Sam Tripoli: Dangerous Comedy

By | May 28, 2007 at 7:53 am | No comments | Features

Sam Tripoli
Wild World of Spike star Sam Tripoli is a comedian who’s not afraid to take risks— literally.

When he’s not cracking jokes as a headlining comic, he’s more than happy to drive through brick walls.

By Noah Gardenswartz

Stand-up comedian Sam Tripoli is living the dream. As if it weren’t enough to make a living getting drunk and telling jokes, he even gets to co-host his own TV show, Wild World of Spike, on SpikeTV. Fresh off the release of his newest comedy album Crimefighter, Punchline Magazine caught up with Tripoli to discuss his life, his career and why he’s a hooker magnet.

How long have you been doing comedy?
For 12 years now. I went to college at UNLV and was part of an improv troupe that used to perform at casinos around town. That eventually opened doors for me to host an open-mic room, but at first nobody would come. It got so bad that I had to start hiring a live band to come play just so they could be the crowd afterwards.

Vegas isn’t a bad place to start your career though. Did constantly being in that type of atmosphere ultimately make you a better performer?
Oh, no doubt. But keep in mind, this was back in the time when Vegas was still trying to appeal to families as a vacation spot. It was like Disneyland with hookers.
Sam TripoliSo how long did you stay in Vegas, and why did you decide to eventually move to LA?
I was performing in Vegas for five years and after a while I just wanted something new. Don’t get me wrong though, I love Vegas. Those are my type of people. But if you’re going to make it in stand-up, especially if you’re trying to get into other things like television or movies, then Hollywood is just a better place to be.

Was the transition difficult for you, moving from Vegas to Hollywood?
Actually it wasn’t that bad because I moved into a really shitty apartment in a crazy area, so it felt familiar. There were actually four transvestite hookers that lived right down the street.

You seem to go where the hookers are.
I know, bro… or maybe they go where I go. I’m like the Hooker Whisperer or something.

So you moved to LA, started working the circuit and got to know some people. But thousands of aspiring comics do that, so what separated you from the rest, and in the end, how did you get to pitch Wild World of Spike?
That’s a really weird story. I actually didn’t pitch the show at all. I guess the producers at SpikeTV already had this idea for a show and wanted one of the hosts to be a comedian. So they were at the Laugh Factory one night looking for talent when my buddy Steve Byrne was performing. After his set they asked him to audition for the show and they told him that if there was another comedian he worked really well with he could bring them too.

So he brought me, and I got in there and didn’t know what the fuck to do. I started smacking Steve and dry humping the wall and shit, and all the dudes in the room were just looking at me like I was a complete retard. On the way home I felt so bad and I was apologizing to Steve for ruining the audition. But oddly enough, a few weeks later they called and offered me the job.

So you host the show, but you’re basically a stunt man too, because you and the other hosts have to find these crazy sports from obscure parts of the world and then attempt them, right?
Yea, and it’s funny because my co-hosts are Jason Ellis, who’s a legendary skateboarder, and Kit Cope, a martial-arts champion. You have an X-Gamer, and an ultimate fighter, and me. It’s like two superheroes and a Special Olympian.

What’s the worst stunt you’ve had to do on the show?
One time we had to make a sandwich while getting shot by paintball guns without a shirt on. I got shot 29 times. Another show I drove a bike through a brick wall. That obviously hurt real bad.

Is the pain worth it? Has the show helped your comedy career?
Yea man, the show has helped a lot. Now I’m headlining all over the place and doing all of the things I couldn’t do before. I’ve been working for 12 years but I’m actually glad it took me this long to get my shot because now I know from experience what to do with all of these great opportunities, versus if I got my chance too early.

When the show’s not in season how often do you travel and perform?
I get on the road about once a month, but I really like to gig in LA.

What are some of your favorite clubs to work?
I like the Comedy Store in LA and the Improv in Hollywood. I also really like the Punchline up in San Francisco because it’s such a smart crowd and it’s fun to do political jokes up there. Outside of California my favorite club is probably Riddles in Chicago because it’s just a crazy blue-collar crowd— my type of people.

I thought Vegas had your type of people.
I have all kinds of types of people. That’s why I’m so excited to be on the Vivid comedy tour starting in July. Porn people are definitely my type of people— me and porn people are like George Lopez and Mexicans.

Is there any crowd you can’t perform in front of?
Not really. Younger crowds are difficult because there’s a lot of my act that I can’t do, but they LOVE fart jokes.

Well clearly your career is going well, between being a headliner and having a TV show. So what’s next?
Man, I just want to bring the party back to stand-up comedy like Sam Kinison used to do— just fucking party and have fun.

Party on, Tripoli… party on.

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Noah Gardenswartz

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