by John Wenzel on February 21, 2008
Comedian Daniel Tosh plays the Boulder Theater on Saturday. Photo from Time Out New York.
Daniel Tosh lives the comedy good life — at least as good as life gets in the relatively thankless world of stand-up comedy. Despite not being a household name, Tosh is a college favorite that headlines venues across the country, including a sold out Boulder Theater on Sat., Feb. 23.
His fresh-faced, frequently rapid-fire routine and conversational demeanor belie his biting punchlines, which were showcased on last year’s “Completely Serious” and various “Tonight Show” appearances.
We talked to Tosh in advance of this weekend’s Boulder date.
Where are you at the moment?
I’m at my house in Hermosa Beach in L.A.
I know you love to surf. Are you pretty close to the ocean?
I would say eight short blocks to the shore, so the number of steps I’m going to say… I don’t know, a lot. But I’m an avid surfer, almost my whole life. I grew up in Florida surfing. Any time I can mix surfing and snowboarding with work, I do.
Are you going snowboarding in Colorado when you’re here?
Oh yeah, if I have time.
I’ve heard you referred to as a college comic, but what does that really mean? Do you tailor your act when you play colleges?
I think it’s that college students don’t have any trouble relating to what I’m talking about on stage. I don’t have an act that’s about my wife and kids, which I think a lot of times is the type of comedy that some of these colleges get. A lot them are like “clean comics” that come to the school, and people don’t like them at all. My goal is not to suck. I will customize the show within degrees of that, but for the most part it’s, “You get what you get.”
You’re playing the Boulder Theater on Saturday, but have you played Denver before?
The comedy club I’ve always done is Comedy Works there in Denver and have performed there for years. I loved it. It’s a good location and it’s always a fun downtown. It’s easy and there’s a very cool wannabe-big-city vibe. It’s a great city but still has that homey vibe to it.
Does your surfing and snowboarding inform your comedy?
Outside of a few things that I like to actually physically do, I sit at home with my dog. So no, for comedy I just make things up. My life is boring enough to live so I don’t want to relive it on stage.
Are you still doing material from your disc “Completely Serious?? Do people ever ask for jokes from that?
It’s always bizzaro when people want to hear specific jokes. They’re like, “Do the joke that I know how it’s going to end.” I don’t refuse to do that, but for the most part I just do what I’m currently working on. There’s maybe 10 to 15 percent older stuff, but for the most part it’s all new.
Do you ever use your marketing degree these days?
I’ve never used it. Although I did sit in one interview one time. I fell asleep watching a training video.
What made you want to get into comedy?
It has to do with where I grew up. Florida is a very depressing state — flat, hot and dumb. Not a great combination. I actually am OK with Florida on the Atlantic side. There’s culture, you know, my dog’s name is Castro. I have a lot of Cuban influences.
Who do you like now?
I used to enjoy watching David Letterman as a kid but I never really had a strong comedy influence until I actually started doing stand-up in college, and then it was just because of people who were successful at the time. Dave Attell and a handful of comics… I used to listen to a ton of Bill Hicks CDs. Other than that, (comedy) just seemed like a bizarre little pastime. And it wasn’t even with any regularity. I’d just go up at an open mic night because you got to hang out with a bunch of other people that thought they were really funny.
But as far as current stand-ups?
I love Louis C.K. Um… it’s always bad when I can’t think of any… Jim Gaffigan, Todd Glass, there’s a bunch. I still like a lot of the older comics. I loved Mitch (Hedberg) and Steven Wright and all those guys. Steve Martin’s brilliant…
Like a lot of comedians you’ve done some TV pilots. Is there anything in the works now?
I’m kind of on hold with a show we’re trying to sell, but I’ve failed miserably at a lot of pilots. I don’t think I’ve gotten into double digits yet but I’m definitely above 7 or 8 right now, which is exciting because people are like, “Stuff on TV’s bad right now.” But you should see what DIDN’T get on TV. I’m not at a point where I’m bitter and if this new idea gets passed on or fails it’s OK.
John Wenzel is the editor Get Real Denver, the co-editor of the Reverb music blog and an A&E reporter for The Denver Post. Check out his book “Mock Stars: Indie Comedy and the Dangerously Funny” or his Twitter feed of random song titles.