by Ryan Meehan
Joe DeVito has the power to start fires using his mind, and he also does standup comedy. Whether taking on relationships, his Italian-American family, or current events, Joe’s dead-on timing, unexpected twists and sheer flights of lunacy make him a favorite at clubs and colleges across the USA, and at the top venues in New York City. After spending a decade as a journalist and advertising writer, Joe gave into his coworker’s demands to try performing so he could find fame, while they finally got some work done. In 2006, he was invited to the prestigious Just for Laughs Festival in Canada, where the Montreal Gazette rated his performance “9.5 out of 10.” Joe’s TV appearances include The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on CBS, Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham, and a semi-finalist turn on season five of NBC’s Last Comic Standing. His savage wit has also made him an in-demand panelist on shows like Chelsea Lately, CNN’s Headline News, Animal Planet’s Wild 100, and a regular guest on FOX News Channel’s Red Eye. As a writer, Joe has contributed to Maxim Magazine, MTV, and the award-winning film Super Size Me. He was also cool enough to mention our website on national television, so as you can imagine we are delighted to have Joe Devito back as our guest today in 10 questions.
RM: First off, where are we at with your facial hair situation at the moment? Am I speaking with a guy who’s clean shaven, or are we bearded to the bone here?
JD: I’m currently fuzzed-faced, and will be until I shed the extra chin I acquired over the winter. It’s a tradeoff between neck fat and my elderly gray patch.
RM: Back on April 24th, you had the opportunity to host RedEye again…How do you think that viewers responded to you as a host this time as opposed to being a panelist; and what has ended up being the most unexpected difference between those two sets of responsibilities?
JD: Straight up: Hosting is HARD. I thought I did a good job keeping the show moving and making sure the guests all got their licks in, but it’ll take a while before I can do all that and be my usual charming self. I get hypnotized by the teleprompter, so at least that’s something I have in common with the President. Also when the producer says something into my earpiece I tend to scream in fear.
I do still torture myself by reading the bulletin board reviews of the shows and it looks like viewers preferred me as a guest. I’ll get it eventually – tough part is learning a new skill while it’s being televised.
RM: How would you best describe the current political climate here in the United States as we find ourselves about a year and a half away from the next presidential election? Which Republican hopeful do you see rising to the top of the many potential candidates in front of us at the moment?
JD: I think we’re already exhausted, so the next 18 months will be brutal. Whoever’s in the lead now might be an also-ran by then. Right now I’m hoping for Rand Paul because I think he would bring a genuine shake-up to our calcified government, but he’s a long shot. Maybe Rubio… I’m getting a headache already. Just anyone besides Hillary, for God’s sake.
RM: We had you on as a part of our “Best of 2013: Guests and Friends” piece that we did at the end of that year, and you listed Carcass’ “Surgical Steel” as your album of the year so we know you’re a metal fan…What are some other heavy metal albums you have heard since then that really stood out among others in what’s become a very crowded set of sub-genres?
JD: Because I’m an out-of-touch old fart, I don’t usually discover bands the first time around. I’m always blown away by Mastodon – each release takes them in a new direction. Currently, I’m listening to The Sword, Baroness and All Them Witches. Had to back off on the Scandinavian Black Metal because it was making me too aggro at the gym; hoping the Stoner stuff will mellow me out.
RM: Your debut album “First Date with Joe DeVito” was released back in February…What are some common topics of conversation that a woman might find herself discussing if she was on a first date with you? Are there any personality characteristics or tendencies that are deal-breakers for you when you’re in the process of getting to know a member of the opposite sex?
JD: I only have two deal-breakers: no smoking, no snoring. Everything else is negotiable as I enter my fourth decade of dating. I think first date conversations should cover relationship experience, scars and tattoos, STDs, pregnancy scares, arrest records, restraining orders, stretch marks, and prescription drug interactions. Then after dessert, I’ll let her talk.
RM: When you hear a recording of your performance or watch a video of yourself doing stand-up, what is the first thing you notice about your presentation; and why do you think that you gravitate towards that particular aspect of your execution?
JD: Old videos are hard to watch since my stage presence made Al Gore look like David Lee Roth. Now I’m not afraid to shake-it, shake-it onstage and give the people what they want.
RM: You have a very calming delivery compared to a lot of other comics in the New York City area…Is your delivery something that is a result of you simply being yourself and not getting into a character of any kind, or is it something that is calculated in order to create more of a laid back mood for the audience?
JD: Now that I’ve been at this for 14 years, my style has found me. Most of my stuff is misdirection and wordplay, which has taught me that I like fooling people. Not sure what that says about my personality, other than there are more profitable ways to be a liar.
RM: If you were a superhero and you had the power to change one thing about the way that the industry of stand-up comedy operates, what would you change and why?
JD: There’s plenty to complain about in the industry, but the truth is I make a living telling jokes. People work in coal mines, so who wants to hear me complain about having to pay a club full price for my hot wings? I remind myself of the time I was on the phone with my mother, going on about some rough shows and she said, “You know, no one MAKES you do this.” That reminds me I do this because it’s my passion, and explains why she’s not getting a birthday card this year.
RM: Is there any portion of the comedic writing process that you believe you have mastered; or at least whittled down to the point where it’s become more of a scientific system for you than an art?
JD: I try not to use the word “master” outside of my dom/slave relationships, but I’m getting better at cutting the fat out of jokes and paring them down to the essence. It all comes down to say the funny part at the end, then stop talking. Eliminate everything in between that doesn’t need to be there.
RM: When do you know that it’s time to eliminate a bit in your act that has been successful for some time? Do you have a certain set of criteria for evaluating jokes that could potentially be nearing the end of their life cycle?
JD: Are you implying I should stop doing my Lorena Bobbitt bit? I’m always rotating in new material, so I don’t feel bad when current event stuff gets the axe. Between Twitter, Facebook and FOX News shows, I have plenty of opportunities to speak my mind about current events. I don’t want to be the guy doing material ripped from 2002’s headlines. Besides, the more personal it is, the longer shelf life it has.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2015 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
JD: I’ve got a few things cooking aside from tons of gigs. Between Red Eye and Kennedy’s show, FOX is keeping my mug on screen a lot, which I def appreciate. I’ve also started teaching some comedy classes in NYC which is a lot of fun. Other than that, working on submitting sets for late night shows, writing material for the next release, getting my penicillin shots. You know, comic stuff.
Official Website: http://www.joedevito.com/
Joe on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JoeDeVitoComedy
Links to the comedy classes: https://laughingbuddhacomedy.com/comedy-school/class-offerings-2/
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