Killing It with Adam Newman

Adam Newman’s newest album, Killed, was just released on Rooftop Records. He’s come a long way since the last record nearly five years ago, not only in comedy but also to distinguish himself from a certain viral video where he finds cocaine in a heckler’s coat.

Having performed on the Late Show with David Letterman, released an album, Not for Horses in 2011 and with a Comedy Central Half Hour under his belt, he was itching to release the latest album. I spoke to Adam about the latest album and the downfalls of live tweeting. We agreed that material can sometimes fall in your lap, if people buy albums anymore but more importantly – we didn’t forget to discuss the regionalism of certain fecal jokes.

How did you decide to record the new album in Minneapolis?

The last year or two I have been on the road a lot doing most comedy clubs around the country. My two most fun, hottest rooms in the country that I have performed in were Comedy on State in Madison, Wisconsin and Acme in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I basically just figured if I could book one of those two clubs in the next few months that is where I’d record, and Acme came up. It is one of the hottest clubs in the country and the most fun.

I think it was a good choice, the audience was laughing so hard. 

I know! The year before, I was there and taped my Comedy Central Half Hour submission. I have to give the audience half the credit for me getting it because they are laughing so hard it almost feels like they are laughing at me. I know these jokes, I’ve thought these jokes were funny, which is why I’m telling them but come on they aren’t that funny. I mean, people were falling out of their chairs. I think at one of the shows someone laughed so hard they threw up in the back of the room –definitely good laughs in Minneapolis.

They’ve probably followed you when you come back to town – are you building up a fan base there?

Oh yeah that’s been a fun thing, going back to some of these places compared to the first time. Not only is it nice to get booked at a club for the second time, but repeat customers that come up you after the show and say, “We were here last year, we brought some friends!” That’s amazing. I love that and hope it keeps up. It also puts some pressure on me to come back with new material the next time.

How did you decide it was time for a new album? Have you been working on new material since the last one or collecting bits from your whole time in comedy?

I was so new after the last album. I am no way even close to the level of Louis CK, Burr, Regan and Carlin who do a new hour every year. So after my first album I just kept doing standup and staying on the road. About four and a half years later I looked at my set and realized it was a nice hour that flowed together really well and was completely new material since the last album just from doing it constantly for a few years. I looked at my set and thought it was ready to go as soon as the right club is booked it would be the right time to record it.

Did you feel pressure doing a “sophomore” album?

No pressure. I actually felt the opposite of pressure. I was really antsy to put out a second one, because I knew whatever I put out would be a lot better than the first one. The first one got good reviews, people are laughing at the jokes, and it was fine. It was me five years into comedy, and it was one of my first ever headlining gigs, which is ridiculous. I was antsy to do it so I did it. In this one I’m just a better comedian than I was four years ago. I hope you’re always better than you were four years ago, I hope I’ll always continue to do better than I was four years ago. The material is a lot better. I think I’m more comfortable. I’ve been getting up on stage a lot more. I was really anxious to get this one out. I’m really excited to have it out and if anyone likes me, or sees me online then downloads the album I’d be so much happier if people found this one than the one I put out almost five years ago.

It’s an interesting collection of different material. I know you talk a lot about poop, especially the rhyming joke about running the bases. I have friends abroad and I realized it is different in every country because they’ve sang it too. 

It happens in different cities when I’ll ask, “What happens when you run to third?” Some people would yell, “Big turd!” and some people would yell, “Juicy turd.” I realized everyone knows that song everywhere you go, but there are regional variations. It’s been a little different and fun to do that joke every night because you find all the little differences.

It’s such a regional thing, I couldn’t believe it. 

That’s good to know that they have it abroad though. If I get some international gigs, it would be fun to see what they think. What’s the rhyme for that word?

They say, “…if I’m going to the chippy” which is a British term for a takeaway restaurant that sells fried everything… and you feel something drippy! [laughs]

[laughs] That’s awesome, I love that. I’ve got to go over there. That bit is a six minute diarrhea joke now. If I can get overseas, I could stretch the whole thing to nine or twelve.

Are you looking to go international, is that something you’re planning for?

