Greg Fitzsimmons has appeared on shows like Conan, Letterman, and Kimmel, just to name a few. He’s also had numerous stints on Comedy Central but this Sunday marks his first ever one hour comedy special for the network. The special debuts at midnight Eastern Time. He recently checked in to talk about his life as a comedian.
Q – Your new special, “Greg Fitzsimmons: Life on Stage,” debuts on Comedy Central, Sunday, August 18th at midnight Eastern. This is your first ever hour long special. How have you been doing stand-up comedy this long without having a one hour special? Why now?
A - I have done two different half hour specials and dozens of late-night spots on Letterman, Conan, Kimmel etc. I put out a CD a long time ago that I don’t even sell anymore. I always felt like every time I had a bit ready to record I would find something else that would make it better or go in another direction. Recently though I felt like I had an hour that meant something and was about something but that came about organically. It is about fighting through life with anger and temptation and being lucky enough to come out the other side with a great family and a career doing what I love. But then it is really about the existential pitfalls of becoming complacent at middle age. The special does a lot of questioning.
Q – I mentioned that it debuts at midnight. Why midnight? Who did you piss off to get this coveted time slot?
A - That was my reaction! It was explained to me, however, that Comedy Central’s best timeslots are late when young people are watching TV. They gave me a good lead-in with a Daniel Tosh Special so I am just hoping for the best.
Q – You’ve been doing stand-up for over 20 years. Do you ever get tired of the traveling and promoting aspect of being a comedian?
A - As Dom Irerra says, “I do comedy for free. They pay me to travel.” Would love to be home more but have been making big strides in that direction over the last couple of years. The promoting is also a necessary evil. It doesn’t feel organic because I don’t know who I am talking to and I’m not good at replying to their replies. I do what my mood allows but I do mostly enjoy it.
(Photo credit: James Kronzer)
Q – What types of things do you like to do on the road to pass the time?
A - Sleep late, exercise, read, weed emails, binge watch TV shows on Netflix, and get shit off my desk so when I return home I can spend time with my family.
Q – You’ve been a writer for Ellen’s show and won Emmy Awards as a result. How different is it writing for someone like Ellen versus writing for yourself via a stand-up act?
A - Totally different. You are writing for someone who knows what they want. Your creativity is knowing how to not just create it but present it in a way that will get it in the script.
Q – You’ve been doing comedy long enough to see the transition go from “Tonight Show” to Comedy Central/cable to podcasts/Internet. There seems to be a whole lot of “comedians” on YouTube putting videos up to showcase material. Do you think it’s harder to be successful as a comedian today or back when you first started?
A - It depends on what you want. It used to be a bunch of young people who just wanted to get good enough to play in good rooms and hopefully pay the rent. Now it is a full on business and every comic has been brainwashed to think you must pinpoint what makes you funny and then promote it online through social media. It has definitely taken the fun out of it and I don’t see good new headliners who can really hammer out a 60 minute set in a legitimate stand-up room.
I think of my special as an hour that’s been done in any city, any time and functions very well no matter what. That represents success to me right now.
Q – That’s all I had. Is there anything you wanted to add?
A - The theatre in Tarrytown, NY is where I went to watch movies when I was a kid. It was built in 1885 and all my friends and family came out and it was amazing having them be a part of it.
Jason Tanamor is the Editor of Zoiks! Online. He also is the author of the novels, The Extraordinary Life of Shady Gray, Hello Lesbian! and Anonymous. Visit him at www.tanamor.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.