholic or an addict? I guess I had just categorized you as somebody who was a heavy drinker saw the err of their ways and was able to quit. You don’t have the obsession to drink or do drunks.
Jimmy: I think I was a situational drunk. I think I was bored in comedy clubs. I was bored …
Paul: Along with the audience.
Jimmy: That’s hurtful. I think that it bled over a little bit when I first moved here to Los Angeles in `95. That’s when I would come over to your house we would play monopoly for hours on end. None of us had money and we were …
Paul: We had monopoly money.
Jimmy: Sure we did.
Paul: I was the banker, I had a maid.
Jimmy: That’s why you always won. I think that I would always show up with a six-pack to that because I had always lived with either my parents or with a woman. I finally …
Paul: An unstable woman, lets get more … that’s all right that’s not fair.
Jimmy: That’s not fair she is a good lady.
Paul: It was an unstable relationship.
Jimmy: Yes it was a horrible …
Paul: Yes, I’m sorry I shouldn’t have put that on her.
Jimmy: No, lets put a lot of it on me, we can certainly put a lot of it on me. I felt like when I moved out here in `95 that that was almost like me going to college a little bit. I had my roommates and I was overwhelmed by show business. Coming out here and basically starting over.
Paul: Probably came out here with the same attitude that everybody does, “Hey everybody I’m here where is my sitcom.”
Jimmy: Let’s do it.
Paul: For 99.999% it doesn’t happen ever.
Paul: Let alone the first year.
Jimmy: Right. I would admit that I would hide a little bit in alcohol and I was doing it as a crutch to do something. I was enjoying …
Paul: Gorgeous crutch it was though.
Jimmy: The freedom and then on the road I would be bored out of my mind after the shows and I would drink till they told me to stop.
Paul: You would call Carla, my wife and I at 2:00 in the morning from some shit party talking about how lonely you felt.
Jimmy: Yes, awful, I was drunk and sad and I don’t want to say depressed, scared, lonely and just coincidentally out of that unstable relationship. I think I could drink again today. I can go to a ball game and have a beer, I have not since July 18, `99. Part of it is I’m proud of it, I’m proud of the accomplishment. I think that even going, I could have a drink tonight at the Dodger game. I would feel like, no damn it. I don’t know there is something about this achievement that I have done of not drinking that I honestly in my heart believe I could go tonight have two beers at the game and then not drink again for seven years.
I believe that, honest to god and I’m not delusional about it. Because I don’t have a craving for it. I just don’t want to. I think that was a long way of answering that I don’t think I’m a dry drunk, I think there is other … I do take a lot of things personally and I do think I’ve got some OCD tendencies.
Jimmy: What does that mean?
Paul: This is going to be a hard interview for me because I’m so gentle with the people that I don’t know. I just got back from the Bridgetown Comedy Festival and interviewed a bunch of people who I had never met before literally until they are opening up about their lives with me on the podcast. Here I am with my best friend in the world launching missiles right at his head. That’s how we do it as comedians, that’s how we show our love for each other. It’s funny because I think we grew up so uncomfortable sharing our own feelings it has become our way of saying I love you as we burst each others balls.
Jimmy: I don’t disagree with that. Yeah.
Paul: Yet our relationship has moved beyond that, you and I will tell each other I love you. You are my best friend, I’m so glad you are in my life. I wonder how may comedians out there never say that to another person or don’t have somebody in their life where they can say that. That makes me sad and a lot of them I think are some of the most successful comedians. Where there is this wall around them and I’ll start to get jealous of what they have materialistically and in terms of recognition. Then I think I wouldn’t want to live in that one dimensional world of everything that I feel good about myself is wrapped up in that but I feel I don’t have somebody to connect to.
Jimmy: You and I have a lot of mutual friends and acquaintances that will constantly be talking that we are doing well. They will go I’ve got to get something going and in my head I’m like, man you’ve got to enjoy what you have. It’s because they don’t have somebody that they can bond with and they don’t have somebody that they can share emotions and feelings with. They have to take that out on their work. I don’t mean that negatively but they have to … I need something going. You are doing okay.
Paul: That’s one of the other reasons why I wasn’t sure you were qualified, it seems like a wrong word for the podcast. Because you have an amount of gratitude that seems to exceed the average comedian. That also made me think that you were too stable to do this. Then again doing that last podcast I realized you were a nut job.
Jimmy: I have the gratitude because I have no talent. Everything I have achieved has been smoke in mirrors.
Paul: Maybe the falsest statement that I have heard in a long time. For those of you that don’t know Jimmy which is 99% of the world. Jimmy Pardo is one of the most unique voices in comedy. There are times when I sit in the back of the club and I hate to blow smoke up your ass, because I do it every time I watch you perform. You are an original. You found your voice in about 1990.
Jimmy: No, no `93.
Paul: `93? Was it that late?
Jimmy: `92 to `93.
Paul: Wow, I had to listen to your shit act for six years before you got good.
Jimmy: `89 to `92, three years.
Paul: Oh `89, oh I started in `87. All right three years. It literally happened over the course of a month. I remember it so clearly, it was a showcase for the Montreal Comedy Festival.
Jimmy: No showcase for CBS.
Paul: For CBS at and Eric what’s this name?
Jimmy: Eric [Fagen 00:11:50].
Paul: Eric [Fagen 00:11:50] was holding it and you had gotten on the showcase which didn’t strike me as odd. I didn’t think you were of showcase material yet but then you said Eric really wanted me on the showcase. I remember thinking, is Eric deaf, dumb and blind. Because Jimmy while a hilarious person offstage, was not bringing that on to stage. Suddenly and I saw you do your set that night, I suddenly understood why Eric … you had found your voice. You had found the person that everybody loved offstage, well not everybody. Certainly the person that strangers did not care for onstage, but the friends cared for offstage.
You had found that voice and it was so fantastic to see. You had brought that kind of self-conscious in a good way awareness about yourself. It was as if you stopped caring about what the audience thought of you and were yourself. Walk me through if you would how you found your voice on stage.
Jimmy: You know what it’s a weird way to put it, I stopped trying to be a comedian. I stopped trying to be Paul Reiser and Robert Klein who were two of my heroes. I stopped trying to be them. I have said it over and over that you and there was a couple of other … a handful of people whose names I will not be able to pull right now. Would always [inaudible 00:13:18] Rooney was one of them, Brian Schmidt out of Chicago. There was just a handful of guys that kept of saying Fred Klett out of Milwaukee, “You are the funniest guy offstage, if you ever bring this onstage you are going to be huge.”
I was getting paid as a comedian, I was getting bookings, I had no empty spots on my calendar I’m like, “What are you talking about? I’m doing great.” It was you, towards the end of `92 I don’t remember what it was. You had said something and I will never remember it, it was a statement you made where it finally clicked. It wasn’t just …
Paul: I can take credit.
Jimmy: I would take minimum 90%. It was something you said and I wish I could remember what it was. It wasn’t the, you are the funniest guy offstage if you bring it onstage its going to work. It wasn’t those words it was the same intent. It was different verbiage however you want to pronounce it, it’s the same thing.
Paul: In Spain they put the i in verbiage.
