J: How do your ideas for material come to you? How
frequently or strenuously do you write material?
WC: I read a book, I think it was Jerry Seinfeld -- Iím already a type A
workaholic anyway -- I remember reading a book about Jerry Seinfeld,
that may or may not have been accurate, but from what I hear itís
completely accurate, that said he used to set his alarm in the morning
and get up and write Ö for four hours and then go back to bed. Seinfeld
was asked what he tells young people when they ask how to do comedy,
what are the tricks and what is his advice. His only advice was Ďdo the
work.í Thatís all there is. There arenít shortcuts or ways to move
faster. Itís just do the work until youíre really good.
So I work every day kind of hard. Thereís no comedians that we love and
admire, that are successful, who are not [working]. The most successful
ones are the most hardworking.
J: Do you follow that advice -- setting the alarm and spending three or
four hours writing?
WC: I wake up early anyway, and in L.A. everything closes at 2 [a.m.],
so itís not like Iím staying out -- in New York, youíre out till 5 a.m.
Here, I usually get up pretty early in the morning. Iíll listen to my
set from the night before. I usually try to tape record if I can. Iíll
listen to my sets, see whatís working and expand bits that are doing
really well, and try to fix bits that arenít quite working. At the
Comedy Store, Sunday through Wednesday are nights Iíll work on new stuff
and then try to do ĎAí stuff on the weekends. On the road Ö A lot of
comics are like that, because thereís so much time in the hotel room --
so Iíll work on stuff then. Iím always writing down premises, ideas and
stuff that I usually donít get to.
J: When youíre at home, does other life stuff take up that time?
WC: Yes. I audition during the day and pitch TV shows and other things
that get in the way. I write for TV shows also, so sometimes itís hard
to get to my own stand-up. So itís great being on the road. Whenever I
get a gig thatís in the middle of Ohio, Iím so excited because Iím just
going to be in a hotel room for five days and get to catch up on all the
stand-up I want to work on.
J: Have you gotten any other good pieces of advice from veteran
comedians youíve met?
WC: ĎDo the workí is probably my favorite. Itís so simple but also so
empowering. People sit around and worry ĎAm I going to do this? What do
I need to do to make it? Why arenít I getting late-night spots?í They
sit around at the clubs for seven hours talking shit about other
comedians. Just go write some jokes. [Seinfeld] worked the hardest out
of his generation. Itís not an accident that heís the biggest. Itís not
Laugh at your own jokes. Itís not like laughing hysterically at your own
jokes while youíre onstage but there are a lot of times when we sit down
to write and think, ĎDo people think this is funny? People wonít think
this is funny.í If you think itís funny, it will work. I used to agonize
about wanting comics to think Iím funny, old people to think Iím funny,
younger people -- theyíre on Facebook or MySpace. Ö If something makes
me laugh, it will play well on you and it will be fine. A comedian named
Argus Hamilton told me that. Heís Ö a big Comedy Store guy from the
1970s. He saw me on stage doing a bunch of jokes, and said, ĎYou didnít
think those are funny.í Ö Argus has been on the Tonight Show more than
any other comic to this day. Ö He was incredibly successful. He just saw
me on stage and told me, ĎThose are funny but you donít think those are
funny.í [laughs]. He always has really incredible advice.
Someone told me to watch Bill Burr. Out here, sometimes itís hard to see
all the New York comics. Someone telling me to check out Bill Burr
changed my life.
J: I can tell you Iíve raved about him on [JesterJournal.com].
WC: Heís universally in any comicís top three, easily. Ö Itís 20 years
of really hard work. Heís whip-smart, not afraid to be smart. Itís just
bulletproof. Even when I see him working on stuff at the Comedy Store,
and itís not developed, itís still better than most peopleís developed
stuff. Itís just really great.
J: You seem to prefer shorter things with a quick payoff, to longer more
observational stories. Why is that?
WC: I donít think there are rules, like having to be dirty to be funny.
Brian Regan makes me cry, tears going down my face funny, and he is
completely clean. Thereís a comedian in L.A. who will be massive,
Sebastian Maniscalco, who had a half-hour and has been on Craig
Fergusonís show a lot, and has just taped an hour. Heís just so funny.
