The biggest names in comedy visit the Danny Lobell Show each week. It was time we paid a visit to Danny Lobell.
Every Monday and Friday, something special happens in the world of Internet radio: The Danny Lobell Show airs on comicalradio.com. Lobell, along with his crew Chris Iacono, David Kasten and Myka Fox — who somewhat recently replaced Katy Olsen — interview and sometimes antagonize the biggest names in comedy (Pablo Francisco, Ralphie May, Janeane Garofalo, Robert Schimmel and the late George Carlin to name a few).
Lobell steers the dysfunctional ship while each of his psychologically bedraggled shipmates do their part to joyfully force the vessel off course. Kasten is an angry virgin; Iacono — many times the voice of reason — is exactly what you’d expect from a Brooklyn Italian, only smarter. And Fox is a professional contrarion. All but Kasten are stand-up comedians in New York City. Punchline Magazine recently chatted with Lobell about the state of comicalradio.com, who the best and worst comedian guests are and much more.
How do you feel the show has changed since Katy left? Also, how has the show changed since last we did an interview?
Well, losing Katy sucked. Katy is an exceptionally funny person and there is no one that can replace Katy. That said Myka is great and also exceptionally funny with a different style of humor and really is damn good on the show. So it changed things I guess a bit with Katy leaving but it was both good and bad. Also I used to go out with Katy and we where very much in love and so naturally there where a lot of emotions flying around in the studio after we ended. So it was better for me creatively when she left because I was free again to focus on the comedy. But Katy could really have her own show she’s so talented.
How else has the show changed?
Well we now have a senior news correspondent, Andrew Schulz. He’s a good comic and used to do an occasional segment called “The Woman Whisperer” that got pretty popular amongst the listeners so we shut it down. Now he does the news every show and he’s great at it. David Kasten gets crazier and crazier as the show goes on and Chris is Chris. Chris Iacono is one of the most fascinating characters; he really is like a cartoon. People think he’s playing a stereotype character on the show but he’s not. That’s really him. He lives in his Italian Grandma’s basement, he grew up in a pizza shop in Colorado and he comes in wearing his dead Grandfathers suits eating rice balls and cursing the pope; that’s no exaggeration!
Every week, you get amazing guests, the most famous stand-up comedians. Why aren’t you a household name yet?
Well, the way I have always tried to see it is like this: you are as far in this as your meant to be at the time. That’s not to say that my show doesn’t deserve to be on a huge station with millions of fans and big paychecks, it just isn’t time yet for whatever reason. It could be time at any minute; we’ve trained hard and are ready for success when it hits but so far we haven’t been given access to the vehicle we need to make that happen.
All we need is one smart exec at a big station to take a chance on us and we’re ready for it. That said if we don’t get that smart exec we’ll work around the system and find a way to do it without them. What I realized is that there really is nothing that holds you back in life but yourself. And I’m a bit of a fuck up at times and I am by nature a prankster and practical joker and sometimes I get caught up in that and it blows up in my face and I wind up burning a bridge. But that’s who I am and a lot of what makes me funny, so I can’t really give that up too much; I just have to be smarter about it. It’s not a race to fame and no one can really get in my way of developing as an artist so at least in that respect on the purest level I am in total control of career. I am certain that I will make a big mark in comedy when the time is right and I believe that’s coming sooner than people think.
Famous or not, who are your favorite guests of all time? Dan Naturman is always entertaining and is great because he doesn’t hold back or censor himself, Other guys like that are Pat Cooper, Marc Maron and Pablo Francisco is always fun and very energetic. Kevin Brennan, Paul Giamatti was awesome, Carlin of course, Patrice O’Neal, Colin Quinn the one time he came in. There are also guys like Bobby Haha who is a real tough Mafia-Esq guy who likes to talk about how he has hairless Asian boys blow him during the super bowl that guy is a good guest and this guy Gawy who does raps but he sounds like Elmer Fudd, there are many more but I’ll stop there for now.
Which three guests of all time did you like the least and why? Dan Dratch, a writer on Monk. I insulted him with a joke I made and he took it too seriously and couldn’t get past it. I basically said his sister Rachel Dratch is not the best looking gal in Hollywood but it’s ok because she can get away with it because of how funny she is. He was a good brother and stuck up for his sister. But then I feel like, ‘Ok move on and don’t get all grouchy; it’s a joke. Comedy radio is a hybrid between stand-up and Improv when it’s done right. You can’t let shit offend you. Also, Mark Curry. He just was not into being there, I appreciate the fact that he showed up but he just started reading the NY times mid interview. He seems like a nice guy but I was disappointed because it wasn’t fun hanging with Mr. Cooper.