Jimmy: I remember specifically, it was I was working at what was the Broad Ripple Comedy Club at the time the last week of December `92 going into New Years Eve then New Years day and January too. I was working with Chris Alpine who was the headliner, [inaudible 00:14:40] was the opener and I was the middle act. I just went enough, something before the week before and that week you had said something and it clicked and I went, “You know what stop trying to be them and be this guy.” I went up on stage on that Tuesday night and I came off and [inaudible 00:14:58] said, “What was that?”
I said, “What do you mean?” She goes, “That’s the funniest you’ve ever been on stage, you finally found who you are.” I go, “What?” She goes, “Yeah.”
Paul: Really, you can pin it to one night?
Jimmy: Yeah. Then that week I just kept …
Paul: That involved probably mostly improvising.
Jimmy: All improvising. I remember at the time I was maybe a little influenced by Denis Leary’s and Dennis Miller’s ranting a little bit. A little bit of that and that was speaking to me more than Klein or Reiser were at that moment. Even though I don’t call Miller or Leary heroes as much as I do. Still it was this transitional.
Paul: Their attitude is what you liked.
Jimmy: I admit that then I went overboard at the end of … I found it for a little while exactly where I am today, I found it a little bit in `93 and then that week, I did I experimented all week long. I kept on.
Paul: That was also a time, when the Sam Kinison, Denis Leary via Bill Hicks really. Everybody thought that if you are not edgy you are not relevant. You are … I can understand why you were pushing that edgy thing even though you didn’t need to be. Because what is really funny about you today is your silliness more than your edginess. You hadn’t found really the silly yet.
Jimmy: That was a great note my mom gave me. She came to see me at KJ Riddles at the end of October or something of `93. She said, what happened to the happy-go-lucky guy that was sarcastic? I went, “You don’t understand ma.” I remember getting all bent out of shape about it. Because I did go like I said …
Paul: I’m not getting on MTV unless I look at the camera and …
Jimmy: You tell them what’s wrong with the world. I’ll give you an example was I was called Q95 in Indianapolis, I called it Q 9 T 5 and thought I was being interesting. Then I got angry. For all of `94 I was angry on stage.
Paul: Which is really just fear. I think most of the time that’s really where our anger as a comedian comes from which is why so often when you see a young comedian on stage they are very, very angry. They are really not angry at what they are talking about, they are mostly scared that they are not going to be good enough.
Jimmy: Because I was making this change I had that. It helped me to then find the level of the silliness and this anger to where then, oh here they come and I’m doing a visual. To then level out in `96 I think is when it really then. You are saying we can pinpoint it to that time in `92 it took another two and a half years to level out and be this happy-go-lucky guy with an edge, who is also self-deprecating.
Paul: That’s one of things that I love about watching your act is you never know which of those moments you are going to get and you mix it up. It keeps the audience and the comedians guessing. One of the worst drawbacks to being a comedian is who makes you laugh. You are a comedian’s comedian as well as accessible to the audience which so few comedians are.
Jimmy: I appreciate you saying that. I was not in `95.
Paul: You were just a comedian’s favorite.
Jimmy: Oh yeah. I remember at the improv Kevin Burke I would hear him at the improv in Chicago. He would be up in the balcony and I would hear him running down the stairs, the metal stairs to go out to the lobby and go, “He’s snapping.” Now all the comics would come in to watch me just go berserk. Because they are not laughing and then I would take it out on the … I was that guy “Yeah you are dumb.” You are just not being funny. Then `96 like I said is when it clicked, where the audience started liking it as much as the people and then the podcast made in 2006 made a difference.
Paul: Let’s talk about that a little bit.
Jimmy: We don’t have to yet …
Paul: For the people that don’t know you Jimmy does a podcast called Never Not Funny and truly one of the pioneers in podcasting. The only person I was aware of that was doing a podcast before you was Ricky Gervais. In fact I’m such a dullard when it comes to predicting what is going to be big. I remember when you started doing the podcast I remember thinking, somebody is already doing a podcast. Why would you do that. Ricky Gervais is always doing one. Never occurring to me that you are going to bring your own thing to it.
Jimmy: I will not lie that I then became territorial about it because I had been doing it. I was the first West Coast professional comedian to be doing a podcast I think.
Paul: The first one to begin to earn money doing it which is no small fete.
Jimmy: Thank you. I did become … same deal, other people would start, “I’m going to do a podcast.” “No, that’s my thing I’m the podcast guy.” Which I always trying to equate, I had to imagine at some point Leno and Seinfeld while they were doing comedy in strip clubs and then all over sudden a comedy club opens. “Wow, wow that’s our thing.” “What do you mean?” A podcast is just another funnel to use our talents, I think. I rationalize in my head.
Paul: No, absolutely. Your podcast Never Not Funny is consistently up there in the iTunes top rated.
Jimmy: We used to be in the top five until we started charging. Then those numbers either go to people that pay for it, or people that just gave up because … we are in the top 25 I think consistently which is still no small fete.
Paul: The point is you are growing your listenership and now you are getting to the point where you are booking gigs, where you can go do your podcast live. I’ve got to tell you, on the one hand I’m so happy for you and on the other hand I’m so jealous. Because it’s … something that I have always wanted is that … I’m making this about me now. I went through a period where I was popular on the Bob and Tom show doing my poetry and as soon as people started wanting to pay to see me to do my poetry I had become bored with that part of my act. I wanted to begin talking about politics and other stuff that they had no interest in hearing.
It was if I was going out to do those cities I was just doing it for the money and I couldn’t get people to pay me to talk about what I wanted to talk about and you are dong that. I want to congratulate you for it and hit you in the knees also.
Jimmy: Thank you, you are going to go Gillooly, huh.
Paul: Go … wow.
Jimmy: You are welcome.
Paul: Nice reference, Jeff Gillooly. Was that is name Gillooly?
Jimmy: Yeah, Jeff Gillooly.
Paul: Let’s talk about, lets go back to the beginning take the listener through what kind of a childhood you had.
Jimmy: I grew up in south side of Chicago, like you did.
Paul: Ten miles from me.
Jimmy: Eventually. We grew up right on the south side of Chicago, 87 and … wrong 79th and Cicero.
Paul: Oh I didn’t know that.
Jimmy: Until I was eight. Then we moved to Oak Forest for eight months. Then we moved back to 87th and Cicero to a place called hometown, where I lived from eight years old until 14. Then we moved to Oak Forest which was about 10 miles from where you grew up in Homewood.
Paul: Why the bouncing back and forth?
Jimmy: My parents got divorced.
Paul: How old were you when they got divorced?
Paul: Describe what you remember feeling when that happened.
Jimmy: I remember my dad sitting us down in the basement in the house in Oak Forest and he said, “I’ve got something I want to tell you boys,” my brother and I. He was crying, one of only two times at that time that I have ever seen my dad cry. I had seen him cry when his sister passed away. I think I was six at that time and remember thinking, wow I’ve never seen my dad act that way. Then when he was crying when he called us down there to say that, “Your mother and I are splitting up, we still love you very much.” Whatever the speech was. I just remember sitting on his lap, I was on one knee and my brother was on the other and just sobbing.
Paul: Oh my god.
Jimmy: Maybe not really understanding what was happening. More maybe feeling my dad’s pain of having to tell me that. Then he moved out.
Paul: What did that feel like?
