by Ryan Meehan
Zac Amico is a comedian, actor, and filmmaker living with an abundance of cats in Brooklyn, NY. Originally from New Jersey, this punk rock raconteur is making moves in the worlds of trash cinema and filthy comedy. Zac recently appeared in Troma Entertainment’s Return To Nuke ‘Em High Volumes 1 and 2, fulfilling a lifelong dream of dying naked in a film directed by Lloyd Kaufman. After his first battle became a viral video, Zac is now a regular competitor in the NYC branch of Jeff Ross and Brian Moses’ Roastmasters, a live comedy competition of one on one insult battles hell at The Stand Comedy Club. You can also hear Zac every week on The Real Ass Podcast with his close, personal friend Luis J. Gomez. Whether it’s on the screen at your next favorite midnight movie, in your ears on a podcast you wouldn’t want your parents listening to, or on stage pushing the boundaries of good taste at your local comedy club, be on the lookout for this morally questionable, quick-witted performer and check him out as my guest today in this week’s installment of 10 questions.
RM: How did comedy make its way into your life during your childhood? Were you the type of guy who would watch a lot of HBO stand-up specials, or did you prefer things like sketch comedy and/or sitcoms?
ZA: One of my earliest memories is making my parents laugh by doing impressions of John Pinette and Kevin Meaney. “You go home now,” “Penis stuck in the nine,” etc. I would have to sneak comedy specials growing up because my mom might be the most easily offended person on Earth, I remember her once losing her shit because she thought Jeff Foxworthy was too dirty. Now I go on stage and yell at strangers about eating my dad’s cum, so that worked out great.
RM: If for some unspecified reason you had to work clean starting tomorrow, how much of your act would you have to scrap? What would likely be the explicit message you’d like to convey to whoever put you in that awful predicament in the first place?
ZA: If I had to work clean I’d have to scrap about 65% of my act, and change the wording of most of the other 35%. I quit a club once because they expected me to perform for a family with a six year old boy in the crowd.
RM: Out of all the regular weekly shows you have done over the past few years, which one has aided the most in your development as a comic and why? A lot of comics say that they grow more from awkward experiences in difficult environments than they do from having a killer set…Is that also the case for you, or do you learn more about yourself and your craft when you have the crowd rolling?
ZA: I frequently do a show my best friend Josh Potter runs on Tuesday’s at Bar None in the village, and it’s helped me in a lot of ways. A lot of the same fans and friends come every week, so I can’t keep relying on the same set all the time, plus it’s a rowdy bar so I have to work hard to get people’s attention if it’s a lousy night. Also, lots of college-age awful drunk girls go there and them hating me is a good consolation prize for when I bomb my dick off.
RM: What’s the most satisfying aspect of getting to do the Real Ass Podcast with Luis J. Gomez? How long have the two of you been close friends; and what’s the most “Real Ass” thing about the show itself?
ZA: The most satisfying part of doing the Real Ass Podcast is getting to completely unload all my weekly baggage and have my friends laugh at me for being a neurotic maniac. I’ve been friends with Luis for 6 years, I met him my first day hanging out at a comedy club (the dearly departed den of sin CB’s Comedy Club), where he took a sharpie and wrote on my arm. Luis has been the #1 supporter of my career and has been going to bat for me since way before I ever deserved it. The most “Real Ass” part of our show is definitely how we treat each other and how much we put being funny over being right. (by that I mean we’re fucking idiots)
RM: Your Roast Battle against Kerryn Feehan from back in October of last year now up to well over a million and a half views on YouTube…How did you go about preparing for a gig such as that one? Did you have any sort of contact with her before the face-off to discuss any topics that would be off-limits, or was it pretty much a no-holds barred agreement that you’d both just try to rip each other to shreds?
ZA: Kerryn and I didn’t actually really speak much before our Roast Battle. There’s a lot of sexual tension between us, mostly her towards me, and we didn’t wanna ruin our battle by meeting up and inevitably banging. Kerryn is so attracted to me that she made her current boyfriend get fat just so she can pretend he’s me while they fuck.
I’m of course kidding, Kerryn is really funny and has gotten great at battles and I’m both excited and terrified to battle her again, regardless of who wins the audience is going to have a blast.
RM: In a culture that seems to hardly be suffering from no shortage of television shows which encourage competition of the arts, why do you think that the concept of roast battles is something that took so long to come to the forefront of the comedy community? Why is someone like Luis the optimal ringmaster for that kind of circus?
ZA: I think in the current PC, SJW approved comedy culture, seeing people really be mean and relentless and unapologetic is refreshing and exciting. It took a long time to figure out the correct format for something like the Roast Battle to work, but my generation of comics grew up watching the roasts on Comedy Central and those kind of jokes are just programmed into us, which is why there’s so many great roast joke writers popping up out of nowhere. Guys like JP McDade, Eli Sairs, Scott Chaplain and tons of other comics in the tournament are beasts, and I feel lucky to even be on the same bracket as everyone else in Roastmaster’s.
RM: I see that you guys are now gambling on these roast battles…How are you doing so far? Is that a pretty easy thing to predict, or are the face-offs something that you never really know what’s going to happen until the insults start flying?
ZA: No way, I don’t want to skew people’s expectations in any way, and you never know how it’s going to go, especially since audiences can just decide they don’t like someone for an arbitrary reason, so even if their jokes are great they can do poorly. It’s like betting on Pro Wrestling, there’s always going to be a swerve.
RM: How did you come to work with Troma Entertainment? How would you best describe your character from the “Nuke ‘Em High” series; and in what ways does your personality mirror that of said individual other than the fact that you share the same name?
ZA: I interned at Troma for two years out of college and came back to the company when it was time to make Return to Nuke ‘Em High. I was and am a lifelong fan of Lloyd Kaufman’s work, so it was a dream come true to be behind and in front of his camera and learn from him every day on set. My character in the movies is definitely a cartoonish variation on who I was in high school, Zac B.C. (before coitus). I’m playing a hyper version of every comic and horror nerd I used to go to conventions with.
RM: I know you’re a big fan of cats…If you could have one wild animal and keep it as a domestic house pet, which one would you select and why? How good of a job do you think you’d do with regards to taking care of it and making sure it didn’t eat you or any of your friends?
ZA: I’d definitely like a pig, but I would do an awful job, since I and pigs share a similar work ethic and lifestyle. If it was a man eating pig like in Hannibal it would kill all my friends immediately because I suck at keeping my animals under control.
RM: What sort of project have you always wanted to take on artistically, but haven’t had the opportunity to do so just yet? Why has that format always been a matter of interest for you; and what do you think you’ll be able to add to that creative sector of the entertainment industry once you finally get involved?
ZA: I want to write and direct my own horror comedies, once I can financially I hope to make one every couple years and then be able to tour with them and do Q+A’s after each screening, kind of like a horror/stand-up Kevin Smith experience. I want to bring the community aspect back to low budget horror and make every screening an all-night party that people can look forward to with every movie I make.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2016 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we need to know about?
ZA: The Roastmaster’s Championship tournament starts October 4th and ends November 1st, everyone in it is brilliant and hilarious and it’s going to be incredible. Return to Nuke Em High Volume 2 should be out in the next few months and touring the country, I will be at a lot of the screenings in person to meet the fans and hang out and say thank you to all the incredible people that support the filth I get to make.
Zac on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/people/Zac-Amico/826680
Zac on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ZacIsNotFunny
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