by Ryan Meehan
Comedian John Caparulo is perhaps best known as the under-dressed everyman on the E! hit show, Chelsea Lately. Cap, as he’s known by his friends and fans, has also made multiple appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Comedy Central Presents, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Next Generation of Blue Collar, and as a standout performer in Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show. His first 1-hour special, Meet Cap, was released in 2009 and premiered on Comedy Central the same year. More recently, in addition to touring as a popular national headliner, Cap appeared as part of Ron White’s Salute To The Troops on CMT, a network on which he became well-known as the host of the surprisingly hilarious Mobile Home Disaster. Caparulo’s stand-up comedy has become a favorite for SiriusXM fans, which led to his former radio show The Mad Cap Hour, and currently, the Domestic Disputes podcast, which are both available on iTunes. His newest stand-up special, entitled “John Caparulo: Come Inside Me,” launched on Netflix September 5th 2013, with DVD and CD versions following shortly after. Cap has also begun an innovative adaptation to the current media trends with Caplets – monthly clips of fresh stand-up comedy that can be viewed for free on his website. I am honored to have John Caparulo as my guest today in 7 questions.
RM: Growing up in East Liverpool, Ohio what kinds of entertainment did you end up being attracted to first and why? At what age did you first come to be aware of stand-up comedy, and what was it about the art form that was so appealing to you?
JC: My family moved to North Canton shortly after I was born, and we lived there until 1984 when we returned to East Liverpool. Since Canton was in the Cleveland TV market, I became a Browns fan. I was short, scrawny, and wore glasses, but I told my parents I wanted to be a football player when I grew up. They responded to that by giving me a kicking tee for my birthday. I was never really sure if that gift was their way of saying “We love you and we don’t want you to get hurt” or “You suck, so we bought you a kicking tee for your birthday…” I was also a pretty big fan of The Incredible Hulk, until I got tired of seeing nonviolent Hulk-outs. I mean, you get angry enough to turn green and grow 6 inches taller in 2 seconds, but you can only muster the gumption to throw a garbage can?? I always thought he’d at least get pissed off once or twice about having to buy new clothes all the time, or the fact that he’s a doctor who can’t afford a car!!…Comedy also played a big role in our house. I remember my parents going out one night to screen Beverly Hills Cop to make sure it was ok for me to see at 9 years old. I was a huge Eddie Murphy fan from watching SNL, and I desperately wanted to see that movie. I’m not sure what exactly they would have considered inappropriate for me to see at that age, since Beverly Hills Cop was chock full of cuss words, violence, and nudity. I guess there were no animals injured or anything, so yeah, bring your 9-year-old!!…Even though I had heard my dad’s Richard Pryor albums as far back as age 4 and stand-up comedy was so widespread on TV back then that even the Today show had comics on before I went to school, it was a rental of Eddie Murphy: Delirious in the summer of ’87 that stopped me in my tracks. I think it was his “Ice Cream Man” bit that did it for me. It just looked like so much fun to have all those people laughing with him about the silliness of his childhood.
RM: When you began working as a doorman at The World Famous Comedy Store, had you already had the opportunity to do stand-up at that location? How would you best describe the energy surrounding that venue which inspired you to take your career to the next level?
JC: Yeah, I had been drawing numbers on Sundays for Potluck spots for about 4 months before I got hired to answer phones at The Store. Maybe 2 weeks into that job, I was asked to fill in as a doorman for somebody who didn’t show up on a Friday night. There’s definitely something about that place that makes average comics good and good comics great. As a doorman, it wasn’t something that I appreciated while it was happening. Nobody should like climbing a ladder in the rain to change a marquee and then being asked to follow Andrew Dice Clay at 1:45am. But it was like playing ball at The Rucker. Once you’ve played there, you feel like you can play anywhere.
RM: You do a podcast with your wife called “Domestic Disputes” where you answer questions sent in by listeners of the show…What is the most bizarre question that you guys have received in the time you’ve been doing that podcast; and what was the advice that you gave that particular individual?