Then there’s Richard Belzer. He just couldn’t give a shit about doing the interview. He just plugged his crap and got off. It annoyed the hell out of me and made me wish I didn’t even let him plug anything. But for the most part I never have any complaints about the guests and I sincerely appreciate it when they come on the show. There have also been Interviews where the guest was awesome but I sucked, like when Janeane Garofalo came on the show. That was my fault that it wasn’t a good interview. And when David Cross was there I wasn’t on my game.
How has your stand-up career been affected since Comical Radio and The Danny Lobell Show launched? I don’t know that it has. I’m still really underground. Some people dig my shit and know me from the radio show and come out to my stand-up gigs. I’m still playing basements in the Village every night for free and crappy restaurants in Times Square. Occasionally a big club will use me and pay me and I’ll do well and they’ll say, ‘Lobell, we gotta use you more often. But then they don’t. [The club]
Stand Up NY has been good to me lately. Hopefully soon the other clubs will start showing me some love too. I’m going out to Scotland this month for the Glasgow comedy festival and I have some fans out there – believe it or not – who are emailing me and buying tickets. That’s got to say something for me. Fuck it. I’ll become huge in Scotland if nothing else. I love Scotland!
There’s been buzz in the comedy community about Rise of the Radio Show. (See video above). What the hell is that? And what does it have to do with Comical Radio?
Rise of the radio show is a show I created with the help of these two really talented young directors Liam O’Neil and Jason Koburov and it is based loosely on the real life experiences of myself and my crew on the radio show. But then it also gets kind of out there. We are launching a site in April with eight episodes RiseOfTheRadioShow.com. The cast is great and includes Brian Haley who plays the station manager. Brian is an amazing guy to work with and a comedic legend. We have some amazing guest stars in it (JB Smoove, Emo Philips, Brian Posehn, Pat Cooper, Patrice O’Neal, Robert Kelly, God’s Pottery, Kyle Grooms.) I am more proud of this show than anything else I’ve created.
How many minutes or hours of prep time would you say goes into producing one show?
During the week I put in anywhere from four to eight hours behind the scenes, booking and dealing with lists for security to get people into the building, reading notes on the guests, dealing with publicists and updating the website. And then we put in two hours before each show going over news, what bits we are going to do and ideas we have for what we want to do with the guests when they arrive.
Aisha Tyler, Maria Bamford, Janeane Garofalo and Lynne Koplitz (all past guests on your show) all want to date you tomorrow night. You can only pick one. Who do you choose?
Aisha Tyler. I have a thing for Black women. I just find them so beautiful. And I have a thing for real intelligent women, so with Aisha you get both– and she’s funny and she’s really hot! Janeane doesn’t really get me and she’s too political I’d be lost in many of our conversations. Maria would leave me too quickly because her kind of crazy and my kind of crazy would clash. I think she needs someone less neurotic and more stable than me. Lynne wouldn’t work out because she doesn’t find me attractive.
What’s in store for the Danny Lobell Show in 2009? I hope to make the move to Sattellie this year but that will be up to them. If not, maybe we’ll pitch to KRock or something. It’s a damn good show and any station would be smart to pick it up.
There’s been talk of Sirius XM filing for bankruptcy. How would it affect you personally if satellite radio didn’t exist anymore?
It would suck whether or not they’re smart enough to pick up my show because satellite radio is a wonderful thing and great for the art form. There is so much more opportunity to be funny on satellite— not because of cursing but because the psychological removal of censorship opens the gates of creativity. If you don’t have to think before you talk then the real good shit is going to come out more often. It would be sad to see it go.
You started working on Patrice O’Neal’s new show. What exactly is your role on the show?
I’m a writer. I’m very honored to be working on this show because in my opinion Patrice is one of the greatest comedians alive. In the show, Patrice is basically a pundit doing the news. It’ll air on sohh.com and on patriceoneal.com within the next month.
I once heard Patrice O’Neal sometimes eats $30 worth of McDonald’s before a show. Can you confirm that story? I have no idea if that’s true but I’ll keep an eye open on the situation. McDonald’s, from what I understand, isn’t so cheap anymore. So $30 might just mean he eats a Happy Meal.
Danny Lobell photo by LaMott Jackson.