Standing up

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The Spectrum

From somewhere behind the scenes of The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, Rory Albanese is juggling his role of executive producer and writer, churning out jokes but never standing in the limelight.
Things have started to change for the four-time Emmy winner. Albanese recently landed a half-hour special with Comedy Central Presents, due to air Friday at 11 p.m.
Coming out from behind the curtain, Albanese is taking on the world of stand up once more. With past tours such as "Red, White and Screwed" in 2006, Bonnaroo in 2009 and UB last year, Albanese isn't a stranger to this role.
"I get to write and tell jokes – it's pretty awesome. I cant even believe still that that's a job … I always wanted to do this," Albanese said. "I don't know what I'd do if this wasn't an option … sometimes I'm on my way to work and I see a guy with a jackhammer wrecking the concrete on the street and I'm like, ‘That's pretty cool. He gets to destroy things all day,' but I don't know, I didn't really have a backup plan."
Instead of taking on physical destruction, Albanese retaliates with words. Anyone who feels that Americans are unrefined and undeserving, Albanese will give you a different idea.
From defending our country in drunken arguments at a London McDonald's to enforcing regional stereotypes, the comedian pays homage to his home country – outsourced Indian phone operators be forewarned.
Growing up on Long Island – a place so many make the butt of jokes – Albanese had to develop a defense mechanism. It surfaced in his natural comedic nature.
"It was just this impulse where you're in a room full of people and it's quiet, like in school … and the teacher says something and there's that moment where you know if you say something in that moment everyone is going to laugh and you know the consequences … but you would rather get everyone to laugh and suffer the consequences," Albanese said.
With impulses like that, it was no surprise that Albanese grew up to write for Jon Stewart, one of the funniest men in America. Yet he reminds us that even The Daily Show isn't just all fun and games: it poses its own problems. They may not look at themselves as a news source, but many college kids do.
"It's really about figuring out what are we trying to say and what's the point of saying it because it's not just about playing a sound bite and making a silly face … It's a pretty short amount of news if you break down the amount of time that we're on the show that we're devoting to a headline or a story; you're not necessarily getting the full scope of what's going on in the world," Albanese said. "I always tell people to use it as a launching point to do your own research. I understand the impulse. When I was in college, I got most of my news from Dave Letterman's monologue."
However, when Albanese is doing standup, he is on his own.
"Standup is bombing. You go out and you tell a joke and people don't like it so you go, ‘Ok, well I'll try another,' and sometimes you know it's a bad joke and sometimes it's a good joke and you told it poorly and sometimes … the crowd doesn't like what you're saying but its usually worth trying a couple of times … you're alone out there and you're coming up with something you think is funny and you don't get to run it past a master comedian like Jon Stewart," Albanese said.
Despite the uncertainty that comes with standup, it's a refreshing change and a chance to work on new material.
"The special has inspired me/required me to put a little more attention on my jokes and writing some new material because I don't want to go out next year … I want to be able to do another one in the future so I want to be able to have another 30 minutes of stuff that hasn't been taped," Albanese said.
Those extra 30 minutes of jokes are going to come in handy. In addition to Comedy Central Presents, Albanese is currently working on a script deal for Paramount with John Oliver as well as heading out on tour this summer and fall. Catch him before he heads back behind the camera again.

E-mail: arts@ubspectrum.com