I would love to, the only thing I’ve done that I can call international is that I’ve been up to Canada a few times. I’ve been to Montreal two or three times to do comedy. Australia has the Melbourne comedy festival; I would love to do that too. I think the guy that runs Acme comedy club does expat shows in Hong Kong. Any opportunity that comes up to do international comedy in the future, I will jump so fast at it. The fact I can do comedy even around the United States and that it has taken me to all these places is so awesome.

I wanted to ask you about your Twitter, as I saw you live tweeting the Canadian show Schitt’s Creek yesterday.

Yeah, lost a lot of followers! I don’t have a million Twitter followers, but every now and again some company will ask you to live tweet something, or put a little sponsored tweet here and there. I’m a struggling up and coming comedian and a few bucks here and there to tweet about something is nice, but you just watch the followers drop off if you’re live tweeting a show they’re not watching. It’s not like they’re asking you to live tweet The Bachelor or something that is not really for me. [Schitt’s Creek] is a funny comedy show with Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara and Chris Elliott. It’s a funny show so I’m not embarrassed about it.

And it is right for you, considering your devotion to Schitt humor. 

That’s thing if you’re asked by a sponsor and you don’t watch the show or whatever. But this one, the whole show is a shit joke and I’m like, “I’ve got this!” I’m okay doing it because it’s a funny show, and they aren’t doing anything gross as far as advertising or shoving it down people’s throats. They’re just like, “Hey, write a few funny, filthy tweets and we’ll throw you a few bucks,” and I don’t mind doing that for a good show like Schitt’s Creek on the Pop Network Wednesdays at 10pm. I don’t know if they’ll throw me any money for that though.

I’m not sure if that counts. I watched your Letterman set and listened to the album, it was interesting to see the parallels between the two sets…

That’s why it is so nice to be able to put out an album where the label just wants your album the way you want it, just jokes. When you do Letterman you have to make it clean enough for Letterman, you can’t say certain words and talk about certain things. You have to take your jokes and make a TV version of your jokes which is frustrating slash totally understandable and I don’t have any problems with it. But when you put out the album it is so great to say, “Here is the real version of the joke that I want people to hear.” So it is all the dirty, fun, loose versions of my jokes. My favorite versions of the jokes are now out there, which is nice.

I loved the bit on the album about a kid having pictures of Jesus on his wall. I had a friend who in Elementary School and High School had prayers, pictures of Jesus and of the crucifixion all in her locker. When you’re a kid you don’t really understand that. 

People are weird about it, be whatever religion you want but don’t be pushy. But it’s great when things like that happen because you basically have a joke fall in your lap. Half the album is that. For some reason in my comedy, half my material is just jokes that have fallen in my lap; whether it is someone sitting next to me on a plane asking me to pray with them or a phone call from my Dad. Basically all I have to do is report what happens and comment on it a little bit. It makes the creative process a little bit easier.

Comedy is a good outlet to have instead of just having some ridiculous anecdotes or party stories. 

Yeah, but that’s how a lot of the jokes start. Something happens to you, and you tell your friends about it, they laugh at it and then you try it on stage. Then if it gets a couple of laughs you add to it or comment on it. Then it turns into a nice little bit.

Then it goes on the album.

Then it goes on the album! And no one buys it on iTunes. Do people buy albums anymore? I don’t even know. I hope people buy it or listen to it for free on Spotify or something. I just want people to listen to it.

What are your upcoming plans? Are you touring more with the album?

This week I am doing a short little run opening for Bo Burnham on his tour in Seattle, Portland and San Francisco then back to L.A. I just want to get back on the road as much as possible and start working on the next hour, cause I did a half hour special last year so now the idea is to get the first hour special out in the next year or two, whenever that’s ready to go. The album is on iTunes, Amazon and Rooftop Records. Stand Up! Records is going to release it on vinyl in a few months which is cool. I’m working on writing a pilot with my buddy. I am in L.A. now crashing on a friend’s couch for pilot season just trying to keep as busy as possible while hitting the road.

Photo by Mindy Tucker.

Killing It with Adam Newman