Jimmy: Obviously it was upsetting and sad but at the same time when you are eight and then you get to see your dad in the weekend there is that excitement value of, “Oh we are going to see dad, we are going to go to a movie.” He is going to take us … we are going to get a joy, we are going to go to a baseball game, we are going to do whatever. I don’t know, I was eight and that’s a long time ago and I don’t remember all my emotions of it. I admit that I maybe blocked a lot of them out. Then my mom got remarried fairly quickly when we moved to Hometown.
Paul: You grimaced when you said that, you want to explain. She is not going to hear this.
Jimmy: I think … I don’t … I don’t … I. Hey how are you? I think that she married the gentleman that may have caused the divorce.
Paul: There was probably something before the divorce.
Jimmy: It was quick, the marriage but then she was with that guy for 30 years.
Paul: A guy who you love.
Jimmy: I have not seen … they got divorced about six years ago. I did and I still have a great affection for because he was 30 years of my life. He was along with my mother and father and everybody just supportive of what I chose to do. Whether it be emotionally or financially. He would show up and watch all my dumb community theatre plays and he would show up in high school and grade school. When I started doing open mics they would come and … They would drive off to Merryville which was a 40 minute drive to watch me do stand up. They were supportive. Yes I have some feelings towards him but I also have some new feelings towards him.
Paul: What was the circumstances of their divorce? You don’t need to get into it.
Jimmy: I’m not 100% sure I understand it. I think that they … just time for them to move on from each other.
Paul: You had these two dads.
Jimmy: I had Paul Reiser and Greg Evigan. It’s only when I became an adult that I realized that we had no money. We would go to Dan’s hotdogs or something, one of those south side Chicago hotdogs. My dad would pick us up at noon on a Saturday or Sunday. The thing that I would always … it’s funny all these thing as you get older I figured. My dad would work two jobs during the week to help support us and also to support himself. He worked two jobs and went to school and then on Saturday mornings he would go and play 18 holes of golf with his friends from work and then at noon pick us up.
Then he would say, “Hey lets just go back to my apartment so I could just close my eyes for half an hour then we’ll start our day.” At the time I remember just being so angry, “What do you mean take a nap, we’ve been waiting all week to see you.” Now I get it the man was working his ass off but he was exhausted, and I think about me playing 18 holes of golf. I can’t believe a half hour is all he needed. I want to sleep the afternoon away. He would get up at 5:00. By the way he would go and do a 6:00 tea time so that he could see us at noon. He did everything to accommodate but yet I had years of, anger is the wrong word, misunderstanding.
Paul: I don’t think its any irony that your one-man show was called Attention Must be Paid.
Jimmy: Yes of course, it was a perfect … By the way my manager Bruce Smith came up with that title based on me talking about my life. When he hit on that I was, “That’s it.” Whether it be for my parents, or people at school or the audience, attention must be paid. That’s my mother right there, I told you not to talk about the divorce. What was the point of … what was I going on about?
Paul: We were talking about your dad doing all these things to spend time with you at noon but you were feeling like how could he be taking a half an hour nap.
Jimmy: Exactly I don’t know where I was going with that. I guess you are asking my feelings about the divorce. There was still the excitement of seeing … I have got two Christmas’. I have got Christmas with my mom’s family and I’ve got Christmas with my dad’s family.
Paul: Like it’s a good thing or a bad thing?
Jimmy: Like a good thing. I guess it wasn’t until years later. Then my dad would from time to time bring up, I wish I could have spent more time with you kids. I would always try to make him feel okay about it. “No daddy we saw each other a lot.” In an effort to make him feel better just missing what he was really trying to say was, “I wish I could have spent more time with you guys.”
Paul: One of the reason that I asked you about if you could remember what it was that you were feeling was, I had this theory about people that get stuck emotionally. I guess I should only speak for myself. Before I did any work on myself my two primary emotions were excitement or dread. The more I looked within and did work on myself and fount out what I was really feeling and who I was really mad at and how negatively I looked at myself. The palette of feelings that I had broadened and allowed me to deal with stuff more specifically and allowed me to develop tools to deal with negative feelings better.
I think for comedians especially or people that come from situations that aren’t ideal. I think if we don’t actively get help or do some kind of work on ourselves it remains dread and excitement. We work the wheels off excitement. We become addicted to drinking, pornography, anger, shopping, recognition, whatever it is does that make sense to you?
Jimmy: Yeah it makes a lot of sense.
Paul: Did you feel like your two primary emotions as a child were excitement and dread?
Jimmy: I’m not 100% sure those aren’t the same too. I think about recently I was lucky enough to do some sketches on Conan and I was excited.
Paul: Jimmy does, a warm up by the way for Conan does a fantastic job. You had started doing Andy Richter’s sidekick.
Jimmy: Yeah, the sidekick’s sidekick.
Paul: Who finds Andy to be hilarious but [inaudible 00:30:14] Conan.
Jimmy: Yeah, he thinks Conan is awful. Yet there was the dread in me too, oh I’m going to fail, they are putting me on … I’m getting on the big screen. Which by the way is the whole reason we are on this business. Yet its like, I get the phone call saying, “Hey we are going to do that sketch on Monday.” You had to tell me on Friday, so now I got two days to think about it. You couldn’t have told me five minutes …” You know what I mean. It was like, “Oh its going to go wrong, it’s going to fail.” No, you are funny and you are good. I had to give myself a pep talk that morning as a matter of fact of, they asked you to be part, remember you are on the show because they think you are funny.
Paul: They wrote the sketch with you in mind.
Jimmy: They wrote the sketch for me and you are working on a great talk show, because all these people like you and think you are funny, you dumb ass.
Paul: Your dad didn’t get you the job. You got the job based on your talent. When that fear is in there that we are not good enough. Whatever we are going to choke it masks all that out. After I got my gig on Dinner and a Movie I began to understand be careful what you wish for. Because it went beyond the, “Boy I hope …” Here is the way it starts out, you go to an open mic, “Boy I wish I can become a professional comedian.” You become a professional comedian, you are an opener, “Boy I wish I could become a feature.” You become a feature, “Boy I wish I could headline.” You are a headliner, “Boy I wish I could headline better clubs.”
You headline better clubs, “Boy I wish I could get an agent.” You get an agent, “Boy I wish I could move to L.A.” You move to L.A., “Boy I wish I could get on TV.” You get on TV doing your standup, “Boy I wish I could get a show.” You get a show and all of a sudden I had a show. Then I became worried about the details of it and wish I could control how I’m looked at. You don’t have control over how you are looked at. You have control over what you do and I think I’m I right in assuming that that’s the anxiety you felt was, I don’t have complete control over this situation, like you do when you are doing stand up. I am … there is a thousand things that could go wrong in my mind.
All of a sudden the problem with fantasy to me is you only picture the good things that are going to happen to you should you get this. When you actually get it you suddenly realize all the bad things in your mind that could happen. That’s one of the curses of fantasy is that there is the bad fantasy, there is the trauma fantasy. Talk me through what you relate to about that, about trauma fantasy about picturing the negative and the fears. Because you are a pretty anxious person as most comedians are.
