This summer’s Just For Laughs festival is stacked. There are so many shows and so many amazing comedians which of course means that there’s a lot to do. Ari Shaffir is part of the 2014 Just For Laughs festival featured in not one, not two, not three, but already FOUR shows, each with multiple nights (so it’ll be impossible to miss this guy). You’ll get to see him at The Nasty Show, his solo show in Off-JFL, a live recording of his podcast Skeptic Tank, and a series called This is Not Happening (which I very highly recommend). I had a chance to speak to Mr. Shaffir early in the month and I asked him about the upcoming shows.
Mike Carrozza (MC): How you doing, Ari?
Ari Shaffir (AS): I’m great, I finally got internet in my house after fucking 30 days of trying. I’m excited.
MC: I guess you’ll have a lot to catch up on.
MC: I was just listening to your album Revenge For The Holocaust ($4.99 on iTunes!) to prepare for the interview and I gotta say, I love that Money Shot bit and the Mormon joke. Oh, and of course the 13 Minute Shit Joke.
AS: Haha. Yeah, the Money Shot and the Mormon joke. Yeah, I’m trying to get [the 13 Minute Shit Joke] animated right now. But [animators] cost a lot, so I’m just like, “I’m not going to make any money off this. I’ll just put it up on YouTube.” So we’ll see.
MC: That’s from your 2012 album.
AS: Yeah and I released a new hour in the beginning of 2013 called Passive-Aggressive.
MC: And that’s a video special only, correct?
AS: Yeah, I still have to figure some stuff out, but I’ll put the audio up on iTunes.
MC: Great! My introduction to you was when I saw a bunch of videos of you as The Amazing Racist.
AS: Yeah, [one of the Amazing Racist sketches] has popped up in all sorts of ways. We did new ones with that ShamWOW guy [in the movie InAPPropriate Comedy]. He came to us and asked if we could do more, I said, “Yeah, we can do more, but we gotta do it the right way. You gotta really go for it. You have to let me take control of it.”
MC: Oh, so you were entirely behind the new sketches in the movie. That’s great. So you’re coming as part of The Nasty Show. Is it your first time?
AS: Third time! Yeah, it’s such a good show. It’s always packed. It’s great. I mean, the Nasty Show is a LOT of people and packed every show.
AS: Yeah, I just heard an interview just a minute ago, it’s going to be great. DiPaolo’s hilarious.
MC: Do you know how long of a set you’ll be doing at The Nasty Show?
AS: I don’t know probably around 12 or 15. It’s a fun show. You know all the comics get high the whole show. They just sit in the back and smoke reefer for fuckin six straight hours, haha. Then every once in a while, you gotta say like, “Excuse me guys, I gotta go do a set right now” then come back and start again.
MC: I just figured everybody is high the entire festival.
AS: Yeah, pretty much.
MC: I mean, I think the last time we met was two years ago at the Just For Laughs party and you had just wrapped your run of shows, I think it was the mushroom storytelling show.
AS: Well, we only did that once. The other shows were just about drug stories, but the mushroom night was a one time thing because it was like the last day of the international mushroom festival [Shroomfest]. Yeah, a bunch of comics were on mushrooms doing that and a bunch of audience members were on mushrooms. It was pretty sweet. That crowd was pretty shroomed out.
MC: Anything weird happen at the show?
AS: Not really. Dan Soder, a funny comedian, he did the show and he was just distracted by this light off to the side. He just kept looking at it, like, “What the fuck’s that light all about?” That’s the only thing I really remember.
MC: Let’s talk about the other shows you’ve got in the festival. You’ve got a live episode of Skeptic Tank in the fest.
AS: Oh, yeah, forgot about that.
MC: What can you tell me about that then?
AS: Well, I haven’t really tried a live one, yet. I like doing these Skeptic Tank podcasts like alone.
MC: Yeah, one-on-one with the guest.
