Joe DeRosa’s new one hour Comedy Central special You Let Me Down premieres tonight at midnight. Filmed at the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever, the special showcases DeRosa’s gripes with achievers, Tinder, golf, and the state of Arizona, just to mention a few. But beyond his signature opinionated complaints, DeRosa opens up about his own anxiety, explores the commonality of serial killers, and meticulously breaks down some hot-button gender issues. I talked to Joe about how Guy Fieri helps him relax, how comedy is like golf, and what we all can learn from Demolition Man.
What’s up, Joe?
I’m watching Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.
Is that how you unwind?
The show makes me incredibly happy. It’s the best thing to put on if you don’t want to be stressed and just want to be in a good mood. Watching Guy Fieri go around eating food and getting along with everybody is a nice time.
Do you think people shit on him too much?
Yeah. I think the same thing happened with Rachael Ray that happened to him. There was a period where everybody loved him a lot and then there was a mandatory “this person needs to be made fun of now.” But he’s going strong, man. He’s doing a bunch of shows on the Food Network. Good for him.
I don’t think he’s phased by the hate. I think he’s like, “I’m doing fine. Y’all can fuck off.”
I’m truly enamored by how he can be so personable with so many different types of people. So many different personality types are running these restaurants and he goes in and charms all of them. That’s really hard to do. From a comedian’s standpoint charm takes effort and energy. It’s not always easy, especially on a one-to-one individual basis like he does. That’s truly a unique talent that I don’t have. I’d be in the kitchen complaining the whole time. The guy puts me in a good mood. I like him.
Are you ever taking notes while you’re watching the show to remind yourself of restaurants to check out when you’re on the road?
This is how lazy I am: I found a website with all the LA restaurants that have been on the show. I still haven’t gone to any of those.
You told me that you’ve been working the road for the last 13 years. You’ve been doing comedy for about 15 years, right?
I think I started in December of 2001.
So you took to the road pretty quick then.
Yeah I kind of lucked out in the beginning. Things moved pretty quickly for me the first few years. It really presented a great, great illusion of how the rest of this business would be. The first few years were very easy. They all seemed to move very linearly. I moved to the road pretty quickly. Granted, it was as an opener, but it happened fast. Then almost immediately the industry was like, “You know it doesn’t move this quickly right? Just stay in this one position for a while.” For a long time all I did was go on the road. I’m happy to be in a place that’s much more diverse now, but there was a long stretch where that was it. It was kind of like playing golf. You’re sort of playing against yourself because that’s all that you can do. It was all I could make money doing, so the focus became doing it as much as possible and trying to get better at comedy through it.
It’s interesting that you use golf as an analogy considering that in your special you proclaim that golf is not a real sport.
Yeah, I hate the game. I despise it and I enjoy making fun of it, but it is a good analogy. I always look at comedy as you against you. It’s how much you challenge yourself and allow yourself to be a good player. If you don’t have a good show, that’s usually your fault more than the fault of the elements. The audiences and the venues are like different golf courses.
You recorded your special in October, but there was something that came up that is very timely with what’s going on right now. You said that you miss the old days when you could just punch somebody in the face. What are your feelings on the whole Richard Spencer thing?
Do I think he deserved to get punched in the face? It’s tricky. This discussion of expressing ourselves versus not expressing ourselves versus how to react to people expressing themselves, etc. is always very complicated. I think people think that there needs to be one right way to do things and that’s the only way that it can be done. We try to create this rule book where we’re like, “This is how we should all be living all of the time and that’s how it will work best, period.” Ideally there is some value to that sentiment. I’m not an advocate of violence, but I also don’t get my underwear in a bunch when some guy says something stupid and somebody punches him in the face for it. I don’t choose to live my life that way. I don’t walk around hitting people I don’t agree with. But I also don’t give two shits when somebody says something and gets punched for it. Shit happens. We all get lumps. Nobody’s going to agree with us all of the time. If I got punched in the face for something, sure it would shake me up, but I wouldn’t go call the cops over it. I wouldn’t cry about it. I’ll be like, “Yeah, I messed up a little bit and got hit in the face.”
I’m pretty sure Richard Spencer went around the corner and cried after he got hit.
Yeah, that’s pathetic. Maybe that punch really hurt.
It looked like it. The dude jumped into it.
It was a great hit. We were talking about that video at a bar the other night. We were laughing our balls off. There’s nothing funnier to me than watching a dude get socked in the face. Those WorldStar videos are some of the funniest videos I’ve ever seen. Just from a pure base level comedy standpoint it makes you look as stupid as you’re ever going to look. Your body reacts in a goofy way. People go up on their tiptoes. Sometimes their hat falls off. That’s funny in the same way that The Three Stooges are funny to me. I don’t think we should all go around punching each other in the face, but if you watch the movie Demolition Man…Demolition Man is about this futuristic society – it’s not a good movie, by the way – where violence and conflict have essentially been outlawed for years and years. Somehow Wesley Snipes, who was a criminal from the 90s, gets thawed out of his cryogenic freezing and just goes haywire. He’s doing whatever he wants, killing people, hurting people, stealing, and nobody knows how to react to it. Nobody knows how to deal with it because they don’t understand what violence is anymore. Then they have to thaw out Stallone so he can come in and save the day.
But it’s interesting to watch a movie like that because there’s some truth to that idea. Sure, we all think Utopia is a good thing, but it’s not a realistic thing. You’re never going to convince everybody to play ball with Utopia. It’s never going to happen. We could get all these people to all do the right thing, but we can’t do it at the expense of not knowing what to do when the wrong person comes in and starts creating a problem. You can’t live like that. It’s like skipping through a minefield and saying, “Mines shouldn’t exist, so I’ll be fine.” No, no you won’t be fine. You need to know that there are mines in this field. You can’t pretend that it’s not a thing and you need to know how to handle it.