Jimmy: Yeah, I’m anxious but I’m also patient, I also let things roll up my back a little. My wife is always impressed on how when its, “Hey it’s you or Gillian [inaudible 00:33:06] to host the show.” Hey they went with Gillian, “okay.” I might be bummed but I don’t dwell on it like other people do you hear about them, six months later I didn’t get that thing, move on. My wife is always impressed by that. Those are the traumatic fantasies, I’m going to get close and it won’t be me. Because it’s happened so many times. Like even with this Conan thing my dread was, “Yeah we are going to do it but its not going to air.”
I’m going to tell people, “Hey watch,” and then its not going to air, I’m going to look like a fool. It’s all that. I don’t really ever think I’m going to fail. I think I’m going to come through appearance on the tonight show in 2002 would say otherwise.
Paul: Let’s talk about that briefly. That …
Paul: Yes. Because the feelings attached to it is what I’m interested in. you were the first of my group of close friends I suppose other than Mark Roberts to do the Tonight Show. My first really peer in stand up to get the Tonight Show and you bombed. You were funny, but the audience didn’t either get you or like you. Walk me through what you remember about that. By the way which was my experience with my Comedy Central half hour, was the same thing I absolutely bombed. Fortunately they sweetened mine in post so they couldn’t tell.
Jimmy: It looks great.
Paul: You didn’t have the luxury of that because they don’t sweeten Tonight Show sets.
Jimmy: No, they don’t. If there was ever one they should have, it should have been mine. Although I’m by no means the worst set that was every on the Tonight Show, I know two that were worse and I will not give those people’s names.
Paul: You were outside the box of the Tonight Show. Tonight Show doesn’t like necessarily …
Paul: Yeah, if they do they have to be a certain … they have to be really mainstream. It’s pretty rare that somebody is really unique doing comedy on the Tonight Show.
Jimmy: I always thought that I would … speaking of fantasy. My fantasy was that I would be a guest promoting a project on the Tonight Show before I would ever do stand up on the Tonight Show.
Paul: Absolutely because then you are sitting doing panel and you don’t have to sit up there naked doing stand up.
Jimmy: I also thought I didn’t fit that mould, I didn’t belong on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Maybe with Johnny, maybe Johnny would have taken a bigger chance with me I don’t know, maybe not, maybe I wasn’t enough of a joke writer. I never really thought …
Paul: I think he would have really enjoyed your act.
Jimmy: I think so too. Again the fantasy is I have to think that because that’s my biggest hero.
Paul: What do you remember feeling as it occurred to you, I’m bombing?
Jimmy: It was happening prior to that. I was in my dressing room and you were out of town you could not come. My beautiful wife Danielle, my friends Mike Schmidt and Pat Francis were with me. My agents TJ, Mark Walter and Bruce Smith and then eventually Mike and Danielle and Pat went to the audience to watch it. Bruce and TJ stayed with me a little while. The show wasn’t going well. Jay … the monologue bombed, he bombed a death that night, then just by coincidence I happened to be going on … I happened to be getting my makeup done while they run a video clip that Dane Cook had done where he was some self-help guru going around Universal CityWalk and doing man on the street things.
Truth be told it wasn’t really funny, that’s not to say Danes not funny or whatever, its not that, I don’t want people to misunderstand that, “Oh it’s another Dane bashing.” That’s not my point. That particular thing was not necessarily on a show that already wasn’t going well. I’m getting my makeup done and all of a sudden you hear Jay yelling into the hallway. The makeup lady closed the door and I went, “Oh boy.” She goes, “He hasn’t done that in the seven years I have been working here.” I go, “What.” She goes, “I have never heard him yell about how the show is not going well.” I go, “Really?”
Then she goes. “Yeah, that’s weird.” Then he happened to do that, he may have done that during the commercial break. Then he came back went to this video with Dane and I’m still in the makeup chair.
Paul: How did that play with the audience? That died.
Jimmy: Horribly, died. Then the woman goes this isn’t helping. Like oh Jesus. Then the first quest was this mad … by the way it was supposed to be, I will never remember the names, it was supposed to be big name, Denis Leary and a band, I think it was Hootie & the Blowfish. I got called the day before, “Hey we are moving up your date, you are filling in for Hootie & the Blowfish. It’s big name, Denis Leary, Jimmy Pardo. Big name backed out, now Denis Leary is the A-guess, there is a middle guest and Jimmy Pardo. Denis Leary backs out. The day of it turns out to be this mad scientist guy, who would make a bomb out of crackers and backing soda.
Which is a great thing to show on February of 2002, right after, what’s it four or five months after 9/11. “Hey lets show you how to make a bomb, in water with sardines.” His first segment bombed, no pun intended. Then Jay goes, “We’ll be back with more, with him more.” I go, “More.” With the mad scientist. Then Marisa Tomei was the second. They came back with more of the mad scientist, nothing. Then Marisa Tomei came out, she was promoting that movie, I think it was called In the Bedroom or something. A terrific movie, she did okay. Now the show is going long because they spent so much time.
The reason I brought up all the people that were with me. Bruce and TJ came up and they said, “Hey this is running long, you might get bumped.” At the time I’m going, that ego in me was like, I’ve got to bring the funny I’m here, I can’t get bumped. My history is don’t get bumped because then it will never happen. You are going to be the guy who was never on the Tonight Show even though you were supposed to be. I’m going please don’t bump me, please don’t bump me, please don’t bump me. Now I see how the show is going, please bump me, please bump me, this is awful.
They came back to me and they said, “Hey the show is running long, your set is timing out at four minutes seconds, I apologize, your set is timing out at 4:30 there is 4:45 left in the show. If you are killing and you are going over on time and you see us give you the cut sign end on that joke and say goodnight. Now I had that anxiety. We’ll listen no worries, came in right on time.
Paul: Came in short probably. Came in at three minutes.
Jimmy: Came out Paul and part of our ego thinks here we go, they haven’t laughed in 50 minutes, here comes daddy. Part of your ego thinks that. I even look out and there is a guy in the audience and gives me the thumbs up and like, “Oh that’s nice.” I come out and I do my first line, which was I think at the time, tell you a little something about myself, but why not I’m the guy talking. Silence and then oh no, oh they still stink. I don’t think I got a laugh. With the exception of Part, Mike Schmidt and Danielle for the first two minutes. Then I forget what joke it was it kicked in. I had done the … you go around town and you rehearse the set. I had done it the night before where it went right according to plan.
Okay you do that line then I’ll get a laugh, you do this line there is your first applause break. You will do that line, laugh then here comes the second applause break. None of that was happening. I’m just talking. In my head I’m going, oh I apologize I was also told, hey you are very in the moment, Jay is not a fan of that, don’t acknowledge what’s happening stay to your set.
Paul: Don’t be yourself, because that is the heart of who you are, is … had this happened on the road, it would have been a memorable set. Because you would have addressed it and you would have made it funny.
Jimmy: Still … if you ever find this clip anywhere you can see the moment in me where I do a little smirk where it’s like I’m deciding do I go against what they said or do I just keep bombing and sadly I kept bombing. I should have, my joke in my head was, this is worse than the bomb with the mad scientist, or something along those lines. Calling back to how badly that thing did and it was bomb related. This is the second worse bomb of the night or something along those lines. I remember you could see the smirk in my face, oh acknowledge it they have asked you not to. They will sweeten it afterwards, stay smiling the people at home don’t know this isn’t working.
