Q&A with comedian Tom Segura
Stand-up comedian and actor talks about upcoming stop at the Center for the Arts
Tom Segura’s comedy travels a myriad of avenues. From podcasts to multiple stand-up specials on Netflix, the Ohio-born comedian spreads jokes in any way he can.
His upcoming tour, “No Teeth No Entry,” will continue to cast his line out in the comic sea, hitting the Center for the Arts (CFA) on Nov. 11.
Beforehand, the comedian talked with The Spectrum about his comedy, the tour’s opener Josh Potter and his future performances.
Q: The term “political correctness” gets thrown around often, do you ever see yourself censoring things at times or do you go at things more free-form when going on-stage?
A: I don’t really consider “well, do I think this might upset somebody.” In general, comedians like to toe the line. You know what a sensitive subject is, so the fun thing to do is to dance close to the line of going over it. The fun thing about being a comic is bringing up a sensitive topic in a funny and thoughtful way, to have people consider laughing at it. But I don’t really censor myself; audiences will let you know whether or not it’s still funny or you’re over the line. You can’t pull yourself back before trying.
Q: A couple of your clips and jokes on YouTube have received hundreds of thousands, even millions of plays. Has there ever been a take or joke of yours that is your favorite on the road and inversely have there been any jokes that have become bothersome for you because of their popularity?
A: The way that I tour with material is once it’s out in a special or has viewership, I don’t do it live anymore. To me, the whole thing about jokes is that they have to have the element of surprise. I’ve had shows where people are yelling to hear a joke and I’m like “okay, I’ll do that joke.” And then, during the whole joke where you used to get laughs, people are nodding along and smiling because they know the punch line. At the end of it, they’ll give you an applause break of appreciation, but that’s not fun for me to perform a joke you know every twist and turn in. That’s the whole point of telling a joke, you don’t know what’s coming next. I shot a special last month; it’ll be out in a few months. Once that is out and I know people will have access to it, that material becomes not fun to do because I know people have most likely seen it if they’re coming to my shows. So my feeling is, if you want to hear that joke again, just pull up Netflix and watch it again.
Q: On the topic of your fans, what do you think they get from your material that other comedians may lack or may not provide the same punch in?
A: I think all comedians provide a particular thing to their fan base. Such as like-mindedness, [fans] like to go with people who [they] agree with. There’s also the break from everyday monotony, the dread of the news, the stress of work and people want to relax. I don’t know if I’m providing anything that another comic isn’t, maybe it’s I have a certain way about me that some people are into. I don’t know.
Q: I know you’re fluent in Spanish, are there any instances where you incorporate this into your comedy or narratives on stage?
A: There are a few, there’s one in the new hour that I just shot but I try not to be super forceful, somewhat organic with it. I’ve done it before in the past and in the new hour I shot, I talk about being raised in a Spanish-speaking household and some of the material gets into that but not too much of it, just a few minutes.
Q: On your podcast, “Your Mom’s House,” you work with your wife Christina Pazsitzky who is also a comedian on those segments. What kind of dynamics are there in your household consider you’re both humorists yourselves?
A: The dynamic is probably just like a lot of households. I don’t think it’s that different that we’re comics because we’re getting our son who is almost two, right now we’re having breakfast, it’s a regular household. Some people go “are you cracking jokes, all the time?” No, we would be insane people if we’re doing that all the time. So it’s a regular household, but we’re both familiar with the world of comedy since we both work in it. We have a little more empathy for the other person when we have to do things like make a call to do press, do spots in town. We do understand each other and sometimes if we go “oh that show was terrible,” you don’t have to explain it to me. If my parents ask me how a show went, I always say it was great. I don’t want to explain why it wasn’t great.
Q: I know in addition to your podcasts, you’re on stage and working on specials. Do you prefer the audio element of comedy to the in-person element or are you indifferent about how you deliver jokes?
A: It’s no different doing podcasts than performing live. I think the podcast is so fun––it’s really just free form conversation and you can really be silly in it. There’s no real expectations of jokes the way they are with live stand-up. You can get really loose which makes it really fun. I do like the audio version of the podcasts the most.
Q: You’ve performed at Helium, which is in Buffalo, but you’ve also done many shows around the nation. Do you, however, recall this performance or the Buffalo crowd and is there anything that sticks out to you about performing in Upstate or Western New York?
A: I’ve always found that people are super appreciative, which is nice and [Buffalo] is one of the places where people say thank you for coming. So, I’ve always had great shows and that club is a great club. I was in Albany a few months ago, so I’m really excited about this [upcoming] show. I’m bringing a Buffalo native who just moved to Los Angeles to open for me, Josh Potter. I like him so much I bring him everywhere on the road with me. He’s been basically my opener for this whole tour and he was on the radio in Buffalo for a while.
Q: For your “No Teeth No Entry” tour, what is unique about your upcoming stops that comedy fans can expect, specifically students at UB?
A: It’s just a comedy show. I’m just going to be slinging some jokes so hopefully that is enough to lure students in. I like doing the big crowds the most, the general public and college students together is usually the most fun show. There’s a mix of both audiences makes things the most fun so it should be alright.
Benjamin Blanchet is the senior arts editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.