JC: I think somebody asked once if I was ticklish. Fortunately, I believe it was a female. As soon as you meet another dude who comes at you like “Hey man, are you ticklish?…” you should definitely zip your fly and exit the Men’s Room as quickly as possible. But still, I have to wonder what the woman who asked that question was planning to do with my answer. I mean, do I have to start looking over my shoulder for a random tickle ambush from a complete stranger? I guess I do that anyway, but it’s a hard way to live. But when you think about it, is anyone out there really not ticklish?? Maybe Stephen Hawking, I suppose. But if I ever had the chance to meet one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists in human history, I doubt that the first words out of my mouth would be “goochie goo.”
RM: I notice that your Twitter feed doesn’t have a ton of funny anecdotes such as feeds of other comics…Do you avoid tweeting out jokes that you might be able to use in your act because you don’t want to waste material, or do you simply view that app as more of a means to self-promote?
JC: Yeah, the immediacy of that app could be treacherous when you’re writing comedy. Instead of saying, “Hmm, that might make a good bit for later tonight,” you say “Ooo, I can just tell everybody right now!!” I always saw social media as sort of a burden that I hadn’t signed up for in the first place. I mean, I didn’t become a comedian because I like to type! For a while there, my twitter motto was “If you laughed at something you read from my feed, then it was me. If you didn’t, it was my wife.” Now, it’s just my wife.
RM: Back in August, “Chelsea Lately” ended a great run of seven years during which you appeared on the program multiple times…What will you miss most about doing that show; and why do you think round table comedy shows have increased in popularity over the past decade?
JC: The thing I miss the most about Chelsea Lately is the challenge. I loved the pressure of having to write jokes about people I’d never heard of and having to be funny in the moment in front of a huge TV audience. Most late night shows don’t allow you that kind of spontaneity. (That’s right, I spelled spontaneity right.) I think the comedy roundtable is probably a physical manifestation of the chat room, minus the pedophiles of course. The internet has given way to a free exchange of ideas from a larger multitude of voices. Most of them are dumb or racist, but I think the underlying ideal could be a good thing.
RM: Out of all of the projects that you’ve had the pleasure of working on throughout your career, which one was the most fulfilling to you and why? As you approach your 40th birthday this year, do you feel like nowadays you are thinking more in terms of focusing on projects that will cement your legacy as an entertainer in addition to ones that pay well?
JC: Right now, I’d say “Caplets” has brought me the most satisfaction. We just shot our 18th installment, and it’s really cool to look back and see a body of work there. Plus I like the idea of it being fairly unique. I’ve never been interested in following the herd, so doing something original means a lot to me. And I’ve been trying to mix that cement for over a decade now, but I’m still just stirring up dust. I’m working on an animated project right now that I hope will turn out to be something really special. If it doesn’t, then fuck me. But when I really sit and think about it, nothing I’ve done had very good odds in the first place. So maybe I should be happy with the success I’ve already had. I’m not gonna be, but I’m just saying that maybe I should be.
RM: What is the one “LA” lifestyle tendency that you have developed since moving to Southern California that your friends back home here in the Midwest would have never expected you to eventually engage in? Conversely, what is one example of a traditionally Midwestern predisposition that you refuse to let go of just because you live in the SoCal area?
JC: Well, I don’t exactly meditate or do yoga or anything. I still drive a Mustang, eat fast food with my dogs, and laugh at my farts. So that’s a tough one. My wife has gotten me to surrender to a couple pedicures and deep tissue massages, but those aren’t regular occurrences. I guess I’ve become a more aggressive driver, which the Mustang facilitates. I still laugh when my parents say “Oh, there’s gonna be a lotta traffic on the turnpike this weekend.” They don’t know what real traffic is. Just because you can see other cars on the road doesn’t qualify as traffic. Traffic is being parked on a 6-lane freeway and thinking “Ya know, this ain’t all that bad for a Tuesday afternoon.”
RM: What’s up next for you in 2015 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
JC: I just became a father May 22nd, so I guess that’s gonna be different. Other than that, I’m hoping to make this cartoon happen. I kinda burned that one up a couple questions ago. Fuck.
Official Website: http://johncaparulo.com/
John on Facebook: http://facebook.com/johncaparulo
John on Twitter: https://twitter.com/johncaparulo
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