Paul: Do they sweeten their shows?
Jimmy: No, they don’t sweeten. In my head, they are not going to let this go as is. Then I came over and Jay goes, “Real funny, Jimmy real good job.” Then I missed another opportunity to say, “What set did you see?” Which I wish I would have said. Instead I just went, “Oh thanks a lot.” Then he went, “Thank you very much, goodnight everybody.” Because we were over on time. It was the emotions there … I know this is a long answer and I’m sorry.
Paul: That’s all right.
Jimmy: The emotions at the time were not what I felt a second later where I did not want to be alone. It was like, “Oh I just bombed.” I had to go out to Ventura and do a show getting ready for my half hour on Comedy Central which I was doing four days later. I had to go out to rehearse that set in Ventura and I just remember I begged Mike Schmidt who I think might have had plans with his wife that night. I said, “I need you to drive with me, I need you to drive with Ventura with me, I cannot be in my car for an hour by myself right now.” I just bombed on … you are grabbing be brass ring, its the Tonight Show, its the thing we all dreamt of as children and it didn’t go well.
Paul: Had you still been drinking you would have gotten hammered that night.
Jimmy: No question, in fact Paul I think I said that night. “I’m glad I’m not drinking.” Because we are going back to what we talked about I never had a craving for it. That was maybe a night that I did because, every fear came true. Oh I made the tonight show and oh I’m probably going to bomb if I ever get it. Well fuck, I did. I would have gotten hammered. Grateful that I wasn’t drinking and again I begged Mike to go with me, he was kind enough to do that. I went out to Ventura, right back in the groove. I had a great set. Got my set together for Comedy Central, felt great and then I had to go and do the Bob and Tom show in the Bahamas the next day. Where Tom is like, “Hey can we talk about that?” I go, “Yes.” Then I had to four days explain my …
Paul: Had you done the Comedy Central half hour yet?
Jimmy: No, Tonight Show was on a Friday, went and did the Bahamas and then on Wednesday was the Comedy Central half hour.
Paul: How did that go?
Jimmy: Dummy does 45 minutes instead of 30 because it went so great. It was also coming off the heels of this Tonight … “Oh now I have a room full of people loving me, I’m going to stay up here.” I gave them too much material, they ended up in my opinion editing a version of that show, that’s a little choppy.
Paul: That seems to be most comedians’ complaint about that. I guess I lucked out in that I bombed and came up short and they didn’t have anything to edit out. They just had to sweeten it.
Jimmy: Did they send you back out there?
Paul: They did because I forgot or I screwed up a bit or something. They sent me back out for like two or three minutes. I was fortunate enough that I had gotten sober a month before that. Just a lot of my fears and self-obsession had began … I just felt this peace that whatever is meant to be is meant to be. I was so relaxed going out there. Yes I started to panic when I was eating it. I was depressed when it was done. I was lucky enough to have Jimmy [inaudible 00:45:12] his wife there with me went out to dinner afterwards. They just kept assuring me it was the audience, what you did was special.
Jimmy: You took some chances, you opened up with some unique … you swung for the fences out of the box that was either going to kill or bomb.
Paul: It bombed. It was a precursor to the republican satire that I do. It was that character but not in his dress. They either got it and didn’t like it, or didn’t get it, it dug a hole that it took me about 15 minutes to dig out of. Let’s go back to …
Jimmy: Yes. I know we are bouncing all over and it’s my fault.
Paul: No, it’s all good. What I want to talk about is today how is it that you deal with anxiety and do you feel like you ever get depression, you might be prone to depression? Or is that not ever really your thing. Let me ask you this. There is a survey that we have on the website where I ask people, describe the most common negative thoughts that you have.
Jimmy: That people wouldn’t like me. Isn’t that why we are comedians? Isn’t that part of why we want to get on stage? I go to therapy every Tuesday and we talk about this and we talk about my four years of high school. Again going back to Attention Must be Paid. Me begging to be liked, I was … you familiar with this, I was four feet tall in high school. I’m five foot four now. I was a tiny guy trying to do anything to make friends.
Paul: Sadly one of those things was wearing a bike shirt.
Jimmy: That was actually a good day.
Paul: Was it?
Jimmy: That was a good day, bike shirt was a good day. I was in a band at that point. I was on stage …
Paul: Rainbow Bridge.
Jimmy: Rainbow Bridge was rocking out roller rink, the people enjoying me. I know I’m bouncing all over but that was my one regret is that I didn’t embrace … I didn’t wave my freak flag as they would say. I was trying so freaking hard to fit in.
Paul: To be something you weren’t.
Jimmy: To be again to be Paul Reiser or Robert Klein the high school version of that. Trying to not embrace the fact that I liked music and that I wanted to be in a band. That I liked baseball cards, I wasn’t a comic book guy, that I liked comedy. I liked [fonzy 00:47:44] and instead of hiding that shit I tried to fit in with everybody. Whether it be trying out for the basketball team or the wresting team, or the baseball team where I had no skills.
Paul: Oh do I know that pain. You think then instead of seeing your uniqueness, you focused on what you are not and you beat yourself up for it. That is to me at the heart of the situational mental illness, is that warped perception that we should be something else instead of embracing what we are, even our negative feelings about ourselves. Because in my mind negative feelings about yourself will never go away completely. What you can change about them is how you react to your thoughts when they pop up, whether or not you give credence to it. Whether you try to stop it from happening. Or whether you just embrace it and go, “Oh that’s that little voice in my head that was planted, it’s a lie I know not to listen to that.”
Jimmy: I’m able to do that now.
Paul: That’s what amazes me about you, is that you and I suppose that’s a credit to the therapy that you have gone through. What are some of the things that you’ve … breakthroughs if that’s not too traumatic of a word that you’ve had in therapy things that …?
Jimmy: Can I just say this real fast on the off chance that … I had great friends in high school, they were great friends but they weren’t the most popular people in school, to me …
Paul: You weren’t doing good enough.
Jimmy: I wasn’t doing good enough. I say this out loud on the off chance any of the people I was friends with in high school, hear this. I cherish those friendships.
Paul: You couldn’t do it then because you had that Groucho Marx thing where if they are friends with me how good a people can they be?
Paul: Which to me is symptomatic of the disease of … disease is maybe a little dramatic. That core message that gets planted in us that we are not enough, we are not doing enough, we are not good enough. Life is passing us by. Whatever all that.
Jimmy: By the way my parents always directed me towards the people that were my friends. My parents were terrific, in that … “Look at all the friends you have in theatre.” “Yeah, that’s not the guys, that’s not the basketball …”
Paul: What is it, how do you if you are a kid out there is there anything that can be done? I’m just asking this question out loud is it just something you had time.
Jimmy: I think so, right.
Paul: Yeah, time and therapy maybe.
Jimmy: Or listen to your parents. I will now be able to share these experiences with my son at the same time as help him. No just be like, “Hey your dad had it tough too suck it up.” It will be even more than my parents did of saying, “The friends you have in theatre you have things in common with them. You enjoy their company. Don’t you love being with them?” “Yes I do mom.” “Then what’s wrong?” “They are not the prom king.” Again it’s the Groucho Marx thing it’s the perfect way to put it. Again I just wanted to address that because I had terrific friends in high school that I cherished at the time and I do now.