AS: Yeah, so I can get deep with them. I like to let people get dark. What I find with the live podcasts is that they’re a lot goofier. Not that that’s bad. It just works better for other kinds of podcasts. This one is, you know, darker. They kept trying and trying. They’re telling me, “You know, Maron does his and Pete Holmes” so we’ll see how it goes. I think we’re just going to tackle one subject and have four or five comics on. I think I’m gonna do stuff about losing virginity. Have a bunch of comics on talking about losing their virginity, I don’t know, could be cool.
MC: That should be fun. How much time do you think you’ll get?
AS: I don’t know but it should be more than an hour.
MC: I think You Made it Weird with Pete Holmes for the last two years had like an hour and a half.
AS: Yeah, but I usually go about two hours. I just don’t want them to come in and be like, “We gotta go, there’s another podcast supposed to happen” and I say, “Yeah, but I’m not done yet!” Hopefully I have nothing to worry about.
MC: Yeah, but hey, I guess you’ll take down your podcast equipment and get more episodes in through the festival.
AS: Yeah, I take that stuff with me every year anyway because there are so many comics that it’s like “come up to my room” and we record.
MC: Finally, I’d like to talk about my favourite of work: This is Not Happening. Could you tell me about that show? It’s probably my favourite new thing to pop up on YouTube. It’s so funny and you’ve had amazing guests. How did this all come about.
AS: Me and my friend Eric Abrams were just talking and sharing stories about doing mushrooms. It was so funny and we thought why not book a show about mushrooms. Because he booked a tiny room in the Improv, like fits 40 people in the room. So we did it, but we just made it about psychedelic drugs in general and we had these amazing comics that did stories about their mushroom trips, acid and peyote trips and they’re just so much fun to watch. It was initially going to be a one time thing, but we kept doing it. Next time it was like sex stories, then revenge stories, we kept changing it up. Then the booker of the Improv got mad at us because we were taking away some of his draw. He’s like, “You’ve got guys like Bill Burr in that tiny room with only 40 seats! What are you doing?” I was like, “I don’t know, trying to put on the best show I can.” Then they moved us to the big room.
MC: Well, that’s a good problem to have.
AS: Then Just For Laughs asked us to do it at the festival and they put us up at the Cafe Cleopatra venue there.
MC: That’s where the Shroom Fest show was then?
AS: Yeah. I think we did sex stories the first year, but the next year we did drug stories. And Comedy Central came to a few and they were like, “Hey, let’s film these for the internet.”
MC: I’m so glad for that.
AS: Yeah, I just love watching them. They’re great. Good comics telling fun stories.
MC: It’s a different experience to see a stand-up comedian telling a story that isn’t a bit or a joke. They get to just tell a story.
AS: Yeah, I mean the festival is full of specific guidelines to some shows because you have plenty of showcase sets and TV stuff. But my show I tell them like “Do between 5 and 15 minutes.” The comics can think “Okay, this isn’t a set, it’s just a story I tell at parties.” And it’s not just someone telling a story, it’s comedians telling a story, so naturally they’re just going to be funny telling that story. No rules, it’s just fun.
MC: What are the topics this time around?
AS: We’re doing four shows I think. We’re doing family, romance — which is probably just going to turn into sex. Danger, stories about dangerous stuff, and I forget the last one.
MC: So, you’ll also be doing a solo show as part of the Off-JFL series?
AS: Yeah, I’ve got a new hour. I think I’m recording in October. I get to do the hour a couple of times.
MC: I think that covers it. Is there anything you’d like me to include that we didn’t get to talk about?
AS: Uh, yeah. Could you just describe my dick, like the best you think it looks like?
MC: Yeah, I’ll make a note of that. (While writing on paper) “Describe Ari’s dick. Be creative.” Alright, thanks Ari. I’ll see you around the festival. Take care.
The Nasty Show runs from July 9th to July 13th at Club Soda and July 24th to July 26th at Metropolis. The show features Ari Shaffir, Nick DiPaolo, Kurt Metzger, Hailey Boyle, and Derek Seguin. All hosted by the Pitbull of Comedy, Bobby Slayton. $40/60.
This is Not Happening takes place on July 21-24 at Café Cléopatre at 11:45 p.m. $20.
Skeptic Tank takes place July 24 at the Ovation Room of the Hyatt Regency at 3:15 p.m. $20.