Hysterically funny Ė does not say anything dirty, does not ever talk
about sex Ė just when you think dirty is funny, clean is sometimes
Just when I think short, quick payoffs are funny, then Iíll watch Dana
Gould or Paul Tompkins who will go off Ö or even Adam Carolla on the
radio, will go off on these long stories that take four minutes, and
then the punch is worth it. Or Jim Jeffries, who is on ďDown and Dirty.Ē
Everythingís different on everyone. I do not tell long stories. I never
have. I donít know why. My jokes are really short and have really quick
payoffs because thatís what I think I enjoy. There are some really great
comedians Ö and then there are comedians who do jokey stories, like Greg
Giraldo, who tells a coherent story but itís all these little perfect
Dana Gould Ė I almost had to quit comedy when I saw him. He did this bit
Ö heís one of my favorites Ö about how he ran into his ex-girlfriend and
heís just talking, that she was with her new husband and they were good.
ĎYou know, Iím OK with it. Theyíre probably home right now watching TV.
She always loves TV.í That goes on for at least four minutes, describing
them at home, their home life. ĎTheyíre probably sitting on the couch.
Theyíre watching Lost. Sheís eating some ice cream.í Then he slowly
starts getting into, ĎSheís probably wearing little cutoff jean shorts,
probably barefoot.í After five minutes of that, he screams, ĎStop
fucking my girlfriend!í Itís one of the funniest things Iíve ever seen.
He did t his whole Ö thing on stage with silence. I like to get a laugh
every 20 seconds.
J: That requires a lot of patience.
WC: John Mulaney is another really good example. He tells these long,
incredibly well crafted stories. They are just awesome. Al Madrigal does
that too. I donít think that one [style] is necessarily better than the
other. Good is good.
J: How is Jim Nortonís show taped? Is it like a club performance or a
little different than that?
WC: Itís a gorgeous theater in New Jersey. Itís about 800 seats. It was
pretty massive and really a gorgeous theater. He really did it right.
There was rusty steel on the stage. He had an awesome DJ and picked all
his favorite dirty comedians. He did it his way. So many times I feel
like comedians finally get their own show and they donít even do it
their way. It doesnít represent them. But this was his essence.
We taped four shows, two a day, in New Jersey. And two sets of four
comics each day.
J: Is your material that will be on there a little different, because in
clips Iíve seen, it doesnít seem like youíre like the rest of the
comedians who are on there.
WC: Interesting that you say that. Of course, any clips that are on
[other TV shows] will have to be kind of clean. I definitely think that
I probably have the cleanest set of all those guys. Itís not because Iím
a woman, because I have such dirty stuff. But funny is funny and I donít
want to compete to try to be the dirtiest. As a woman, I didnít want it
to seem like, ĎAll the dirty guys are doing dirty stuff, and Iím gonna
come out and try to do dirty stuff too!í Iím still pretty dirty but I
opted for Ö I will do what I think is funny, and a lot of it is very,
very edgy. My first couple jokes werenít even dirty because I had to get
my own voice in there. If I came out and just did a rape joke off the
bat, their tolerance for dirty is going to be so high at that point,
because theyíve seen Norton, theyíve seen Patrice OíNeal, Artie Lange Ė
so why? I did some cleaner stuff and then got into the dirty stuff.
Sometimes as a woman you have to earn it. This is a very real thing.
Sarah Silverman is a dirty female comic, and sometimes if I start too
dirty people will say Iím trying to be like Sarah Silverman, so I try to
just do my thing instead. I definitely have been trying to be a little
cleaner. I donít say Ďfuckí or dirty words. I just do a lot of jokes
that are Ö
J: Itís more the content than the language.
WC: Itís just a lot of jokes are about sex. I had a lot of rape jokes
and didnít do them [on Nortonís show]. They always do really well but I
just wanted to do my favorite jokes.
J: How long is your spot or all the spots on Nortonís show?
WC: Itís four shows, three comics get about 5 minutes, even though we
taped about 8. Then the headliner gets 10. In the episode Iím in. Ö
Actually there were four in each episode, but some people got cut out.
[Now itís three]. We each got Ö the people before the headliner. My set
is cut to about 5 minutes. Itís such a cool show. I canít believe no one
has done this yet, but it makes sense, because Jim Norton is the only
person who could do it.
J: What other things do you have coming out, including
WC: I co-host The Tony Rock Project which starts airing on October 8 on
MyNetworkTV. Itís sketches and live studio audience stuff. Itís me and
Tony Rock and John Heffron. That comes out soon [October 8]. I co-host
it with Tony and Iím in all the sketches. That will be pretty fun. Then
Iíll be on the road quite a bit.