Again wanted more because I wanted to be on the prom court and why? I could have a photo in a year book 30 years … oh boy. What breakthroughs did I have, I don’t know. Also I use you as an example and we joke about it on my podcast, every time you are on we talk about it. Whenever I see you or we meet new people you and I we always share the story of me throwing your golf club, we are on a golf course, I hit a bad shot, I throw my club, “God damn it.” Before the club is even on its way down I turn to you and I apologize for throwing my club.
Paul: In a humorous way.
Jimmy: That’s me in a nutshell. That right there, whatever that golf shot is, is me. I go from zero to 60 and I go bananas and then from 60 to zero is then I apologize and realize that I have made a mistake. Whether it’s lashing out because I didn’t get my needs met, I didn’t get the answer I was looking for.
Paul: You are blinded by fear, or anger or resentment, whatever.
Jimmy: It then clicks and then I end up apologizing. It’s interesting because I came straight from therapy to here to get prepped. She made a great point and maybe again it might not be unlike. Maybe she has been saying this for seven years I don’t know but today it clicked. For four years in high school you took shit, you took it, you wanted to be friends with these people that ignored you and you are not going to be ignored now. When something goes wrong, you know what, “Hey fuck you.” Then oh that’s an overreaction that’s yelling at Jerry O’Connor, that’s getting mad at my dust. Who I’m sure are fine people now as they are adults.
Me yelling at the guy at the Volkswagen dealership for doing nothing wrong is me yelling at those people in high school. Then it immediately goes, oh boy you’ve just made a fool of yourself and then now I have to sheepishly go back in and make everybody 10 times more uncomfortable by being a 45 year old man vulnerably saying, “Listen I need to apologize for the way I just lashed out at you. I’m having a bad day and I took it out on you, I recognize that you were trying to be helpful.” Then he goes, “Whatever dude.” Then once again my needs are not met because I’ve just …
Paul: Because you are anticipating a result that you think the apologizing will get you.
Jimmy: Right instead I get kind of …
Paul: Which means you weren’t really apologizing, what you were trying to get was, well there was an apology but it was also buried in expectation that this person is going to come around and see really what a great guy I am.
Paul: Which taints it in some way because it’s not a pure apology if you are …
Jimmy: I think initially it is a pure apology and then its not when you don’t get what you want.
Paul: Then in this circumstance you did purely apologize afterwards because after the guy snubbed your apology then you apologized again just to keep your side of the street clean.
Jimmy: I got in my car and I called his voicemail and apologized again.
Paul: Then he came around to you and that to me is what is beautiful in the world in a nutshell is if we put our expectations and our needs … our ego is a better way of saying it out of the way and just do the right thing, its amazing the way that the world greets us. If we put expectations on things and try to manipulate things into getting what we think is best, it almost always backfires or it isn’t good enough. Or just creates then the next ladder where we had this wrong I want the next wrong. Realizing that there really are not wrongs it’s just the fucking present moment and enjoy yourself and brace yourself and try to not be a fucking dick to other people. You’ve read my book try to not be a fucking dick to other people.
Jimmy: I’ve read your book, what’s the matter with six?
Paul: Jimmy loves to quote moments where we have been with strangers and I make a joke and they stare in silence at how unfunny my joke was. Jimmy and I were golfing with … you want to tell the story?
Jimmy: You had won some golf retreats down in Oceanside I believe. We went out there we were teamed up with two guys and I had maybe …
Paul: You guys were talking about baseball so immediately I feel left out. Tried to chime in to make it seem like, “Hey I’m one of you guys.”
Jimmy: You said the thing about the Braves is oh Maddux and Glavine and who is the third guy, Smoltz, they have got a hell of a bullpen. These guys go yeah and then drive away. Then I turn to you I go, “Paul the bullpen are the guys that come in after the starters, those are starters.” You are like, “Oh.” Then on the next tee I hit the greatest drive in the world and then I hit my next short six inches and then I turn to these guys and I go, “You guys have read my book, how to turn a great drive into a shitty hole.” Yeah, Pardo, laugh Jimmy laugh, laugh, laugh. Then you go, “You guys have read my book, what’s the matter with six?” Crickets, crickets, crickets.
Paul: God that weekend with you it was one of the most fun weekends I have ever had. You and I laughed so hard that we both almost started vomiting, we had to pull the car over and we both almost started vomiting.
Jimmy: Also we lost our putters, we had brand new putters. Also you got, I remember oddly enough another wake up call that you were involved with. We were down there we were watching the masters, because you had the second collapse only to Greg Norman that weekend. We were watching the masters and a guy walked …
Paul: I was about to beat you we were keeping score for the whole weekend and I was up by 14 shots and I think took a 15 on a hole or something like that.
Jimmy: I know and then I ended up winning by two strokes.
Paul: Yes, yeah.
Jimmy: We are sitting and we are having a delicious lunch and we are watching the masters and some guy walks in wearing a masters’ shirt from the year before and I go, “Look at this fucking idiot. Look at you, oh you got your masters shirt on huh, look at you walking around with your masters’ shirt.” You go, “So what?” I tried to defend myself, “Oh you don’t walk around with …” Maybe a day later it was like, “So what? What the fuck are you … who cares? You wear a Kiss concert shirt, to a Kiss concert, why can’t that guy wear his masters’ shirt?” At the time it was just so … I don’t know what the hell was the matter with me.
Who cares? The way you said, so what was so perfect. Of course I got defensive and you are wrong, let me explain why he is dumb for wearing that shirt. Yeah, so what? Wear your shirt.
Paul: So what? That’s the thing that … once of the things I love about you, is you’ve worked on your self and you haven’t let that negative part of yourself destroy you or consume you like a lot of comedians do. Yet you are as funny, funnier than you have ever been. I think that if anybody is out there and listening and they are a comedian, or a musician or any type of artist I really believe that you don’t have to be negative to be edgy or artistic. I think it works against you, I think your art can come from a more pure place if you’ve done work on yourself. You thought if you went into therapy, you were going to be less funny, right. Wasn’t there that little thought in the back of your …?
Jimmy: I thought the combination of stopping drinking and therapy was going to zombie me out a little bit.
Paul: Yes, and you are funnier than you have ever been.
Jimmy: More open, more free.
Paul: You take more chances.
Jimmy: Take more chances, certainly. I thought I was taking chances drunk on stage, not drunk tipsy, I was only drunk twice on stage. Larry Wilmore a terrific comic writer also it just goes hand in hand with what you just said for a young up and coming comedian. He gave me what may be the greatest advice in comedy. Other than stay true to your voice, find who you are, be unique. Larry said to me one night, not every audience member is dumb. You don’t have to shoot down every answer they say. Which goes with what you just said of that negativity, yes that’s easy. Eh, dummy, look at you, you are dumb, nice answer.
You asked him a question and he gave you the answer he is not dumb. I remember it because I was still a young comic when he gave me that advice and it reaches to this day sometimes when somebody says something in the audience. Something will come up you don’t need to say that back, that guy didn’t do anything wrong. I think so many young comedians think that’s crowd work. They ask a question, “Who likes to party? Woo who, slut.” What the what? How do you make that jump? She’s a slut because she likes to go to a party? Yeah, you’ve got to laugh but what does that mean?
