Interview by Jessica Agi
Greg Warren is a stand-up comic whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been on the rise for the last decade. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s currently part of the Friends of the Bob & Tom Radio Show Comedy Tour with Mike Birbiglia, Henry Phillips, Mike MacRae and Auggie Smith and is one of RooftopComedy.comÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s favorite talents. From his Cincinnati home, the St. Louis native made time between his shows to talk about his life, his career and his affinity for the Cheesecake Factory.
How long have you been doing comedy?
Seventy-four years (laughs). I had a lot of false starts, so itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hard to put a marker on it. Full time, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been doing it for about six years. I quit my job [ed. selling Jif and Pringles for Procter & Gamble] about six years ago but I was doing comedy pretty regularly. So, 12 years. I started doing it and didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to stop.
How would you describe your style?
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a blend of chocolate ice cream and pizzaÃ¢â‚¬â€ and toasted ravioli, the St. Louis delicacy, which is basically fried pasta. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d be a blend of Ben & JerryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Heath Bar ice cream and toasted ravioli. Actually, I do a lot of characters in my act, but itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s always in transition. I sort of tell stories, and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s pretty personal. The stories are about my life, and sometimes I exaggerate (laughs).
So far, what has been the lowest point of your career?
You couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t start with the highest point? Well, I threw a phone one time; itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s something IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not really proud of. Two people in the front row were talking on the phone so I asked to see the phone and I threw it. But there was a certain satisfaction to doing it. The guys wanted to kick my ass. All the comedians at the club were trying to back me up but they werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t the most combative type of comedians, like Dan MintzÃ¢â‚¬â€ heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a very funny comic, but heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not exactly the kind of guyÃ¢â‚¬â€ probably not in the top 10 guys you want on your side. But IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m forever indebted to him.
What was the highest point?
Comedians live about 20 high and low points every day in their career. I think the high point is always when you have a new joke that works. The first time you do a new joke and it works is every comedianÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s high point.
What was it like to become the white dude who went 8 episodes on BETÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Coming to the Stage?
That was an interesting experience. It was humbling and I was very honored. When I moved to LA several years ago, one of the first clubs where I could perform, most of the audience was black and Hispanic. So I got a little bit of a taste of how to perform in front of those crowds. In St. Louis, there were tryouts for the show and I stopped in just to see what it was like. I got on the show and thought maybe I could go a couple of episodes. Then I did well and it was actually pretty cool. I sort of ran out of material that was relatable to that crowd five or six episodes in. But those comics were some of the nicest people IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve ever been around.
If you could have dinner with any three people, what would you eat and who would you invite?
You donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t wanna be the guy who just says, Ã¢â‚¬ËœIÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d just like three hot chicks.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ But I think thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s everybodyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s answer: three hot chicks that were incredibly interesting and really found everything I said to be very funny. And theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d find me crazy attractive. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d probably have some sort of pork chops with some asparagus on the side and cheesecakeÃ¢â‚¬â€ IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d go to the Cheesecake Factory. I like chain restaurants.
If I have to come up with names, probably my brother Ã¢â‚¬â€œ he makes me laugh more than anybody Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and Eddie Murphy. He was the guy who sort of influenced me in my life. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d probably have to throw in a hot chick again, maybe Scarlett Johansson if she wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t currently dating Josh Hartnett or just decided that moment at dinner sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s gonna leave Josh Hartnett for me.
You play the clarinet. Besides that and comedy, do you have any other talents or skills?
I can still wrestle pretty well. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m a former wrestling coach, and if the kid is anywhere below 150 pounds and still in high school I could still pretty much take him. LetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s revise that: if heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 140 pounds and under the age of 17, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m pretty confident that I could still beat them.
What can a comedy fan expect from one of your shows?
I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t normally throw phones. I think theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be happy if they came. I tend to be sort of a strong PG-13 or a weak R. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not really that offensive, but IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not that vanilla. I try to talk a lot about people and the human condition.