Adam Carolla on no-attention-span stand up

Categories: Comedy

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Adam Carolla comes to Denver this weekend to perform some visual-aided stand-up. Carolla, who is most famous for his stints on Love Line and The Man Show, now runs a daily podcast and last year released a book, In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks. We talked to him before the shows about how he incorporates photos in his routine and taking a broad approach to self-promotion.

Westword: How are these shows set up?
Adam Carolla: There's a visual component to them. We bring along some video and some stills and family pictures. So it's a little more of kind of a one-man show, but it has a visual element to it. So instead of just standing there talking for ninety minutes, which is fine, but I'm too lazy to do that really, I just bring along these visual components. And you can see whatever it is I'm talking about behind me. Sometimes it's funny and sometime's it's just informative.

I don't know if I'll be doing it this time around, but one of the bits is called "Why I Hate L.A.," and you can talk all you want about the L.A. River, but it's funnier if you have a sign that has a picture of a crane or a herring and it says L.A. River and it looks all majestic, and then you show a picture of what the L.A. River actually looks like, which is just sort of a cement gutter filled with trash and shopping carts. It just kind of gets to the punch line a little faster.

And then there's a real-time version of it too. If I'm just riffing and talking about something or if I get off topic, my guy will be there on the computer blasting through Google and just pulling up the images of whatever it is I'm talking about. I don't even sometimes know what's going on on the screen behind me. I'm just talking about Larry King or fat chicks or whatever, and as I'm talking about it there's pictures flying up. Usually I'll notice because the audience will laugh and it will be when I'm inhaling or not saying something funny.

I don't know if George Carlin and Lenny Bruce would approve, but we're used to just getting information now. You sit at the computer, you sit at the television set, you don't watch it at the same tempo that you did in the past. You watch a movie from the '70s and it drags, it's so slow. It's just sitting there. And I guess I'm just trying to take that no attention span sort of thing and bring it to stand up. It's not just going to be me talking. It's going to be me talking with a bunch of junk going on behind me.

WW: You haven't released a CD recently, you obviously have the podcast and then the book came out last year. Is there a particular thing you're promoting on this tour?
AC: It all molds into itself for me. I have the book out and the audiobook out, which are quite a bit different than each other. But for me, the live touring stuff is good for the podcast, and the podcast is good for the live touring stuff and the book is good for the touring stuff -- it gets people more aware, more people out there. And then you do a show, and that helps with book sales. It's now kind of one thing. It's not really about just selling books or downloads on iTunes or how big a theater can you fill, it's all just one thing in a weird way. They feed off of each other. So I'm really out there selling myself. I am sort of my product. Then, if you like me, you come out to the show, you buy a ticket and maybe get a t-shirt and maybe a book. And, by the way, I'll sign anything you bring.

It's been sort of surprising, but a happy surprise, that we've been selling out all these theaters around the country without doing a lot of traditional advertising. I guess people are just computer savvy now. They're just figuring it out.

WW: How do you feel about the podcasting format as compared to radio and TV?
AC: I like it a lot, but it doesn't feel that different to me. I didn't feel like I was been constricted to any great extent when I did the radio, but it wasn't one of those things where it was like, "Oh finally, someone removed the restrictor plates and I get to really rev it up." It's communicating -- it just feels like communicating to me. And the radio felt like communicating minus a few dirty words.

Honestly, it doesn't feel that different to me. I do like the idea that I don't have a boss, and I don't have a program director and I don't have someone telling me to hurry up and roll calls and here's some guests that you don't really want -- talk to them anyway. It is absolute freedom, but then with that comes some responsibility, because now I have to sort of be my own program director.

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