Paul: I think that goes back to the sick thinking is that it’s … and this pervades not just the stand up aspect, just in terms of viewing life that it’s me versus them. Forgetting that we really are all connected. All humanity really is on some level all connected and if I look at you as just somebody that’s in my way who is getting … If you get something it takes away from me. I heard somebody one time your success is not my failure. That really struck a chord with me because I have such a fear of abandonment and such a fear that I’m not enough, I’m not doing enough, the world is passing me by, I’m not in synch with the universe.
When I see other people get successful sometimes my initial reaction is to feel threatened by that instead of saying, “That’s my friend, I should be happy for that person.” It’s such a sick headspace to get into where we measure ourselves by comparing. I think in the absence of doing anything beneficial for the world getting out of ourselves, helping others, that’s our default is we are going to go to comparing ourselves to others. It’s a really unhealthy dangerous place to be.
Jimmy: I don’t know, I was only in the real job world for a short period of time. I don’t know if it exists outside of show business as much as it does in show business. It’s hard not to compare yourself.
Paul: It’s the most natural thing in the world.
Jimmy: I wonder if I’m working at [inaudible 01:01:34] and I guess its true maybe I’m stating the obvious, “Look at Bob he got another promotion.” You are not even in that department. I’m wondering it must happen there to, I only know it in show business. When I worked in the record store, record business, I don’t think I cared about anybody because I was so self-involved and trying to find my own way and not be found out as a fraud.
Paul: It goes back to that fantasy too that you are only picturing the one dimension of that person in promotion. That person might be made sick by now the job responsibilities that they have to do. They may have to work underneath somebody who berates them everyday, you don’t know all the details of it. It’s so much easier to just find the gratitude in what we have than to obsess about where we should be instead of where we are. It’s a lot easier said than done.
Jimmy: We are okay, I just kicked something. Its funny when I worked for MCA records between I think it was `87 and `89 I got hired out of a record store and I got right into a sales rep job. Which for a guy that was in the record business, or working the record store that again was the brass right. I’m working for a label. I have free concerts, free movie, not free movie, free records, free CDs. I didn’t start at the mailroom. I didn’t then work up to the guy putting up posters in the record stores, I went right to sales rep and then from there it would be A&R. I skipped four steps.
There was a guy there who was the merchandizing guy whose name I wouldn’t give. He had anger towards me and I never understood it. I was like, “Why is this guy calling me names? Why does this guy not like me?” By the way again when I said, I don’t want to be found out to be a fraud I was in over my head. I went from, hey that’s a great album, bring it up on the cash register and talking about Boston for 30 minutes with that guy. To now I need to meet a quota, I need to have a sales outlook all of that. This guy is pissed off at me and I’ll I’m thinking of I wish I had that job. I wish I was the guy putting up posters.
I wish I was the guy going to the record store and stapling Dennis DeYoung pictures on the wall and talking about sticks for an afternoon and he wanted my job. I would have switched … if they had come to me and said, “We are going to switch you and John, yes.” It wasn’t till years later that I was like, “That’s why that guy hated me?” I got out of nowhere took his promotion.
Paul: Its funny there was times when were tapping Dinner and a Movie and for one reason or another I’ll sit out a segment and I’m always so thrilled to be able to do that. Because I could just get to seat, I don’t have to think, I get to enjoy my co-hosts and not do anything for an hour. Yet if it had been the other way around I would be sitting there … if I wasn’t on the show I would be thinking, “Why can’t I get in there?” Yet when you get in there then you just want a vacation. You are not working you just want to work, you are working, you just want a vacation. How do you find that appreciation for what you really?
Jimmy: My Country, 'Tis of Thee.
Paul: That’s right. A couple of things I want to talk to you about. I know it’s delicate, I don’t really know any other way to bring it up I’m just going to do it. Your brother-in-law Andrew Koenig took his life about two years ago, he suffered from depression.
Jimmy: One year ago.
Paul: What is … you and I have both had friends take their lives, but I’ve never had a relative successful commit suicide. Is there anything you took out of that? Is it worth talking about? I’m I just being sensationalistic by bringing it up? I probably should have asked you this before we started rolling.
Jimmy: I’m not 100% talking about it, I think I would best leave that for immediate family.
Paul: Did you have any signs that something was seriously wrong?
Paul: Was he reaching out to anybody before it happened?
Paul: He wasn’t talking about his feelings?
Jimmy: Andrew was a pretty open guy and he was a pretty … I called him a hippie, he was a vegan who lived in Venice and who marched to his own drum.
Paul: Did a lot of activism.
Jimmy: Did a lot of activism and did a lot of work for other people. It was a lifestyle that I jokingly would mock, but also admired. In my crazy little … everything is in a little box, everything needs to be neat. I don’t wear flip-flops and I mock others that do. He would wear flip-flops. We would talk about our feelings. Him taking about his feelings prior to that wasn’t unique, a long way to get to answer your question. I personally did not find it, he was always pretty open about his feelings. I don’t know …
Paul: I have a theory about people that have depression and what we need. I believe that there are two fronts that have to be address. The emotional front and the physical front. If we physical suffer from depression, no amount of sharing your feelings is going to help you. It’s like the diabetic can’t talk his way into producing insulin. I think that Andrew might have just … had he gone off, was he taking meds? Had he gone off meds?
Jimmy: I think its public knowledge that he went of his meds. I think that was in the news and such.
Paul: That is … to anybody listening, I don’t claim to be an expert on this show, I just can share my experience and I can tell you, I don’t like taking meds, I have said this before on the show. I have tried going off them and it was disastrous and I am back on them and if you are out there and you are going to try to go off your meds, just know it can be a whirlpool that you may never get back out of. Because when you get really depressed then you don’t fee like helping yourself and your brain tells you there is no hope.
You are caught in something that is of your control and you are just not good enough to get yourself out of it. When in reality that physical depression warps your perception and it saps your energy and it’s a really dangerous thing. I’m not saying people should go on meds I’m just saying …
Jimmy: I’m thinking they should I’ll go the other way. I’m not on them but I have been around enough people where if it’s out there why not? It its there, if something is there to cure a chemical imbalance why not? Yes you are going to feel weird. I’m speaking from experience from watching and hearing not personal. The first six months might be weird. You might start feeling differently and you might feel like maybe you are out of it or you are unfocused, but work through that. Then I think you are going to really appreciate what they do.
Paul: It took me trying about eight to ten different meds to settle on the ones that had the least side effects that I could dial in to feel the most normal. The psychiatrist that I work with says, it doesn’t make you a different you, it makes you the real you. It doesn’t make you euphoric it just gives you a chance to be able to experience euphoria. I think people that don’t understand meds that’s what they think. They think you are taking … like its taking valium, that I definitely have a big question mark for people taking stuff like that.
Jimmy: I’m taking specifically on antidepressants, that’s what I’m specifically peaking on. I agree with you and especially growing up on the south side of Chicago.
Paul: You are a fag.
Jimmy: “What are you doing? Hey you’ve got to take that huh?” Yeah, that guys does and that’s okay.
Paul: I have gotten a couple of emails from people that say, I want to go into therapy or I’m thinking of taking meds but I’m afraid of what my family thinks and I just want to say, “Please just get help, don’t fall into that trap.”
Jimmy: You know what your family thinks, your family thinks you are going to the driving range from 4:00 to 5:00 on Thursdays.
Paul: That’s what I said, “Why do thy have to know?”
Jimmy: That’s what they think, “I’m going to hit the range on Thursday’s.”
Paul: The fact that your family would judge you for doing that is in it of itself tells me that you should be getting some type of help. Because you grew up around close-minded people that are afraid of what everybody thinks.
Jimmy: If you are thinking about … I got into therapy because I … started as soon as I … I had that horrible breakup and then when I stopped drinking. I had two reasons to jump into it to try to spin me back in the right direction. I can’t speak on just living life and going, “I need therapy.” I have had two things happen in my life to make me go. My point is that if you are driving around and you go, “I’m going to write Paul [inaudible 01:11:40] a letter saying I should go into therapy.” Yes do it because I can’t speak more highly of it. It’s a great hour a week for me. Again if I was found to need meds I would take them. I’m better than you and I don’t need them. I’ve seen the work that they have done.
Paul: One of the questions that I have on the website is, are there any behaviors that you engage in that you wish you didn’t?
Jimmy: Any behaviors that I …?
Paul: Engage in that you wish you didn’t because you … I don’t know is there anything that you are comfortable talking about?
Jimmy: We’ve talked about this on my podcast, humorously is that I do mask any fears or anything that I have by shopping. I do have a shopping addiction that I wish I did not have. By the way it’s not the shopping, it’s the hunt.
Paul: It almost always is for any person that’s addicted to something, its once you … for me and I shared this on your podcast when I used to go score weed, I would get high just driving to the dealer’s house.
Jimmy: You did not share that on my podcast that must been on some else’s.
Paul: Oh really.
Jimmy: Yeah, we talked about guitars and cigars.
Paul: Forget the hunt it’s that medication of I’m no longer thinking about my fears because I’m focused on this. I’m going to get that Nirvana LP.
Jimmy: The vinyl.
Paul: The vinyl, which is one of the phases I went through. I cut you off. Shopping you told me that you bought seven pairs of running shoes in two days?
Jimmy: Two to three days. It was all about just going round to find them. Just that or … oh I need, this happened the other day. I went to use the key, our house was built in 1952 I don’t know when they replaced the doorknob on the front door. I went to do it and the key got stuck and I went, “Oh now we need a new doorknob.” I went shopping for doorknobs for four days. Looking at, “Oh that one is good, oh look at that one. I want to get that one.” Buy a fucking doorknob. It is its like I get to go to [inaudible 01:14:05], I get to go to Home Depot, I’m going to go to the local guy.
Paul: I get to not be inside my own head.
Jimmy: That’s it I get to go and look. Then I’m looking and I’m going just pick one. By the way I didn’t pick any, I came home my key didn’t get stuck and I went, “Oh good I don’t need a new doorknob.”
Paul: That hilarious.
Jimmy: It was four days of looking at doorknobs. By the way they are all the same, Paul.
Paul: Yeah, looking for something then sometimes becomes I’m afraid I’m not going to make the perfect decision and then you become mired in that. I know that feeling of … you become paralyzed because you are afraid you are not going to do the perfect thing.
Jimmy: Which is why I bought seven pairs of running shoes. I said, “Oh these have got to be the best.” Then I bring them home and I walk around, “These are horrible.” That’s also where I’m caught wit the running shoes, I want a good deal but I want the right shoe. “Oh that’s the right one, that’s 10 bucks more.” Spend the $10 you weirdo.” I wish I didn’t have that weird obsession to have the perfect running shoe, because I don’t. I also don’t need it. I’m not running a marathon I’m running around my neighborhood.
Paul: Better than my dad who would jog inside the house. When I was outside. I might even have been getting high with some friends of mine and its dark and the windows are open in my house. They just see my dad … my dad would jog, he would lift his knees unusually high, even though he was only walking, literally a toddler could have blown past him. They are like, “Why is your dad jogging around the house?” I was like, “I guess he prefers to do that rather than jogging outside.”
Jimmy: Can I share something? When I started working in Vegas which would be the mid-90s, I can kind of relate to that, I would run the halls of the hotel because I was embarrassed to go down to the gym.
Paul: That’s more embarrassing than running the halls?
Jimmy: Nobody would see me running the halls. They would just think maybe I’m running back to my room or something.
Paul: Taking your pulse.
Jimmy: I didn’t take my pulse I’m not on a `50s movie. Till this day I have never stopped to think about it. That was my mindset, I’m uncomfortable going to the gym. I will run up here. I would run. Those halls in Vegas are fairly long. I would run the five spokes, I would go down a level run those.
Paul: You changed levels, okay I thought you were just staying on the same floor.
Jimmy: By elevator.
Paul: Not stairs.
Jimmy: Not the stairs Paul you might get a workout. I would take the elevator down a floor.
Paul: Oh, that’s so fantastic.
Jimmy: I know where your dad is coming from. Certainly if he is lifting his legs that high, he can’t bring that out in to the sidewalk.
Paul: He might have even had a cigarette with him while he was jogging, I wish I was kidding.
Jimmy: Maybe he wasn’t even jogging, maybe he was doing something else you don’t even know he was doing.
Paul: Yeah, maybe he was just line-dancing alone. My dad loved to dance. We’ll Jim I want to … is it Jim?
Paul: I want to thank you so much. Is there anything you want to plug before we wrap up?
Jimmy: The people can listen to Never Not Funny pardcast.com.
Paul: Fantastic podcast. They can listen to a good portion of it for free.
Jimmy: You can listen to 20 minutes free and then if you want to hear the whole episode you can either buy that episode or buy a subscription which is $20 for 26 episodes. It’s a comedy podcast, we are silly and ridiculous.
Paul: It is funny.
Jimmy: We very rarely dive into anything of importance.
Paul: You get great guests, John Hamm, Conan O’Brien, you want to name a couple …
Jimmy: You, Janet Varney, Craig Bierko was recently on, the great actor [inaudible 01:17:56], Rich Sommer, Patton Oswalt, Paul F. Tompkins. I recently had a musician named Ellis Paul on who was terrific. My goal is to entertain and I’m lucky that my friends or the people that are willing to come on some of them are also famous. My goal is to entertain.
Paul: Mission accomplished because it’s a great podcast. I have said it a thousand times before, I’ll say it again, it makes me giddy when I see you perform. Because sometimes I just sit there and think I’m a really good friend to that guy, we are best friends. That is one of the joys of being in show business is having close friends that are really talented. I want to thank you for opening up, answering some questions. It might have been less than comfortable. To anybody out there don’t try to do this alone, podcasting by the way. Don’t try to defeat your depression or your mental illness by yourself. I don’t know anybody that’s ever been able to do it. Open up there is a lot of people that know exactly how you feel or at least can related to how you feel. Don’t give up hope, you are not alone. Thanks for listening.
Don’t forget to go to the website mentalpod.com you could also type in mentalillnesshappyhour.com but you might get writers cramp. Go check it out, read the message board, post ask questions, answer questions, take a survey, get crazy or stare at the wall with your jaw open.
End of show.